Beyond the Cusp

May 29, 2019

The Threats Come with Another Election

 

There were sufficient rough spots and unsteady unification for temporary gains which may fray right down the center exploding those somewhat tenuous bonds which barely survived last round. Another problem is that Likud barely received the necessary plurality of the vote to be chosen to try and make a coalition. Now the liberal left could take charge and get the opportunity to make the next coalition, assuming they are not provided with that exact opportunity after Bibi Netanyahu admits his inability to form a coalition. Such is unlikely but definitely a possibility and there is no guarantee against their taking such an offer and running with that straight to Avigdor Lieberman agreeing to give him the Defense portfolio and give a few other parties their ministries to which they aspire and cobble an unwieldly coalition which holds together long enough to permit more mischief in their ever present desire to exchange land for peace. The fear is not so much that they will provide Mahmoud Abbas all he demands, but, even before that, agree to meet every demand coming from the Arab and far leftist parties again simply to present a coalition. One item where the left has advantage over the right is their willingness to come together simply, whether convenient or directly against their individual goals and desired ends simply in order to wield such power.

 

Of course, such problems of holding together a somewhat less obvious coalitions together could, no matter how unlikely and illiberal, still unravel as egos clash and refuse to remain playing second-fiddle and decide to take their chances on their own. Such is most likely to breach the agreement under which the Blue White Party was formulated. Yair Lapid was promised a share in the position of Prime Minister but only after the leader of the other faction, Israel Resilience Party, was awarded the first two years. Holding his drive to be Prime Minister, specifically to be the Prime Minister under whose tutelage an agreement with the Palestinian Authority was reached, as if such is even likely. The friction is already fraying the bonds as the Generals leading the Israel Resilience Party were not as sufficient and important as to deliver enough additional voters so as to make theirs a majority outcome. Yesh Atid Party leader, Yair Lapid, is another who was willing to hold the lesser position simply as the method to attain his goals. With going to new elections, as all indicators are currently pointing, being a definite probability, every coalition will be tested. Basically put, once new elections become a reality, then everything returns to the starting point with all of the coalitions back at square-one. Expediency was the rule under which coalitions were made. What will serve as the binding reason putting coalitions together this time is anybody’s guess, but expected are similar agreements as went together last-time without as much of a ruckus.

 

For those parties which failed to clear threshold, new elections are another chance as hope springs eternal. The ones which came within a few hair widths, simply will be required to attract a few more voters for their recent break into the next Knesset. The other challenge is for the voters to maintain their enthusiasm and return to the polls and vote. The problem comes when the voters start to second-guess their reasoning and change their vote from the original party to a different one. Whatever is going to be with these elections will be held on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Should Bibi Netanyahu be neutral and not work so hard at taking vengeance on those he had adverse feelings towards, it would be unusual. Such has been the case between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Neftali Bennett. There is some unsettled business between these two individuals which has led Bibi Netanyahu to feel it is necessary for him to force Naftali Bennett from politics. Bibi was instrumental is keeping Bennett’s New Right secular Zionist Party from clearing threshold. It is doubtful that this will happen again as Bennett and his fellow party will hopefully broaden their campaign.

 

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu Miri Regev Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu Miri Regev Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

 

The big question is whether or not another election held so close together could cause much, if any, difference. That is where things actually get somewhat interesting. With new elections, Bennett and the New Right might pass threshold. Much will be dependent on whether his number two individual, Ayelet Shaked, remains in the party or bolts taking the offer made by Likud, which makes perfect sense as without her, the New Right will likely not make threshold again and will simply become another failed party. The mistake which Bennet made was on choosing to be, as it was described, a right-wing, Zionist, secular party with mild religious leanings. Basically, Naftali Bennett was attempting to fill a gap which did not exist. Bennett was seeking to place his party between Jewish Home and the Likud Parties, but there exists almost no space between the Likud and Jewish Home when it comes to voting blocks, thus Bennett was seeking to fill a gap which barely exists. He was out to make Likud Lite Party to give the Likud voter an alternative to Bibi Netanyahu, something they apparently were not seeking an alternative and thus he received minimal support. The fact that he almost made threshold was surprising but some also claimed that Bennett was seeking to be the replacement for the dead Jewish Home Party, the party where his surprise and abrupt departure taking with him the number two person from the Party as well as a third Minister of the Knesset all the day elections were called. His actions of refusing to permit a Central Committee meeting for close to a year, with the people who followed him and some other difficulties he pressed onto his former party, Jewish Home, it becomes clear he envisioned being their replacement except under conditions where he would personally choose the rabbinate of the party.

