Yet Another Election

21 June 2022


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Israeli Governing Coalition Collapsing


The Israeli governing coalition is collapsing. A year ago, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett assembled a coalition government spanning the political spectrum dedicated to keeping former PM Benjamin Netanyahu out of power. Yesterday, he and Yaid Lapid (leader of the country\'s largest centrist party) announced they had "exhausted all efforts to stabilise the coalition" following the defection of one of Mr. Bennett\'s own members of the Knesset. Mr. Lapid will become actimg PM and the Knesset will dissolve itself formally next week. That means Israel will have its fifth election in since April 2019.

The straw that broke the camel\'s back was a bill to extend the two-tier legal system that exists on the Israeli-occupied West Bank. This law distinguishes between Palestinians and settlers, with the former being treated far less well than the latter. Several Arab members of the Knesset declined to vote for the measure because they believe it is nothing short of apartheid.

This law has been approved by the Knesset every 5 years for 50 years. It is a sign of how divided Israelis are that the opposition decided to genuinely oppose the bill. Usually there are few dissenters. Without a majority, PM Bennett, a former leader of settlers, had little choice but to dissolve the Knesset. Being anti-Netanyahu was simply not enough.

Technically, the right-wing parties in the Knesset could try to assemble a majority and prevent the need for an election. However, that would involved bringing Mr. Netanyahu into the negotiations. If that has to happen, the government would prefer it occurs after a fresh election.

Having gone to the polls so many times and having received more or less the same result (a government that has trouble lasting a full term in office), Israelis are tired of the whole process. That is unfortunate, but it is not an excuse for giving up on the process.

Mr. Lapid said it best when he said, "What we need to do today is go back to the concept of Israeli unity. Not to let dark forces tear us apart from within." He was speaking of the years Mr. Netanyahu was in office, but in a broader context the idea still applies. Stable governments rely on stable majorities. Protest voting does little to help.

The Israeli electoral system, however, encourages small parties to contest elections, and the list system finds a way to get them seats. The problem has been aggravated in recent elections due to dissatisfaction among the electorate. When Golda Meier was Prime Minister, her Alignment bloc (the Labor party and some others) held 45 seats and went into coalition with the Heirut-Liberal bloc that had 25 seats. Holding 71 seats in an assembly of 120 is stable. In the last election, only two groups broke into double digits: Likud with 30 and YeshAtid with 17. Getting to 61 was difficult.

So long as the political factions of Israel are content to fight elections for just a few seats that might help them hold the balance of power, nothing is going to change. Someone, somewhere along the political spectrum is going to have to cobble together a decent alliance of some of the current parties that has a shot at winning 40-50 seats. So far, no one seems to be working toward that.

Meanwhile, Mr. Netanyahu is planning on leading Likud, and if he wins enough seats to claim the job of PM, he will certainly use its power to thwart the prosecution in his corruption cases currently in Israeli courts.

© Copyright 2022 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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