Beyond the Cusp

December 2, 2014

Existential Crisis Most Likely to Bring New Elections

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Prime Minister Netanyahu and Prime Minister in his own mind Yair Lapid had their fateful meeting where the real Prime Minister basically laid out what would be required from Yair Lapid and his party members in order to continue the current coalition. One of the problems which have struck the coalition has been the idea by the other party leaders that they should be the Prime Minister and run the government. Yair Lapid was rumored to even have attempted to patch together his own coalition and exercise a coup of sorts and take over the government through a deal with opposition parties thus forcing a new government without having new elections. Then we have the twisted dreams of Tzipi Livni who believes that she is fated to be Prime Minister because she honestly feels she has been robbed of her opportunity to lead the nation and will likely continue to pursue this phantom reality for the rest of her political life. There is the expected leader and head of the opposition parties Yitzhak Herzog, the leader of the Labor Party, has already claimed his rightful position as Prime Minister in waiting convinced that new elections will serve as the cleansing of the government of Prime Minister Netanyahu and instead bring a liberal wave sweeping Herzog into the Prime Minister slot. He was quoted speaking of the inevitable results of new elections stating, “The Labor party will lead the bloc that will win the election and give hope and a new reality for the citizens of Israel.” Apparently these Prime Ministerial candidates holding these delusional beliefs have either not read any of the polling done or they believe, as Yitzhak Herzog stated just the other day, that the polls are meaningless as they have sampled those they know and all of the people in their circle agree that new elections will place them at the head of the next government. If I were to ask those closest to me if I would win the coming elections and get to form the next coalition government I am sure that at least one or two would play along and assure me that I was not delusional, but they would also realize I was joking. Unfortunately for Israel, these Prime Minister wannabes are not joking and believe their own propaganda that they are the next chosen one.

 

This crisis was brought to a head when the proposed Jewish State Law which was intended to restate and reaffirm that Israel is the home of the Jewish People as well as a democracy where every citizen is guaranteed their respective rights as citizens. To any casual observer this law would be a no brainer but instead it became the initial protest vote where both Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni threatened their voting against the Jewish State Law should it be brought to the Knesset for a vote. This led to rewording the bill in attempts to make it palatable to the few who insisted on remaining unappeasable. The reality is that both party leaders were actually more upset that the governing coalition refused to tow their line and follow their agendas and instead were following the agenda put forth by the Prime Minister and originally voted for as part and parcel of joining the coalition upon its formation. So, it now appears that Israel is about to go into another election with all the usual posturing and backstabbing starting with each party holding their disparate meetings or votes or some combination thereof in order to present their list of proposed Knesset Ministers for well past their polled expectations to receive once the election results are finalized. The expectations from current polling, something that is almost meaningless as elections have historically brought surprises and twists beyond belief, has Likud remaining the largest block of Ministerial positions and thus most likely to be chosen to form the next coalition. There are indications that the next largest party might be Jewish Home which will be a surprise to the leftist parties who are expecting the Israeli voters to cast off both Likud and Jewish Home in favor of Labor, Meretz and Yesh Atid. The polling has also indicated that Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party will only manage to win half the number of seats in the Knesset than they did in their initial and surprising success in their inaugural presentation before the voting public in the last election. These polls also depicted Tzipi Livni’s HaTnuah Party as barely making a minimal entry number of seats if even breaking the threshold required to be represented in the Knesset, let alone receive the nod to form the next government. The one hope all of those vying to be the next Prime Minister can invest their aspirations upon is that the least likely thing which was unexpected by all the pollsters, party leaders, experts and prognosticators and initially dismissed as insignificant can still resonate with the Israeli public while remaining below the radar and surging forth on election day to produce the unexpected results in the next elections completely throwing all the news outlets an unseen curve which they will be at a loss to explain. The elections may prove once again that there is no such thing as a sure bet when the voting public gets to make the decisions.