 

With likely merely a less effective strategy by which Bibi Netanyahu is able to depress the voters from the New Right, unless Likud does steal Shaked away leaving Bennett high and dry with no oars in the water, the end results of new elections will be very close to what they were. The main differences will be that Bennett will probably make threshold and the alliance of HaBayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home), Ichud Leumi (National Union), and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) as a block with Jewish Home as the leading party, which they called United Right Wing Parties will probably gain another mandate or possibly two. One or two of these gains will come from Likud Party going forward. This would produce a Knesset where even without Avigdor Lieberman, there would be a right-wing coalition with sixty-three to sixty-five Mandates thus preventing Lieberman from holding the government hostage, so to speak. Further, it is possible that Avigdor Liebermann and the Yisrael Beiteinu Party could suffer from voter anger over the new elections being forced by his intransigence. These votes could end up with Likud, Blue White or any of the other parties largely favoring the right over left wing parties. Should the unspeakable occur and Yisrael Beiteinu gain seats, these could come from anywhere but in the end would be supportive of a Likud led coalition. The secret in Israel with election is to forge a coalition such that no one party, other than one’s own party. Of course, the dream would be one’s own party to reach sixty-one mandates and thus be the coalition, but as Israel has very likely more political parties than one country so small would appear capable of forming, but we have and now they all are explaining how they should run the country. This is simply another instance of, only in Israel.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 27, 2019

Israeli Elections Take a Familiar Route

 

Well, the deadline for the formation of a coalition and thus make the seating of the new Knesset came and went without a coalition. This might lead one to conclude that Israel is going to go to elections once again. Well, not so fast. President Rivlin used his power to grant a one-week extension which pushed the deadline to this coming Wednesday night, May, 29th, to tell President Reuven Rivlin that he has enough support to build a coalition, and until next Monday to present coalition agreements that would have to be voted on two days later, all of which is coming at us faster than the coalition talks. The news is that the negotiations are going on around the clock. Our suspicions are around the clock means that somebody each night is told to sleep on a proposal and their dreams count as negotiating. Whatever around the clock means, it could mean that they have a countdown-clock sitting in the middle of the table as they negotiate, it does not matter, only the deadline does as there probably will not be a second extension of the deadline.

 

This raises a question, with the Israeli public almost as divided between right and left as the United States, at least in Israel there has not been any declaration of war as in America, the question to be asked is would a new round of elections make any real difference. The reality is that it most definitely could provided all the parties are included and the coalitions from the most recent elections hold. From our vantage point, the Israeli public will not be kind to those who were most responsible for forcing another round of elections. Somebody has to pay the piper for the additional and unnecessary cost of holding another election. So, this begs the question, who will pay and what will be the cost. The answers to this question are where we get to guess what the mood will be. The one positive is that it will probably be a nice sunny day with a few scattered puffy clouds. The negative is it will also probably be over thirty-three degrees C which is over ninety degrees F. Depending on the distance it is to your polling station will definitely have an effect on your mood and thus potentially your vote.

 

