Artificial Respirator keeping the Government alive

Israel’s current “Unity” government was on its last breaths until it was thrown a temporary lifeline that will keep it functioning on an artificial respirator for 100 more days. Netanyahu & Gantz accepted MK Tzvi Hauser’s compromise that extends the deadline for the state budget by 100 days. However, that will not be enough to prevent a 4th election.

The “Hauser Compromise” is an act that tramples over Israel’s Basic Laws and the norms of Israeli governance. The compromise states that the deadline for passing the state budget will be delayed by 100 days, and that all the disagreements within the coalition are to be temporarily frozen (Nominating Israel’s Attorney General, Head of the Israeli Police and State Attorney). The government can now go back to performing certain duties but cannot tackle necessary issues.

So what made Bibi agree to this compromise? There are a couple of reasons. First, Netanyahu gains time. The Corona crisis is here to stay (at least for now), and so far, Netanyahu has been busy taking care of “his people” (the Likud) and his natural partners (the Ultra-Orthodox parties), as opposed to taking care of issues stemming from the Corona crisis. Arbitrary decision making, rapid policy changes and a lack of personal role modeling by Israel’s leadership has caused the people to lose trust in the Government (not to mention the fact that Israel now leads in the category of number of people infected per capita with Covid). It’s hard to measure the mental & physical health damages, but the impact on Israel’s economy and society is significant. The fact the PM and his allies are attacking the system and not backing up the Coronavirus czar, Prof. Roni Gamzu, reduces the publics discipline. For Netanyahu, chaos is the best situation, regardless of its long-term impact on Israel.

But let us look at the reality. Netanyahu is concerned with the fact that come January; Netanyahu will have to regularly spend time in Court, dealing with his corruption cases. Pertaining to issues surrounding his cases, he declared he will not take part in nominating Israel’s next gate keepers as mentioned before, but he is blasting everybody who stands in his way (Kachol Lavan & Attorney General, Avichay Mandelblit). One must ask, why does he even care about who will be the next gate keepers? What effect will they have on his trial?  Well, a “friendly” prosecutor can be better at considering Netanyahu’s demands in his trials, a prosecutor that can influence the order of the cases and witnesses towards Netanyahu’s requests is very important for the PM. A friendly Attorney General can defend him when the Supreme Court will have to deal with disqualification attempts. A political Head of the Israeli Police will be harder on the opposition and the ongoing protestors against Netanyahu’s corruption.

The gate keepers are supposed to be elected through professional committees, however, Netanyahu and the Likud wants the committees and gate keepers to be controlled by politicians, whereas Kachol wants the committees and gate keepers to be controlled by non-political special committee.

The issue of the budget and the ramifications behind appointing Israel’s new “gate keepers” nearly destroyed the government. However, Hauser came to a compromise by keeping the government alive, putting it on an artificial respirator, by postponing the nominations of Israel’s gate keepers, and postponing the decision regarding Israel’s state budget, leaving these explosive topics to somewhere down the road.

The other thing that troubles Netanyahu, is the rise of Naftali Bennet. Since the beginning of the Corona crisis, Bennet is behaving as the adult leader – going around the country, meeting with people and providing solutions. Bennet is successfully building his image as a decision maker. His actions translate into effective results in the polls, as his party, Yamina, gets 18-20 mandates. The people living in the PM residence on Balfour Street despise Bennet, and more than that – Netanyahu likes his allies small and dependent on him.  A strong Yamina party means giving up power to Bennet. Netanyahu will use this compromise to buy some time and see how he can weaken Bennet. It is possible that we will see Netanyahu investing in the settlers and modern orthodox more, in order to regain their support, which was weakened due to the Annexation that never happened.

Netanyahu’s opponents need to prepare themselves as this is probably going to be a long campaign and it will get uglier every minute that goes by. Netanyahu has removed the gloved years ago, and the government will fail to deliver and will fail to promote Israel’s interests. The bad blood between the Likud & Kachol Lavan will keep on gushing, and another round of elections seems inevitable.

About the Author
Yaakov (Kobi) Cohen is an Israeli-American, born in Jerusalem and now reside to New York City where he works in a Jewish Non-for-Profit. As a political activist, Cohen is most interested in the Israeli-American Jewish relationship and its impact on the future of the Jewish world and seeking to build bridges between Israelis & Jewish Americans, or at least establish a different dialogue. Kobi is a co-founder of Israel Shelanu and Host of BALAGAN - Explaining Israeli Politics Podcast
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