Avram Israel Reisner
Rabbi Emeritus of Chevrei Tzedek Congregation, Baltimore, MD

A Unity Government Is in Order

What is holding up a unity government?

The numbers seem clearly to point to the need for Likud and Blue and White to find a way to govern the country together from the middle. They have achieved rough parity at the ballot box, and together they command a majority of Israel’s Knesset, and none of the other parties approaches them.

So what is holding up their agreement?

A ploy by Netanyahu to assure his continued dominance. Before approaching Blue and White about a possible unity government, Netanyahu solicited the backing of three religious and right wing parties, then came to negotiations claiming to have 55 seats behind him, rather that the 32 which were cast for him. Understandably, Blue and White is unwilling to enter a government on those terms.

The ploy is characteristic. Netanyahu has indicated that he feels it his place to determine not just the makeup of Likud’s list, but in April he moved to structure the list for the Union of Right Wing Parties, pressuring it to include Otzma Yehudit in its list, and even giving one of Otzma’s candidates a place on the Likud list. In September he coaxed Moshe Feiglin of Zehut not to run by offering him a ministry.

But it is not anyone’s place to manipulate the Israeli voting public. A majority of the Israeli electorate indicated its support of either Likud or Blue and White. Once that center has united under the terms of parity dictated by the electorate, then additional parties might be added to the governing mix — with none having the coercive power that flows from holding the power to cause the government’s dissolution.  That, more than a specific desire for a secular government, was the message of the electorate.

Time to abandon the games and do that which is called for.

Another round of elections is not.

About the Author
Avram Israel Reisner is Rabbi Emeritus of Chevrei Tzedek Congregation. He has a PhD in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary.