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To our probably-confused friends around the world,
News from Israel has featured murmurings of elections in the air for a number of weeks now. This was poo-poohed by most, and these pundits were right. There was no real reason for the current Netanyahu coalition government to fall. No religious-laws crisis. No security-related dissention. Nothing that would point to the need to dissolve a standing Knesset and call for new elections – and new coalition building, not a simple job.
It’s common knowledge that those who vote for new elections often have the most to lose. And in this case, it is true. Parties sprang up overnight, on vague platforms that seemed palatable to voters who weren’t in the mood to split hairs over this policy or that. They wanted pure straight leadership and that is what they were promised. It is these parties who stand to lose now.
Well, those purist constituents were in for a quick surprise, and they got it over the last few months, when leaders of most parties took the seemingly-high road and claimed to be arguing over the very values of our Jewish and democratic state. But it is not the Basic Law of the National Homeland that is felling this government. That bill was actually agreed upon, after discussion and compromise. Just last week, in the heat of the Knesset debate, leaders of the ‘warring’ parties told me they were sure this would be resolved, and so it was.
But the snowball effect is perhaps stronger than we expect, and thus tonight, the Prime Minister has fired two of his coalition partners and taken away their ministerial portfolios: Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (good riddance to nothing) and Finance Minister Yair Lapid (head on his shoulders but apparently not the political smarts to make it work).
The truth is, they just don’t get along. These artificially-combined coalition world views really are too varied to create serious political work together.
So the Israeli public will pay with tax money (our way of supporting a large part of election campaigning) and with tedious slogans and probably a social media battle, the first of its kind here in Israel – as early as this Spring.
Can’t wait. May the RIGHT men (and women) win. Don’t forget to vote.