Beyond the Cusp

May 31, 2019

Trump Peace Plan Strikes Israeli Election Dysfunction

 

President Trump had announced his intention to present his much-anticipated peace plan after Ramadan and the Israeli elections. Israel had their elections and the idea was to wait for the end of Ramadan and then let loose the plan. Then there was the hiccup, Israeli elections are requiring a redo. The just completed election provided current and potentially rechosen Prime Minister Netanyahu with sixty Knesset Ministers joining a coalition. The problem is he required half of one-hundred-twenty, plus one equaling sixty-one. The holdout was Avigdor Lieberman with the five Ministers of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party. What makes this turn of events all the more frustrating is that it was Avigdor Lieberman’s pulling out of the last coalition which initiated the slow collapse which was terminated when Likud Party leader, Bibi Netanyahu, finally pulling the plug leading to this past inconclusive election. The telltale lack of a confirmation resulting from the election is that had the Blue-White Party managed to form this coalition with every Minister remaining which Bibi Netanyahu could not land, they too would have a result of sixty, one Minister short as well. All of this begs a question of whether the Israeli system has some difficulties beyond that of other parliamentary systems?

 

The main problem is the requirement to patch together a coalition of half of the total Knesset plus one. Reaching that sixty-one figure is challenging enough in a country which has so many parties which all receive four or more Ministers as each party has some area of disagreement with most of the other parties thus the conflicting demands are difficult to find a workable solution acceptable to all. But there is another difficulty which makes it more difficult for both the left-leaning parties and the right-leaning parties, the Arab parties which have never joined either side in a government and usually garner anywhere between six and fifteen seats. This past election their lists came close to ten Ministers who were never going to join either side. Now the requirement to make a government, instead of sixty-one from one-hundred-twenty, it became finding sixty-one from one-hundred-ten which meant garnering fifty-five plus percent. That might not be such a challenge in countries with two or three main parties needed to form a government. This last Israeli elections, the only combination requiring less than four or more parties would have required the two main adversarial parties to have worked together in a new government, not something which was even remotely likely, though some feared that this might be the means by which the chosen party might decide to form what are laughingly referred to as a unity government, something they truly are not. This past election, any chance of a coalition between the two main adversarial parties was completely impossible. As it was, the larger party which rose to second place was actually three parties merging so as to be capable of defeating Bibi. Even that proved insufficient. Additionally, there was mention of bringing the Arab parties on board a left-leaning government and even going to that extreme would have still only registered sixty providing they could get Lieberman to agree, the problem Bibi was unable to solve.

 

The other item was scheduled to coincide with the new Israeli government being seated and the end of Ramadan on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. This has been pushed off until some point after Tuesday, September 17, 2019 assuming that the next elections prove definitive.

 

BTC Israeli Election Banner

 

So, that begs another question, what is the likelihood that the next elections will not simply return more of the same. The ramifications of the last week and the theatrics and everything else the Israeli public witnessed which was being passed off intelligent disagreements over the draft and the numbers of deferments provided the Haredi population so they can pursue Torah scholarship will hopefully be reflected in the voting of the public in September. Unfortunately, much of the Israeli public, just as it is in many other nations, are dedicated to their chosen party election after election. This makes the difference in the totals merely a marginal amount between left and right parties. The two sides do have some fluctuations as to which party takes the lead and the relative strengths of the individual parties. For an extended period, the Labor Party ruled the left but has lost support in recent years. What does not move anywhere near as quickly is the public moving across the center line between right and left. As this takes quite a while for such changes, this is a good time to point out that the Israeli public has been slowly moving to the right, becoming more religious and becoming less concerned with what the Europeans, United Nations and other outside influences think Israel should act. This has resulted in a current near balance between those on the left plus the Arab lists compared to those on the right. If we had to make a concerted guess, we would place the divide at between fifty-five to sixty percent right or right-leaning and the remainder opposed.

 

This often begs the question as to why the right does not simply win outright. The answer is actually one of the most basic and simply reasons for so much of the troubles in world politics, egos. There were two right-wing parties which did not clear threshold. Between them, they cost the right wing somewhere between four and six seats which would have made the five Ministers allied under Avigdor Lieberman unnecessary which would have made him far more agreeable. One did not clear threshold mainly because Bibi Netanyahu cut their support from under them in the final two days before voting partially as revenge for past ills between Bennett and Netanyahu and partly to take the votes and the other party simply refused to merge with other right leaning parties over slight differences and an over-reliance on the polls which gave him false hopes. This will be somewhat different come September as there are now rumors that Bennett will merge his party into Likud, which we will believe when we see the report that the deal has been signed, sealed and delivered to the public. Whether the other rogue right-leaning party will join with the United Right-Wing Parties or remain on his own tilting at windmills remains to be seen. There are also rumblings that the marriage which formed the Blue-White Party may be starting to fray around the middle. Our best guess is that Lieberman and his party might find their gambit backfiring and his party not making threshold or barely getting by losing one seat. Further, Netanyahu and the Likud will very possibly be penalized by the voters costing them as many as four to five seats. These seats will mostly go to either Bennett or to the United Right-Wing Parties. The next Israeli government, without some unforeseen seismic shift in the population, will be a right of center, Zionist and nationalist government with a strong religious flavor. With the shift moving to the supporting parties from Likud, Netanyahu might finally have to find some modesty and no longer act as if the government is his plaything which must do what he demands. This could prove to be an improvement as Bibi will also need to fulfill his nationalist promises about extending Israeli civil law to the settlements, all the settlements, just as he promised. Having an increased religious-Zionist interest possibly rivaling either of the Haredi Parties, this could prove to be most interesting. The only thing left is to wait and see how everything settles out.

 

The new elections will prove revitalizing for the Jewish Home Party which was all but destroyed for the month after Bennett and Shaked left taking one more of their Knesset Ministers with them for the ride and formed his New Right Party. After some arguments, blame setting and finally deciding on the person desired to take the lead, all they had left was to convince their choice that he desired rebuilding the party. The initial answer, if the rumors are correct, told the representatives for the Jewish Home that he had no desire ever, and especially not now, to be in politics, let alone in such a responsible decision. This simply motivated the people within Jewish Home involved with the decision and they approached this gentleman again imploring him to take the challenge as it required a man of his stature and his reputation for honor, honesty, straight shooting, nerve, resolve and most of all for speaking what is in his heart and keeping to his promises as his word is his bond. Some were skeptical that any man could fill the epic hole at the heart of the party. The skeptics were dead wrong, Rabbi and retired IDF General, combat helicopter pilot, and IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz was everything that had been advertised. We here at Beyond the Cusp were amazed at the reactions we ran into when Rabbi Peretz name was mentioned for the first time to people immediately after he finally accepted the challenge. The positivity was actually amazing and now that he will have three and a half months to make speeches and be seen and heard by the average Israelis instead of having to campaign with a mere three and a half weeks to go until Election Day as he was given for the just held election. This will be an interesting election as September approaches as in Israel, elections are made or lost in the final few weeks. More to come as summer’s end nears.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.