Is There a Way Out of Israel’s Political Deadlock?

December 6, 2019 | Shmuel Rosner
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On Tuesday, leaders of the Jewish state’s largest political parties, Blue and White and Likud, met to negotiate the terms of a coalition agreement—and failed to come to an agreement. If none of the parties in the Knesset succeeds in forming a governing coalition, there will be a third election, with no guarantee that it will be more conclusive than those that preceded it. Identifying six moves by key politicians that have created the deadlock, Shmuel Rosner speculates as to whether they can be circumvented or undone:

The last batch of Israeli polls are depressing. What we see in them is, well, nothing. . . . If elections were held today, the outcome would be much like the ones of last April and September: no majority for the bloc of the right; no majority for any feasible coalition of the center-left. That is, unless someone is willing to undo one of the six decisions that brought us to where we are.

It might be Avigdor Liberman, [leader of the staunchly secular Yisrael Beytenu party], deciding to join the religious-right bloc or supporting a narrow coalition that relies on the Arab parties. It could be [the Blue and White leader] Benny Gantz deciding to enter a coalition with Prime Minister Netanyahu. It could be the ḥaredi parties deciding to abandon Likud. It could be Likud leaders deciding to throw Netanyahu under the bus [and choose a new leader more amenable to potential coalition partners].

Most of these scenarios seem like flights of fancy.

This means another election in March and another attempt to form a coalition with numbers that don’t match the prerequisite. This means more months without a functioning government to pass a budget, more months without important decisions being made, more months of bickering and political fatigue.

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