The Election is Over, But No One is Smiling

“Still, he has pledged that there will not be a fourth election, although the reasons for making such a statement are anything but clear. He has, however, said that there will be “surprises”, which is not a word that is looked upon favorably in political circles. Lieberman has consistently vowed that he would not help form a government that is dependent upon religious parties (right) or the support of the Joint List of Arab partiers (left). He cannot now back-track on either position, as it would spell political doom for his party and, possibly, for him personally. So, what are the surprises? We’ll have to wait and see.” (TWTW-2 March, 2020)

The statements of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) Party were made prior to last week’s election, the third in less than a year. When the election was over, his party received seven, presently unaligned Knesset seats, allowing him, once again, to become the king maker of Israeli politics. Only three days after the election was over, after the people of Israel made their voices heard, efforts were underway to undermine the voice of the people, as well as to jeopardize Israel’s democracy and, potentially, its security. 

The results of the election, left, right and center-left:

33 – Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) 55 – Center Left – Gantz 58 – Right – Netanyahu 36 – Likud
15 – Joint List (of Arab Parties) 9 – Shas (Orthodox)
7 – Labor-Gesher-Meretz 7 – United Torah Judaism (UTJ)
6 – Yamina (Religious-Secular Right)
7 –  Yisrael Beiteinu

Lieberman ??? Unaligned

And the surprise is now out of the bag. Lieberman’s party made the following statement this past Thursday: “At the recently ended faction meeting, [the party] decided to promote two laws. The first law proposes a term limit for the prime minister. The second law prevents an indicted MK from forming a government.” The significance of those decisions should not be missed. It would now appear that Lieberman is no longer sitting on the sidelines, but is actively taking sides in the political battle that continues to rage after the votes are in.

The proposed legislation, which can only be submitted for consideration after the new Knesset is sworn in, is alleged to be the brain child of the Blue and White Party, together with the two left parties, Labor-Gesher-Meretz and the Joint List. But, if so, then the “surprises” promised by Lieberman are still to be revealed. It is reasonable to presume this legislation is what Lieberman had in mind, but that it needed to be submitted by Gantz et al. in order for it not to be considered the personal vendetta of Lieberman against Netanyahu. It is still on the drawing board, but can become potential draft legislation in less than two weeks. 

But, getting the bill passed is another story and will require Gantz to become the favorite son of the soon-to-be-sworn-in politicos, then to have his chosen nominee to replace the present Speaker of the Knesset, both of which would necessitate his getting the full support of the Joint List, which is somewhat disjointed at the moment, if the three members of the Balad party in the Joint List continue to refuse to sit in a government with Gantz, whom they referred to as “racist”. That would leave the Gantz bloc of center-left and left parties with 59 potential seats, as opposed to the Netanyahu-right bloc of 58. Such a situation would again require Israel President, Reuven Rivlin, to use his discretion to determine which of the two major candidates should be given the opportunity to form a new government. Still, 59 seats would still give the Gantz bloc a potential majority in any vote in the Knesset. 

Gantz and Lieberman are determined to unseat Netanyahu. Up until now, they have not succeeded. Netanyahu is determined not to be removed by political rivals. If he will not continue to be the Prime Minister, it will be either by his own choice or by decision of the legal system.

As noted, the seven votes of Lieberman’s party, if thrown in with the Blue and White bloc, will end his fence straddling and mark his taking sides in the on-going saga and concerted efforts to unseat Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, who originally had Lieberman’s support some two plus decades ago.

It should be noted that the proposed legislation is intended to become effective only after the “next” election, not this one. If it is so presented and passed, it could withstand a court challenge to its validity, while also constituting a legal obstacle to Netanyahu running in a fourth election – if, God forbid, a compromise is not reached soon and a fourth round becomes inevitable. At present, there is still the political stalemate. The possibility of setting up a minority government still exists, but is not the best-case scenario by any stretch of the imagination.

Enter The Coronavirus

With the spread of the Coronavirus. and its entry into Israel and the possibility of facing an unprecedented health crisis in Israel, one that looms large on the horizon despite efforts being made to curtail it, the politicians will be forced to deal with multitudes of our population being in forced isolation and with the potential nightmares facing the economy. It’s time to put personal animosities aside and make every effort to work together for the sake of the nation as a whole. The people have a long memory and if we are severely affected by stubborn political figures, whose pride and self-interest take priority over the needs of the people, they will be held accountable, in the days to come or at the next visit to the polling stations. May wisdom and compassion move them to work together.

Have a great week.

Bless, be blessed and be a blessing,

Marvin

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