Overlooked amid the good-natured chuckling that greeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s smooth appearance on high-rating satire show “Eretz Nehederet” (A Wonderful Country) on Tuesday was the fact that Netanyahu indicated publicly for the first time that he hopes to fight and win a fourth term as prime minister.
Asked by anchor Eyal Kitzis to comment on January’s elections, in which Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu alliance won 31 seats — a disappointing fall from the 42-seats in the last Knesset, but enough to see him retain the prime ministership — Netanyahu said the last time was “good.” But, he promised, “the next time will be better.”
Netanyahu, 63, is already Israel’s second longest-serving prime minister after David Ben-Gurion. Ironically, his fourth-term ambition was broadcast, in the segment he taped for the show, precisely as Netanyahu headed to Britain to attend Wednesday’s funeral of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher, the UK’s longest-serving 20th century prime minister, famously declared in an interview after her third election win in 1987 that she hoped “to go on and on” as Britain’s leader. But she lost the leadership of the Conservative Party in late 1990, and was therefore unable to contest a fourth term as prime minister.
In other serious comments during the 12-minute segment, Netanyahu reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution and said he was concerned at the prospect of a one-state solution — a single, bi-national state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, in which many demographers believe Jews would become outnumbered by non-Jews — if Israel and the Palestinians fail to resolve their conflict. “I am afraid of that,” he said. “I don’t want that.” But an agreement with the Palestinians had to guarantee Israel’s security, he said.
In just about the only small slip of his appearance, when discussing the economy, Netanyahu promised to take care of all six million Israelis, before hurriedly correcting himself to “eight” million. Israel today has a population of some eight million, about six million of whom are Jewish.