Robbie Michaelson
Neither Right Nor Left - Just Passionate

Heading for elections — not likely

There will be a government put together because all of the major players involved have no principles other than to stay in power. They therefore will take the lead of Benjamin Netanyahu and at the end of the day make whatever “compromises” are necessary to not have to go to new and unpredictable elections. Nobody within the Likud, who have already been stacked with Netanyahu supporters, will demur.

To begin with, never sell Benjamin Netanyahu short. Like a heavyweight boxer, he may look like he is down for the count, but until the referee counts to 10, he is not out. If there is one quality that Netanyahu has demonstrated time and time again – it is that he is very good at pulling victory from the jaws of defeat.

Like a cornered animal our prime minister is fighting for his political life, his legacy and perhaps his civilian freedom. And like a cornered animal he will lash out in every and any direction to survive and to hold onto power. If he needs to sell out some principles — so be it.  If he needs to burn some party members — they will be sacrificed. If he needs to put himself above the law – he will look for a way.

The Haredi parties maximised their electoral potential this last election. The turnout in some Haredi districts topped 90%. They hit an electoral “grand slam” that even with the well-oiled Haredi “turn-out-the-vote” machine they are not likely to duplicate. So they will, in the end, bend to help make a Government.

The same can be said for Rafi Peretz,  Betzalel Smotrich and Company. They know that are unlikely to be in as strong as bargaining position again any time soon. So they will cave to Netanyahu in the end, after receiving some cabinet positions that will definitely not be in the best interests of the people of Israel. Let’s get serious, Bennett was a pretty good Minister of Education and Smotrich will be a disaster for the children of Israel.

Moshe Kahlon and his Kulanu Party barely made it past the electoral threshold. From eight mandates they shrank to four. Kahlon was approached by the Kahol & Levan but prefers remaining part of an Netanyahu-led government than leaving a political environment he has known for several Knesset terms. Kahlon will probably remain the Finance Minister in another Netanyahu government and is apparently motivated by an ego than is only surpassed by that of the prime minister.

So that leaves Avigdor Liberman as the remaining “wild card” between Netanyahu and the cobbling together of another right wing government; or rather a right of center government that will be influenced by religious Zionists, less-Zionist Haredi factions and extremists who admired and supported the late Rabbi Meir Kahane. Lieberman and Netanyahu go way back together – from the “beginning.” It has mostly been a love-hate relationship. Lieberman has now added a “card” to his deck with the information being circulated that perhaps Ayelet Shaked may join forces with Yisrael Beytenu were another election be in the offing. Lieberman is unpredictable; however everything coming out of Israel Beiteinu has been consistent in one regard — their unwillingness to support any Government that is not headed by Netanyahu.

The enlistment of the Haredi into Tzahal is really a joke that has become a political issue that clouds the bigger picture. Large numbers of Haredi yeshiva students will  never be enlisted; only those who don’t want to study Torah will be eligible for conscription; and truth-be-told the Army is less than enthusiastic absorbing new recruits with the real life-skills coming out of the ultra-orthodox environment. So whatever final arrangement will be brokered regarding this future enlistment will be little more than a cosmetic cover-up obscuring a much bigger societal problem.

When the dust settles, between this Monday and this coming Wednesday, Lieberman will join the government as the defense minister again, this time with Aviv Kochavi as the army chief, and the relatively ineffective plan to enlist some Haredi into the IDF. Shas and the UTJ will have received increased portfolios to spread their influence over the general population and receive increased monies for their constituents. Peretz and Smotrich will be in a position to control our children’s education and cement their power base in Judea and Samaria. And last of all, “King Bibi” will be that much closer to securing his “immunity law” and curtailing the power of our Supreme Court.

About the Author
First came to Israel as a volunteer after the Six Day War. Made Aliyah in 1972, served in the IDF, stayed in Israel for 4 years. Returned again to live permanently in Israel in 2017. Am widely traveled & strong supporter of Zionism. Have an M.A. in International Relations from McGill University.
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