The recent public discourse about the state budget has once again highlighted the low quality of our political leadership which is more concerned about its image than about the real implications of its policy decisions. Without a clear ideological view of his own, Finance Minister Lapid has followed the path of so many politicians before him, that of muddling through while being challenged by special interests on one side and pushed by Finance Ministry bureaucrats on the other. The net-result appears to be a noxious concoction of ill-suited, not thought through economic measures which while helping to alleviate the government’s considerable budget deficit mostly serve to stifle growth and penalize a weary public. Neither do these measures inspire hope or hold even the slightest promise for better times to come. The prospects for better times, we must therefore conclude, can only be provided by the world economy whose outlook, as supplied courtesy of the IMF, reads presently like this: “Global economic prospects have improved again, but the bumpy recovery and skewed macroeconomic policy mix in advanced economies are complicating policy making in emerging market economies.” Not a particularly cheerful forecast.
At the same time as we are being spoon fed with this sad mixture of economic misery, the political process with the Palestinians is being starved of any serious and devoted effort. A government which was specifically created with the political process off the agenda and Livni as a fig leaf, is now trying to muddle through the political process, being pushed by the Americans on one side and resisted by Naftali Bennett’s nay-sayers on the other. How long will it be possible to convince the public that this ludicrous situation where the government is holding the stick at both ends – making believe for Bennett’s sake that it is pro-settlement and against a political process and at the other side, for Livni’s sake (and Obama’s, I presume), make believe that we are really interested in negotiations with the Palestinians, can have a happy end ?
Short of any evidence to the contrary, this government is looking at a continued process of muddling through until its own self-destruction. What will determine the timing ? The creation of a clear alternative by the opposition. Until now, the only thing the opposition has been doing is telling the public that the economic measures are ill-conceived and will bring misery and that the political process with the Palestinians should move forward. It has not, in any way attempted to promote a cogent hope and confidence-inspiring alternative program towards a safer and economically more just Israel. As long as such a program is not forthcoming, this self destructive government is as safe as can be. And the public be damned.