Well, this really IS the land of miracles. And miracles amaze us. Even the media moguls from all sides of the political spectrum were amazed. Why? Because Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, is again the front-runner to try to get the nod to set up the next government – for the third time in less than a year. Will he succeed the third time around after failing to succeed the first two times? He is definitely closer to making it happen this time than he was the last two times.
We are definitely a democratic country, with democratic institutions and democratically elected officials. It seems that everyone wanted to vote this time around and all of the final votes won’t be in for another day or two. How else could we explain an election victory for a serving Prime Minister who in two weeks time will be the defendant in a criminal trial where he is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate matters? The results of yesterday’s election was a vote of confidence for a right-wing government. But, yesterday’s numbers left Netanyahu’s Likud Party and the rightist bloc two votes short of a majority. So, although he once again pulled a rabbit out of a non-existing hat, Netanyahu still has his work cut out for him. And as for the criminal trial, the legal system has no choice but to treat him as innocent until proven guilty.
The consequences of choosing a right-wing government will undoubtedly give impetus to the efforts to curtail the power of the Israeli Supreme Court. It is also a message sent to the government that the people, at least those who will enable such a government to be formed, are in favor of establishing sovereignty in Judea and Samaria (what the world refers to as “the West Bank”). It is on the drawing board, but will not be given serious consideration, or consideration at all, if the needed additional Knesset seats are not found at the bottom of Netanyahu’s hat.
But, as the saying goes: “It ain’t over until it’s over.” And it certainly isn’t over. This morning, the right-wing bloc woke up to 59 out of a needed 61 mandates (seats in the Knesset) for a majority. Along with the unexpected, but nevertheless clear, victory for Netanyahu over Blue and White Party’s Benny Gantz, the Joint List of Arab Parties became the third largest political party, garnering 15 seats and making its mark on the political landscape of Israel. More on that for a later post. As of this writing, with some 97% of the votes counted, the rightist bloc lost one seat (from the Likud Party), dropping its total to 58 and the Joint List gained another seat, giving it a total of 16. Netanyahu needs 3 more seats and he needs to get them from the camps of those who fought tooth and nail to unseat him. He will need all of his experience in negotiation to approach political rivals and attempt to turn enemyship into friendship. All of the political contenders are aware of the fact that Netanyahu will have to make it to the finish line, if we the nation is to avoid a fourth round of very costly elections.
Defection from the Center-Left camp, if it comes, will not come cheaply. Position and power will be the starting price and ideological compromise may follow in its wake. Netanyahu needs to come up with his own “Deal of the Century” in order to make it happen.
There are still some three percent of the votes that need to be counted. So far, Netanyahu is still holding the reins of government, even though it is an interim government. He needs to solidify his position before his trial starts in two weeks. Three times the people of Israel have given him a victory at the polls, although an incomplete victory. God forbid that we would have to go through this a fourth time, as there is absolutely no reason to think that the results would be different from what they were up until now. This is the time for the members of the “other” political parties to do some soul-searching and consider making some compromises of their own for the sake of the nation as a whole. We can’t act properly as a nation if we don’t have a functioning government.
Despite it all, the sun will come out tomorrow. “After all … tomorrow is another day.” (Scarlett O’Hara, in “Gone With the Wind”).
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Prov. 16:7) How much more would this be true of a nation, our nation?
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.