Bibi Netanyahu most definitively does not desire going to elections again as he got pretty much everything he desired from this last round of voting. The two people he most desired to prevent from reaching threshold did not make it into the government. The top of this list was Naftali Bennett and his New Right Party. The main thing going for Bennett’s party was Ayelet Shaked and it would be a benefit for the Zionist wing of the Conservative parties for these two people making threshold. The other was Moshe Feiglin and his Zehut Party which hoped that backing legalizing of cannabis to compliment his right wing-Zionist platform, but it was not sufficient to get him over threshold. If there would be another round of elections, where Zehut would be unlikely to gain from this, Bennett and his New Right might clear threshold as some who may have considered voting for the New Right but with developments in the final two days of campaigning, where Bibi basically declared that he was prepared to enact everything which Bennett had staked his campaign around taking all the momentum and the wind out of his sails. Bennett likely learned his lesson and realizes that he needs broaden the subjects which he has positions on and communicate them far more clearly for the electorate. There are also doubts as to whether the Union of Right-Wing Parties will be able to hold their agreement together. The other party which might be hoping for new election is the Blue White Party which was a grouping of Israel Resilience Party with Yesh Atid. This gave Yair Lapid what he hoped was the punch to steal the elections and it almost worked. Then there was the addition of the Generals of which some had been the Chief of Staff. The leading General was Benny Gantz who was joined by generals Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi. New elections would give this party a feeling that they could take over and win as they basically tied Likud but as the right had the majority of elected ministers, Likud won the right to try and form a coalition. The Union of Right-Wing Parties, providing they can remain allied, stand to gain potentially a couple of seats should the party leader, another general, Rafi Peretz get to be heard by more people, as the Jewish Home Party is out of its crisis caused by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked who bolted from the party immediately after elections were called leaving the Jewish Home Party in disarray. As one in the Jewish Home Central Committee, I can testify to the mess from which we believe we will be stronger, especially with Rafi Peretz at the helm. The one party which stands to lose some ministerial position is Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud Party as the other right-wing parties gaining have to get their votes from somewhere. The other party which might suffer some losses is the Blue White Party as some of the things said early in the campaign have gotten more play and this could prove damaging.

 

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu Miri Regev Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu Miri Regev Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

 

With things as they stand, Bibi very likely does not desire going to elections. Also, there is another reality he has to fear. President Rivlin could ask the Blue White Party to try and put together a coalition in place of elections. That is unlikely but is still a possibility which might play well to have Bibi find some way of pleasing all the various requests, though with some he has two parties demanding the same Ministership. When everything is added together, the best bet is that somewhere between the wee hours before the deadline there will be some form of agreement. How it all will play out is anybody’s guess. There is always the possibility that there will be a coalition of parties making up sixty seats and Bibi will call in some favors and have one individual join the coalition independent of their party. That would be sufficient to put the coalition to the necessary sixty-one seats, the minimum required. There is always the possibility that a coalition of sixty votes will be approved again by Bibi calling in favors to have somebody vote for the coalition though not be a party to the coalition and sit in the opposition. This is extremely odd, but with Bibi, we have learned never to count anything out of the realm of possibility. Whatever will be, we will know by Thursday morning in Israel as we wait for the smoke to clear. Those of you in America will hear about the results on your evening news. We will simply wait for the new morning as if there will be new elections, we will have at least a half dozen articles out of the insanity which that would generate. Our bet, Bibi will put together the necessary parts for a coalition if for no other reason than to prevent Bennett from getting another chance and clearing threshold. Grudges are sometimes the best of motivators, especially if you have thirty years over which you have been collecting them.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

November 19, 2018

No Elections in Israel for Now but How Long?

 

The government has been stabilized for the time being and it appears that Prime Minister will fold and provide Jewish Home Leader Naftali Bennett to become the Defense Minister in addition to being Education Minister under the condition that he will do all that is required to keep Jewish Home in the government through end of term. In the meantime, Ayelet Shaked, who holds the Justice Ministry, stated on Sunday morning, “At this stage, the government is no longer a right-wing government, unfortunately, What was to be done (appointing judges, changing the approach in the state’s positions in the Supreme Court, the Regulation Law, Ariel University, dismantling the Council for Higher Education, and many other things) – we have already done.” She further stated, “What still needs to be done (the Override Clause, the removal of infiltrators, the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar, bringing back deterrence, the prevention of terrorist funds) – it is already clear that it will not be done under this government.”

“The only justification for the continued existence of the government until November 2019 is that Bennett will revolutionize security, restore Israel’s deterrence that was lost under Liberman over the past two years, and help to break free of the deep crisis in trust in security. Without this, this government is called ‘right-wing’ but in practice fulfills left-wing policy,” Shaked continued.

Ayelet Shaked concluded, “The public is fed up with voting right and getting left, and the continuation of a faltering left-wing government will endanger right-wing rule. Therefore, we must go to elections as soon as possible in order to form a new government headed by Netanyahu, with the Jewish home the strong party to his right, such that we will finally vote right and get right.”

