With the Iran Deal hanging over Netanyahu’s reputation like a guillotine, now seems like the ideal time for Netanyahu and Herzog to put their differences aside and join forces in a unity government.
After all, it was Yitzhak Herzog’s father, President Chaim Herzog, who urged Peres and Shamir to do so some 30 years ago.
In 1984, the Labor Party (under a different name), led by Shimon Peres, had won the elections with 44 seats, while the Likud, led by Yitzhak Shamir, had only 41 seats. Peres attempted joining forces with other center-left parties, but President Chaim Herzog was set on a unity government. Both sides successfully put their differences aside and followed Herzog’s advice. The threat to unity governments is that the two sides will counteract each other. In this case, the government was a success! With Peres being PM the first two years and Shamir the following two, the government lasted the full term of four years, something that would seem quite impossible with Netanyahu’s current coalition.
The idea of Israel having a unity government provides the hope that maybe Netanyahu can get past his ego and his “loss of power phobia” in order to really put Israel’s needs first. Herzog and Netanyahu already have history on their side and the election polls have shown that a majority of the country is not against unity. One would think that it is a “no brainer,” but, while Netanyahu may be content on joining forces, Herzog will have to decide if it’s really worth it. After all, with being the current leader of the opposition, he could be the main candidate for the next election. The Iran Deal has proven to many that Netanyahu is not the Mr. Security candidate he claimed to be and the Israeli public will be looking for something new and different next time around. A unity government will allow Netanyahu to spread the blame and to share this government’s possibly imminent failure on Herzog and the Zionist Union as well.
While Herzog may a difficult task getting the consent of Livni, Yachimovitch, and many other Zionist Union members who will be against “making a deal with the devil,” Netanyahu will have much less trouble convincing his colleagues that they are all scared of the stain the Iran Deal will leave and the long term damage it could potentially inflict on the Likud party.
On Wednesday, Meretz chairperson Zehava Galon said:
“I know for a certainty that the Zionist Union is on its way to join the government, and the nuclear deal will only be the excuse.”.
The truth is that no one knows what will happen. Not even Herzog. It’s up to him to decide if he is willing to exchange the risk of the long term advantage of washing his hands of Netanyahu, for a chance to create a potentially strong and stable government.
Israel could be heading towards one of the best governments it’s had in years or just another short term failed venture. Only time will tell.