 

Of course new elections are not yet guaranteed as it will take a vote in the Knesset to dissolve the parliament and hold elections and there is the possibility that Yair Lapid will return to the fold and swallow his pride for the good of the coalition and by such an action garner some new supporters which always is a desired result for any politician. Lapid was given five acts he must agree to if he desires to avoid new elections. These were to stop attacking the coalition and especially to end his criticisms of the building plans in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Israeli relations with the United States. Next he was to transfer the six billion shekels to the defense budget as promised for their development of Iron Dome systems and armored personnel carriers. Third was to release the funding for the IDF relocation to the new Negev as was agreed upon by coalition agreements, something Lapid was blocking going so far as to have frozen this funding taking what he referred to as a principled stand. Fourth was for him to support the final version of the Jewish State Law. Finally he would be required to surrender and shelve the zero percent VAT relief bill he had been pushing for very determinedly. This final demand is expected to be the last straw and the one Lapid will refuse to meet thus likely forcing new elections.

 

One reading the polls would expect that Lapid would find it easier to remain in the current coalition where his Yesh Atid Party enjoys nineteen seats in the Knesset, a far cry better than the nine seats which many polls have indicated he would receive from new elections. The guessing here believes that Yesh Atid would probably suffer an even bigger embarrassment and only manage six or maybe seven seats and be on its way to extinction unless Yair Lapid could find a path back to the promises and apparent ideals he initially presented as the guiding essentials set forth in the last election. Those who suspected that much of the Zionist and nationalist line that Minister Lapid had professed was more ruse than ideological foundation as it was presented. These suspicions proved to be valid as once in the government Yair Lapid appeared to inexorably veer to the left and discard much of his nationalist agenda and instead attempt to inject his liberal slant into policy even at the expense of manipulating the budget which he had promised certain arrangements and allocations which he in the end did not deliver on. And this may only be the tip of the iceberg of potential changes which might be produced by holding new elections. The largest changes are always the ways in which the factions and parties arrange their own coalitions’ makeup. The most evident breakup has already taken place in which the one-time marriage of Likud with Yisrael Beiteinu which will also mean that Avigdor Lieberman will be leading his own party rather than being second on the combined ticket with Bibi Netanyahu taking the top slot. Netanyahu is probably expected by most to continue to take the top slot on any Likud ticket but that may not be as guaranteed as one might believe. There will be a credible challenge to Netanyahu in the voting for the Likud ticket as Danny Danon is expected to give Netanyahu a challenge from the right and even more nationalistic Zionist side of the party. We could potentially see a Likud ticket with a new face at the helm which may signal a changing of the guard within Likud even should Danny Danon fall short in his challenge. Danon is definitely one of the future leaders in Likud and the time is rapidly approaching for these new leaders to step forth. Other than the breakup of Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, there may be other alterations to more parties and combinations than could be readily covered in this article and are best left for after the parties have all filed and made public their intents. Then there will be the leadership challenges in parties other than Likud. We have to wait and see if the somewhat controversial leader of Jewish Home, Naftali Bennett, remains the top man on their ticket and whether they will continue with their current makeup or if some factions might go it on their own. Then there may be a contest for the leadership position of the Haredi parties, largely concerning in Shas and whether the more liberal and left leaning Arye Deri remains in the number one slot or if Eli Yishai or Ariel Atias will make a successful challenge from the more nationalist and right leaning side of the party. With the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef there can now be a true contest for the leadership of the Shas Party. Labor just recently had a change in leadership with Yitzhak Herzog taking the top spot replacing Shelly Yachimovitch. After all is said and done the next government may very well have a similar outward appearance to the current coalition but within there will be some changes, just how many and how far this difference proves to be remains to be seen. If Likud has a new person topping their ticket, such a change could excite the electorate or perhaps the shock of Bibi Netanyahu being replaced will be too much for the Israeli public. Then there are some polls which have shown Jewish Home Party actually replacing Likud as the leader in the Knesset and thus very likely making their first name on their Knesset list the next Prime Minister. It still remains to be seen if that name will continue to be Naftali Bennett. And then again, there is still hope for yours truly as, after all, those I have talked to still hold out hope for me to be picked to form the next government, and why not? Talk about strange happenings, that would take the cake.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 24, 2013

A Question for Netanyahu

The election results were a ray of hope and promise for many in the Zionist communities. But there is a question which must be asked of Netanyahu because if there is any chance that his intended direction has been indicated by bringing Livni into the coalition while also acquiescing to her every demand; then the Zionist should stop any celebrations and begin to worry that another Likud Prime Minister is headed to the dark side. What would be the indications that Netanyahu intends to fall before the pressures from the Europeans, United States President Obama backed by his recent appointees to be CIA Chief and Secretaries of State and Defense, the numerous leftist NGOs and the rest of the world support groups backing the Palestinian ploy by the Arab and Muslim world to destroy Israel?