 

The Jewish Home now holds three of the most prominent and important Ministries, Defense which protects the nation and her citizens, all her citizens with Bennett, Education Ministry where the future is formed and children are given the tools to form the future of Israel, and the Justice Ministry under which the immediacy of the legal decisions are molded and the future of the law and its implementation and interpretation for the future. This places Jewish Home in the limelight with far more power than many might expect from a party with merely eight seats. Part of the reason that this is even considered is because Jewish Home all but committed suicide in order to avoid a Zionist Union formed government bowing before Netanyahu and his Likud Party losing a sizable percentage of their voters who may or may not ever return. The government stands and where it will now travel will depend very seriously what other events from the world around us act and what threats we will face. Naftali Bennett has stated he intends to reform parts of the IDF and intensify training making them even more capable to face the threats which Israel may face in the future. So, what will the new training actually include?

 

Well, even if we knew, we would not post such things in so public an arena. What we hope will come to assist the IDF in its future endeavors is something about which we can write. First and foremost, we have hopes that those in higher command positions who have represented a limited ability of the IDF to face certain challenges will be replaced with commanders whose faith in the strength of their forces is something which these troops will live up to. They should also invest in more intensive training for the reserves with those who require additional training to be up to the full expectations of service in the IDF made available. There might be the concept of making special units which are specialized in particular scenarios which are likely to be required such as working within tunnel and underground bunker systems, city and built-up area warfare and other such specialized training. Standards for the combat units be considered to be upgraded demanding more of the soldiers, not lower standards so the majority or even all will qualify. Fighting for the State of Israel should require soldiers who are above the normative levels. These higher requirements should start with basic training and be rigidly enforced for soldiers to serve in the infantry, tankers, Airborne, Special Forces and other specialized units. It is necessary that the Israeli infantry soldier be trained to attain a physical level above what is expected in the majority of other developed nations as the nation of Israel has a special requirement of their military fighting forces as Israel cannot afford to lose most battles and never a war as to lose a war would bring the nation to an end. The Israeli soldier needs to be capable of outperforming any adversary they may meet on the battlefield. This includes the Special Forces units from Iran or any other nation which may attack our nation. This is what every Israeli fighting soldier must be capable of meeting and out-performing.

 

IDF Crest Insignia

 

We need to try to understand exactly what transpired governmentally yesterday morning. There was a confab of the various party leaders of the coalition where they were asked whether or not they desired elections where we suspect that Prime Minister Netanyahu opened the meeting by clearly stating his desire to complete the final year of the governance and then hold orderly elections. This would have made sense as Netanyahu has an angry public on his hands and thus going to elections at the current time would be holding an election under duress. The last time such an event occurred was when the government in 1992 of Prime Minister Yitzḥak Shamir collapsed and was replaced by the government of Yitzhak Rabin and the Labor Party formed the next coalition and within a little beyond a year Israel entered into the problematic Oslo Accords which have been the basis of the problems with the PLO, Palestinian Authority as well as Gaza Disengagement leading to Hamas and Islamic Jihad amongst others and the recent barrage. This is the possibility which everyone at the meeting this morning were fully aware was a distinct possibility even if it was not a likely probability. By preserving the current government for the time being, and by trading a guarantee the Jewish Home remain in the coalition in exchange for Bennett receiving the Defense Ministry, Netanyahu has kept the one party which is most likely to gain Knesset Ministers in elections even if snap elections were called now. The remaining parties mostly face an uphill battle where they will benefit by having time to build up their voter rolls and possibly draft new candidates to attract voters over the coming year. The one who was facing the potentially greatest loss was the Likud unless they replaced Netanyahu but that would leave them with a far weaker candidate due to loss of name recognition and the experience claim. The real contest will come when Netanyahu retires from being Prime Minister, something pundits claim will not before he clears himself of accusations and investigations.

 

