Many people awoke today feeling like their very institutions have betrayed them. How can it be that the Knesset dissolves itself a mere month after being sworn in? Some countries such as Italy have a democratic history that is comparable but not for the positive. It seems that, instead of getting on with the very important dilemmas in running this country, we will spend months more in paralysis. Prime Minister elect Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) was not able to form a coalition. As such, a billion shekels and months of time need to be spent on a second round. All so Bibi may have a different set of cards to form a coalition.
Something is wrong with this picture.
It is time to wake up. This is the country of the Jewish people not only the country of Bibi. What makes this country great is the ability granted to its constituents the right to choose who will govern them. For many years, as BDS and anti Semites the world over tried to cast us in a negative light, it was this democracy that was a shining light unto others. It was our ability to be free truly that made us different to the other countries of this region. Yes we live in a tough neighborhood but yes we are also a democracy.
Many will be angry but having a round two may save Israel’s democratic character. For weeks now there was substantiated talk of granting Bibi immunity from persecution. To do thus would mean undermining Israel’s Supreme Court. While some have argued that the court has too much power and unjustly overrules the elected Knesset (verses the judges that are unelected), it nevertheless acts as an important check on abusive power. To have passed the legislation proposed by the right wing would have stymied the court, giving the Knesset veto power without checks and balances on anything it passes. This would have turned Israel into another Turkey. We would have traded a part of our uniqueness for reasons that are not substantially explained except to grant Bibi immunity from persecution. If there is a problem with the court this should trigger a societal debate and both the court and the Knesset should work on a solution. Perhaps both could work on a constitution for the State of Israel like exists in Canada or the United States. This is a healthy approach, what was proposed was not.
There is also Trump’s so called “deal of the century” which may or may not be released. A renewed debate should be ignited on how Israel should best handle the international pressures of peace making. This includes the “left wing” voices. Remember it was a right wing leader Ariel Sharon that withdrew from the Gaza Strip and another right wing leader Menahem Begin that returned Sinai. To believe that only the right has the stomach to hold onto Israel’s territorial integrity is not supported by history. A general debate among all should occur as this issue will resurface.
Then there is the suddenly forgotten issue of Gaza. Is the policy of appeasing Hamas, as Bibi has been doing to secure quiet, the proper approach? One day it will explode again and will we again give in to their demands?
The election provides more time for a healthy societal debate over what is important. Not much emphasis was given round one to how the right wing would govern the country except to highlight Bibi’s exceptionalness, especially in foreign affairs and economic growth. How will one truly address the lag in social services that is a current issue affecting millions who live here? The haredi draft law which is the trigger for the renewed elections, how can it be best handled and what should be the role of religion in the state? How can one build an Israel that our children will be truly proud to belong to, one that is open, strong, yet free?
A new election cycle reignites the debate over policy in this country. It should not be about Bibi but about the people of this country in which he is supposed to serve. His action to trigger elections, believing that he is the only one capable of governing is the crux of the matter. Since when is this Bibi’s state?
This country is about the people of Israel. As such these elections are the best gift the people of Israel have and worth the money if used wisely. Now we can truly choose. We know what will happen if we re-elect Bibi. Now let’s give the people of Israel the final verdict.