The Only Alternatives to Another Inconclusive Israeli Election?

July 26, 2019 | Shmuel Rosner
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Since the most recent Israeli elections resulted effectively in a stalemate, a second election has been called for September. Every indication from poll data is that the results will be no more conclusive the second time around, with neither the Likud nor its competitors able to form a coalition. Shmuel Rosner—after noting that a third election would be costly and demoralizing—comments:

The centrist Blue and White party is expected to be the strongest opposition party in the coming Knesset, and a unity government of [it and] Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud would likely be popular among Israelis, a majority of whom believe Netanyahu is the most fit to lead but don’t have much love for his past coalition partners, especially the ultra-Orthodox [parties].

But that’s not the plan of either party because of several factors. First, Netanyahu wants to form a government with his usual allies, the right-wing and religious parties, in part for political reasons: this alliance is easier for him to control, and it has kept Likud in power for many years. . . . Moreover, Blue and White has said it won’t join a government led by Netanyahu under any circumstances. . . . This is not because of ideological differences or competing policy prescriptions. This is about Benjamin Netanyahu. . . . For many Israelis, Netanyahu is the personification of their political grievances and social frustrations.

There are two clear ways to overcome these obstacles. One is for Netanyahu to step aside [as leader of the Likud party] and allow a coalition to form without him. The other is for Blue and White to accept that working with Netanyahu, the most popular politician in Israel, is a necessity. Both options would require the leaders of Likud and of Blue and White to learn to compromise on important principles. . . . It might not seem like the most dignified act, but Israel’s politicians must prevent a third election—for the good of the country.

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