The legal challenges facing Netanyahu and his wife may have substance, especially if you believe most of the media, or may not, but they are very probably not going to go away. Even should Bibi be found not to be guilty of any of these current charges, some of which would be considered nonsense in much of the world, they will simply be replaced with entirely new accusations, conspiracies, denunciations, misjudgments, horrific acts and potentially accusations of treason because of something he did or something he did not do but should have done. The one thing which Netanyahu can claim is that he has been one of the most targeted Prime Ministers in Israeli history, but that will be a title he will merely hold for a limited amount of time. When another right-leaning, nationalist, Zionist and potentially religious Prime Minister forms a coalition and lasts through maybe two elections, they likely would decide that continuing further is really not worth the aggravation or the loss of one’s name, but in that brief period such a Prime Minister would collect far more such accusations etcetera in this age where if one is not a leftist politician, then they are the devil incarnate and the most demonic person the world has ever been required to suffer. If Netanyahu is not sufficient proof, look at the United States and President Trump or Britain and Prime Minister May or the past French elections and Marine Le Pen of the National Front and witness the offensives each have faced from their media as well as the world media. This is a reality for as long as the world remains capable of having nationalist and people who believe that the traditional positions and, in most cases, that the Judeo-Christian Ethic is something worthwhile and needs be saved from being transplanted by the leftist views of open morality where morality and cultures are all equally valid and everybody may pick and choose the parts of existing cultures or invent their own culture and everything is valid and acceptable. There is a simple problem with these arguments in that adage which has multiple authors, “One who believes in nothing will fall for anything.” We would like to adapt it somewhat and state, “Those who equate all cultures lose sight of the difference between good and evil.” Those who require proof, there are some far-leftists who accept devil worship as simply a choice which should not be condemned as long as no harm comes to anyone. Devil worship is acceptable and accepting evil as equal and of not of any determinable difference when compared with any other worship. Somehow, we have a problem with such a concept, but then we believe in Hashem.

 

Back to Israeli politics and why elections were avoided. Largely, it was selfish desires to hold on to power for many of the parties currently in the coalition. Then, Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation was also partly political and partly his being angered by being misrepresented and defamed by the announcement of the unanimity of the Security Cabinet vote. He had company with Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked who also challenged the statement. They made a demand to be given the vacated Defense Ministry which was the prize which kept them in the government. Bibi Netanyahu simply did not desire facing an angry public and trying to explain what just occurred under his stewardship and preferred to have a period of time pass before having to campaign. He was also facing strong resentment and potential opposition within Likud, or so some have rumored, and that was something relatively unprecedented for Netanyahu. Everybody either were rewarded for remaining in the government, feared a snap election for which their parties were unprepared, some fear their party support had eroded with time and now would be a danger to their having to face elections and one, in particular, desired for a cooling off period to pass before having to explain why there was no serious response to the Hamas launching of four-hundred-sixty rockets and launching an anti-tank missile at a bus injuring a young soldier severely. Once sufficient time has passed, Bibi will claim that he maintained peace on the southern border without the loss of soldiers and minimal damage in Israel. Of course, he will not make this speech in the south of Israel, as that would bring back memories of being treated as if they were second-class citizens. So, in the end, everyone had their reason to remaining in the government, and so the government will remain in power for now, for how long, we will have to wait and see.

 

Posting Time Morning Update

Guess here is the proof that news changes, often by the hour, and we can be misled but at least we admit our faults. Latest word is that Bibi balked withdrawing his agreement to give Bennett the Defense Minister position and has announced that he will take that position himself. This will cause Bennett and Shaked resigning and taking Jewish Home from the government. What Bibi has in mind is something fearful if we are correct. We suspect Bibi is going to try to make a super-coalition government inviting Zionist Union and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party into the government giving him the majority he requires to remain in power. This would be a drastic step and as most drastic actions, will have ruinous consequences. This will definitely place the government left of center and out of step with the Israeli people. Should Netanyahu actually do such a move, we might be witnessing another Sharon style capitulation to the leftist demands for Israel weakening her stance vis-a-vis the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas. This would entail ending all building in the Shomron, no destruction of anything the Palestinian Authority claims is valid and, heaven forbid, a return to the destruction of Jewish homes, settlements, villages and towns. The other choice is elections somewhere from late February to mid-March. The problem is it would not be all that surprising to see Bibi make a sudden turn to the left and embrace their policies similar to what Prime Minster Sharon did when he formed Kadima in order to execute the Gaza Disengagement which brought us to this point, and may now take Israel further down the rabbit hole, except unlike Alice, our rabbit hole has only the nastiest of bunnies.

 

Meanwhile, the realism has to point to the “Really Big and Precious Secret” which he claims he must never share, even with his former Defense Minister or any of the other Security Cabinet members. Bibi has a secret and he’s refusing to share. On the other hand, this secret appears to imply that Bibi is right and every one else is clueless as they do not know his secret. For now, Jewish Home will remain in the government, but they did so demanding the Prime Minister start to consider all Israelis equally and be strong in defending the people. He left a challenge for the Prime Minister to prove he will be a forceful response and work regardless of the world reactions keeping Israel as his top priority.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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