Jaime Kardontchik
Jaime Kardontchik

A practical solution to Israel’s deadlock

Yuli Edelstein should be tasked with forming the next government and become Prime Minister. Edelstein served as Knesset Speaker from 2013 to 2020. He has shown his strength of character and provided a personal example during his days as a prominent refusenik in Soviet Russia. He is respected by the Israeli public and even a Labor Knesset member, Omer Bar-Lev, proposed him for this job after the indecisive second election round in 2019.

And here are the potential coalition partners for this government: Likud (30), Yamina (7), New Hope (6), Yesh Atid (17), Blue & White (8), Labor (7), Shas (9), United Torah Judaism (7) and Ra’am (4). These are 95 Knesset members, representing the views of the majority of the Israeli population: a center-right secular block (Likud, Yamina and New Hope, 43), a center-left secular block (Yesh Atid, Blue & White and Labor, 32), a religious Jewish block (Shas and UTJ, 16) and an Arab party (Ra’am, 4). Having a wide-ranging coalition will hopefully eliminate unjustifiable sectarian demands from individual parties and help heal the divisions within the Israeli society.

Neither Netanyahu, Lapid nor Gantz should serve as cabinet Ministers under Yuli Edelstein. By their own predisposition, they will not accept his leadership and essential government work will be negatively impacted.  The latest example of this gloomy state of affairs was given last week, when Gantz cancelled a government meeting that had been called to discuss the purchase of an additional NIS 3.5 billion worth of vaccines and a NIS 3.5 billion budget increase for the health system to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic [Jerusalem Post, March 29, 2021, reported by Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman]. I want Yuli Edelstein to succeed, and not become instead a short-time caretaker until the next round of elections.

Yisrael Beytenu (7) should not be part of the coalition government. Its rhetoric has deeply antagonized significant parts of the Israeli public, both Jews and Arabs. The Religious Zionism list (6) should be left out of the government too: it hosts inside it the extreme views of the Otzma Yehudit faction.

Meretz (5) and the Joint List (6) represent unique ideological sectors, but their views are very far apart from the vast majority of the Israeli public. Hence, their right place is to make their voice heard in the Knesset but outside the government.

For many in Israel, some positions and ideas taken by the latter four parties might be quite obnoxious. However, the right to express ideas in a civil manner at the individual level, and have them politically represented also in the Knesset, are vital for a democratic society. It is better to have all the opinions in the open, and vigorously debated, instead of having them proliferating underground and enabling thus a false narrative that they are popular: their actual support should clearly be shown by the actual number of Knesset members they carry with their votes.

About the Author
Jaime Kardontchik has a PhD in Physics from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. He lives in the Silicon Valley, California.
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