It truly was a shocking revelation to read that Prime Minister Netanyahu has accepted Tzipi Livni into the coalition and agreed to grant her the Justice Ministry which was the expressed position sought by Yair Lapid and also granted her request to be the lead in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority as her position supporting surrendering most if not all of Judea and Samaria along with half of Jerusalem including all of the Old City as well as the Kotel which would make it next to impossible for Naftali Bennett and the Jewish Home to also enter such a coalition. The first question that comes to mind is how Netanyahu could form a coalition without compromising his promises to Livni. The first sign of the unthinkable may have been occurring right before our eyes as Netanyahu appears to be spending great amounts of time wooing Shelly Yachimovich and the Labor Party to join his coalition. Should Netanyahu succeed in his wooing of Yachimovich and the Labor Party he would be well on his way to forming that both sides of center coalition which has been the center of much chatter since the election. This would also fit in with the rumors that Netanyahu will go to whatever length is necessary to keep Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett out of the coalition. I know, how could Netanyahu fill out the rest of the needed Knesset seats to reach the minimum of sixty-one seats as even with Kadima along with Labor Party, Hatnuah and Likud-Beiteinu only gives him fifty-four?

That is where the unusual leadership by triumvirate of Shas comes into play. Despite the story fed to the media and membership of Shas that the three members of the triumvirate, Eli Yishai, Ariel Atias and Aryeh Deri, were equal and were working together there will always be the suspicion that not all members are truly equal. The truth is that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef as the spiritual guiding light is the true and undisputed true leader of Shas and he was the one who decided upon the triumvirate form of leadership in order to soften the inclusion of Aryeh Deri back into a leadership position immediately after he returned to politics after his conviction. This would likely mean that anything which Aryeh Deri decides for Shas will be supported by Rabbi Yosef and thus nobody would ever think to counter his decisions. Deri was well known to prefer Labor over Likud though he would ally with whichever was necessary to gain considerations for the Hasidic heart of Shas. It is this flexibility; some might say pragmatism, which has made Shas the coalition builder in Israeli history. Should Shas also join the above parties in a coalition, then Netanyahu would have his broad based coalition with sixty-five seats. The guarantor that this is Netanyahu’s desired outcome would be some generous deal made with Shelly Yachimovich in order to bring Labor into the coalition over her original denial of any possibility of her being in a coalition with Netanyahu.

 
Should this actually come to pass, then there are some additional questions which would soon surface. One of the foremost among them is what will Netanyahu do to keep such a coalition together with a number of his fellow Likud members probably having misgivings about their fellow coalition members? With Moshe Feiglin and Tzipi Hotovely and other Zionist and nationalist members within the Likud faction, how does Prime Minister Netanyahu expect to hold his coalition together and avoid losing a sure to follow vote of no confidence. Such would most certainly come attached to some piece of legislation made to satisfy either Tzipi Livni or Shelly Yachimovich or members of their parties by one of the parties not within the coalition, especially should such legislation either be detrimental to the Israelis residing in Judea and Samaria or other controversial subjects. Would Prime Minister Netanyahu purposely hold the members of the coalition to vote for anything which was brought before the Knesset by any coalition member? On the other hand, would Prime Minister Netanyahu deny members of the coalition bringing any motion which might challenge the coalition? And if either were the case, how would such a move be enforced? Would the coalition survive if Prime Minister Netanyahu challenged one of the other party leaders to hold their members to vote with the coalition or be removed from the Knesset and replaced with another minister appointed in order to enforce compliant voting? Would Prime Minister Netanyahu replace members of his own Likud Party in order to sustain his coalition? What would be the result from either of these actions? Such a coalition even if formed would appear on face value unsustainable. This may be conjecture but the possibility that Prime Minister Netanyahu may be headed in this direction is possible. This becomes even more likely if Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid hold to their agreement not to enter the coalition without the other, an agreement I believe both will truly honor despite what some, including Netanyahu, may think or even be counting on.

Beyond the Cusp

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