The political miracle. This is what the long-awaited agreement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party with the centre-left alliance Kahol Lavan, Benny Gantz, and finally the creation of a coalition government looks like. A Netanyahu-Gantz unity government in Israel.
It is significant that the agreement between Netanyahu and Gantz provides for a rotational model of government formation, which has never before been seen in Israeli politics. It is laid down in it that as many as two prime ministers will be sworn in at the same time. That is, Benjamin Netanyahu will be the prime minister for the first year and a half, and Benny Gantz will be the replacement prime minister and the acting prime minister. And a year and a half later, Benny Gantz will take over as Prime Minister, and Netanyahu will become the replacement Prime Minister.
The coalition agreement says: if Netanyahu resigns before the end of his term, then Benny Gantz takes office, and Netanyahu returns to the post of prime minister after a year and a half, which will provide him with the opportunity to go to the polls again from the post of incumbent prime minister.
The “miracle” was stimulated by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin when he categorically refused to renew Gantz’s mandate to form a government and handed it over to the Knesset. Thus, Reuven Rivlin defined a tight time frame for negotiations. Since, until May 7, none of the leaders of the factions could form a government, the Israeli parliament would be dissolved again. In this scenario, the fourth parliamentary election would have been held on August 4th.
The Netanyahu — Gantz government has become the largest in the history of the state of Israel. It consists of 32 ministers and 16 deputy ministers.
At the same time, Likud Netanyahu reserves the following departments:
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (half the cadence),
- Ministry of Internal Security,
- Ministry of Transport,
- Ministry of Construction,
- Ministry of Education,
- Ministry of Ecology,
- Ministry of Energy,
- and Ministry of Jerusalem.
Representatives of Kahol Lavan Gantz will be appointed to:
- Ministry of Defense,
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs (half cadence),
- Ministry of Justice,
- Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption,
- Ministry of Culture and Sports,
- Ministry of Economy,
- Ministry of Labor and Social Security,
- Ministry of Communications,
- Ministry of Agriculture,
- Ministry Strategic Planning,
- Ministry of Tourism,
- Ministry of Social Equality,
- Ministry of Diaspora Affairs.
In addition, Kahol Lavan MPs will chair the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Commission, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure, Internal Affairs, and Education.
Most Israeli experts agree that Netanyahu, who once again confirmed the title of the most experienced politician in the country, should be recognized as the undisputed winner. The main achievement of the Likud leader is the clause of the agreement, which provides for Netanyahu’s right to head the government, although court hearings should begin on May 24 in a number of cases involving the prime minister. The point of a coalition agreement has also named a victory for Benjamin Netanyahu, according to which, if the Supreme Court prohibits Netanyahu from performing the functions of Prime Minister, the Knesset will be dissolved.
But if COVID-19 did not arise in Israel, it is unlikely that Benny Gantz would dare to break his promise to his voters not to join the Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Although such quick agreements do not remove the threat of the fourth election. Because, it seems, the parties do not really believe that after the conclusion of the agreement, the other side will play by the rules and implement coalition agreements. In addition, the brake on this path is that by agreeing to share power, both Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz may lose some of the support of their potential voters.
Actually Gantz has already managed to partially feel it on himself. Because he made a classic mistake, forgetting that he owed his political leverage to a fragile coalition of parties with political discrepancies whose only common goal was to get rid of Bibi. The game with Netanyahu did not make Gantz a mature statesman in the eyes of his voters. On the contrary, some began to consider him an opportunist and almost a traitor. Which resulted in the loss of “Kahol Lavan” in the last election of several mandates so necessary to her.
The third election showed that, despite all the irrefutable past services to Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu is not able to become a statesman, ready to realize that it is time for him to leave the political scene. He does not imagine a “political pension” as something possible, therefore he was ready to fight for the prime minister’s chair to the last, at the same time-wasting his former authority.
After losing almost three consecutive elections, Netanyahu still continued the protracted game, not wanting to take into account the political realities of Israel. He is in a political coordinate system, not ready for real compromises with his potential supporters among the Israeli political elites. And, unable to win due to regular political processes, Netanyahu only achieved the extreme political polarization of the legislative body – the Knesset, the political, business and intellectual elite, the media and the voters.
Netanyahu, an outstanding politician in the past, today is very similar to a boxer who, by age, is no longer able to brilliantly perform in the ring as once, but does not find the strength to leave undefeated, despite the fact that he is approaching a devastating defeat.
In the end, the future of Benny Gantz seems not at all cloudless. A considerable chunk of Kahol Lavan has melted because of his decision to try to work with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Some of Gantz’s former “blue-white” partners ceased to trust him. Therefore, there is no certainty that he will be allowed to head the coalition at all if Israel does run for the fourth election.
After all, the premiere, which has dragged on for such a long time, does not add stability to Israel, surrounded on all sides by neighbours who deny its existence and consider Israel as occupied land.
And although this time Benjamin Netanyahu managed to slip out of the blind alley where he drove himself, still, if such political games continue, the situation could become tragic. It is presumed, Benjamin Netanyahu clearly set his political survival above the survival of the Israeli state. Briefly, the current situation can be defined as follows:
Netanyahu does not see anyone except himself in the post of Prime Minister of Israel, and most Israelis are not ready to hand him the mandate of political confidence again.
It is not known how long the fragile coalition government of Netanyahu-Gantz can hold out. And if we assume that there are no significant changes in the political convictions of the Israelis, is it worth to raise the minimum threshold required for representation in the Knesset to at least three percent? Because it could fundamentally change the alignment of political forces in Israel.
As some Israeli experts say,
“a permanent electoral deja vu leads to the opinion: if you develop an electoral system that holds elections three times in a year and a half and cannot determine the winner, this is a poorly designed system.”
And it’s hard to disagree.
The Netanyahu Factor no longer works as it did before. And the “political paralysis” of Israel, from which it was possible to get out with such incredible difficulties, has every chance of repeating itself. Since the “broken” Israeli parliamentary system is constantly stalling, and, in fact, the latest results of the parliamentary elections have become a kind of electoral referendum on the personage of Benjamin Netanyahu and his stay in power for more than 13 years.
But be that as it may, Netanyahu managed to obtain “prime mover”, and he uses his office to further delay the prosecution or search for a form of official protection. In any case, he will do this together with his once most acute public critic – Benny Gantz, who is now inside the “Netanyahu government.”
At the same time, Gantz’s desire to finally at least a little “premiere” can hit him in a fatal way. This political mistake alienated his former supporters and crushed the interim coalition that he led during the three national elections. Thus, Benny Gantz became a voluntary hostage to a coalition agreement with Netanyahu, having crossed out the further possibility of continuing his political career. This former chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces had previously promised never to sit in a government with Netanyahu.
In addition, having agreed to the prime minister’s rotation with Bibi after 18 months, Benny fatally didn’t take into account that Netanyahu was playing a game with him according to the well-known “Khoja Nasreddin principle”: “You tell me everything at once, and I will tell you later parts.” But these parts may never be …
The views and opinions expressed in this opinion article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Eastern Herald.