JERUSALEM (VosIzNeias) — As British Jews watch with increasing trepidation the political impasse in their country and the possibility that elections will bring an anti-Semitic leader to power in the UK, Israelis watch with increasing indifference the inability of their politicians to solve the political impasse in their country which has now lasted for over half a year. At present, the ball is in the court of Blue And White leader Benny Gantz, but despite all the goodwill available (and there isn’t too much goodwill), his hands are capably tied by his partners and thus the chances of forming a new government under his leadership are negligible at present.
President Reuven Rivlin had suggested what would appear to be a reasonable framework for forming a national unity government as soon as possible. The need for such a government is apparent, as Israel faces existential threats as well as numerous other intractable problems. Hamas in the south is gearing up for another round of violence, since the only way it can justify to the wretched Gazan residents their appalling economic and social situation is by blaming their woes on Israel. Hezbollah is gaining game-changing strategic weapons enabling it to target with precision almost any location in Israel with its arsenal of 150,000 missiles. The situation in Syria is volatile and Iran is utilizing the chaos there to gain a foothold from which it too can threaten Israel.
Thus there is precious little time for the endemic political bickering and filibustering which has plagued the political system in Israel. President Rivlin’s idea was to allow Netanyahu to serve first as prime minister, while at the same time Gantz would learn the ropes, considering the fact that he has never served in political office and did not even hold the position of Knesset member until six months ago. If and when an indictment will be served against Netanyahu, he will be incapacitated and will not continue to serve as prime minister, which he can be according to the present law for up to 100 days. Rivlin suggested that the law be changed to allow a prime minister to be incapacitated for a longer period.
In this way, Gantz could achieve his goal of becoming the acting prime minister within a half a year and he would not need to retract his electoral promise not to sit in a government with a prime minister who has an indictment against him, as Netanyahu at that point would be incapacitated and would not be part of the government. Netanyahu himself however would not have to leave the prime minister’s residence while he is incapacitated and if acquitted on trial, he could continue to serve as prime minister until the end of the rotation period between the two leaders.
Gantz himself has expressed his approval of the Rivlin framework, but as is well known he is not the only leader in his party. Yair Lapid, the militantly anti-Chareidi leader of the Yesh Atid faction in the Blue And White party, is diametrically opposed to a coalition which would be led by Netanyahu and would include his Chareidi allies. Lapid’s entire raison d’etre appears to be his incorrigible hatred for everything Chareidi and the thought of sitting in a government which hands out money to Chareidim, even if those budgets are disproportionately small relative to their part of the population, is anathema to the Yesh Atid leader. He is even willing to sacrifice a possibility of being prime minister later on if it means having to relinquish anything to the Chareidi parties.
At the same time, Avigdor Liberman has also slammed the door on any cooperation with the Chareidim, meaning that he too cannot accept the Rivlin framework to build a government with them. This conundrum has led to the current impasse and the likelihood of yet another election in the near future. There are still a few days left for Gantz to try and form a coalition but no better framework has been suggested yet and it is looking less likely as the days drag by that a solution could be found.
After the proscribed 28 days given to Benny Gantz are over, there will be another 21 days in which any candidate from one of the parties can attempt to try and form a coalition but such a scenario would be highly unusual and both Netanyahu and Gantz would do all they can to prevent any other MK from garnering support to become prime minister.
It seems therefore that the irritated citizens of Israel will once again be called upon to go to the election booths and cast their votes. By that point however, they will at least know whether Netanyahu is an option for them to choose or whether he must be arraigned in court and charged of criminal acts. How this will affect their choices is anyone’s guess, but the chaos will certainly continue in the short term.