Josef Olmert
Josef Olmert

The government plonter and how to solve it

In the land of impossible politics it is the new national sport of pundits, journalists and probably ordinary citizens-form a new government and save the beloved country. Some crazy ideas are surfacing, for example, have Naftali Bennett as PM with his seven seats, something which under normal circumstances should bring about a laughter expressed with the highest possible decibels , but this are not normal times. Yet, the question remains-is it the case, that Israel should succumb to the current situation and plunge towards the land of the bizarre , or will it still be able to find a solution which is not ideal, but is realistic enough. So, here is where I am throwing my hat in, and offer my dream team , the government which can take Israel back from the edge of the abyss to the realm of political sobriety. The key to it, is for PM Netanyahu to agree not to be the one who forms the new government. It may seem a delusional thought on my part, but this is where a prediction should be somewhat of a risk-yes, in few days time, it may seem a fantasy out of my burning brains, but it could be also the opposite. In fact, the risk here is not absolute-there are signs that Netanyahu considers it, in fact, even more importantly, there are signs that hitherto his subordinates in Likud consider it. It is called political realism, or , if I am to quote my favorite politician Benny Begin, it has to do with the inseparable connection between a chair and the bottom part of the body of politicians… in simple words-the desire of the Likudniks not to separate themselves from the comfort zone of portfolios and jobs. Those who know something about the DNA of the current Likud, know full well that the agitated members of the Likud Central Committee love Netanyahu, but more so, they love to be in government. Here is where they can combine the two-they will claim, that even giving up on the PM position, Netanyahu continues to be the strong man, the king maker , and yes, the jobs are also preserved, not a mute point as already mentioned. The ”small” question of who will fill Netanyahu’s shoes is , of course, not ignored by me. All indications are, that Nir Barkat is the guy to look at, but in the Likud Central Committee also Israel Katz and Yariv Levin stand a good chance. Last but not least in this context-Netanyahu continues to be a member of the Knesset, and hopefully he will prove right about his legal case, that ”nothing will happen because there is nothing”, and if that happens and he is acquitted , he can return to the post he considers his, that of PM.

So, if we overcome this hurdle, then what and who else?. Here is my dream coalition ; LIKUD-BENNETT-SA’AR-GANTZ-SHAS -TORAH JUDAISM AND… RA’AM. First , an explanation why Lapid, Lieberman, Meretz, Labor and the Religious Zionists of Smotrich are out. It is because Israel needs a period of relative stability and beginning of reconciliation and healing. Noble causes which are not going to be achieved quickly and by any type of political abra cadabra, but it has to start , and it cannot start when parties whose political platform is based on conducting a Jihad against the Haredim, meaning Lapid and Lieberman can be in. Nor can it include Smotrich and Ben Gvir with their racist anti Arab positions, as well as the medieval notions about the LGBTQ community. Meretz supports the ICC in Hague crucifying Israel and the IDF, and if that is the case, then they are out. Labor is becoming Meretz B , maybe Meretz is Labor B, but a party which includes somebody like Ms.Maraana is also not a viable coalition partner. Here is a point to be emphasized-any process of reforming national solidarity cannot be based on post, if not anti Zionist agenda, or on a religious warfare. This begs the question about who do I include in my suggested dream government and why.

Let us start with the Haredim, and clearly it is a big stretch to argue, that they necessarily symbolize a Zionist agenda as I , for one, would like to see. The truth however is, that Shas is now full-fledged members of the WZO, and Torah Judaism while being formally non-Zionist, has made large steps in the right direction, and these were was the events of COVID which may have set it back, but did not stop the process or reversed it. Theirs and Shas inclusion in the government should categorically be based on a strict maintenance of the status quo in religious matters, while having people like Lapid and Lieberman in the government means an active campaign to change this status quo and a religious war between Jews , exactly what Israel does not need now. In Israeli politics the choices are not between good and better, rather between bad and worse. Likud under any PM will not go to a coalition without the Haredim, and there has to be a government with Likud. That brings us to RA’AM, and the historic opportunity we have to finally after 73 years start a genuine process of integrating Israeli Arabs in being a part of those who run the state, rather than being those who are out of it and work against it. On so many issues, RA’AM is not my cup of tea, and this is only to say the very least, but there is one point that should tip the balance-the one in a life time prospect of starting something new with legitimate representatives of Israeli Arabs. Let them object to operations in Gaza[though Likud and Gantz also are bending over backwards to evade them…], but let them do also a lot for the people who elected them. Yes, Mansour Abbas could and should be a minister with budgets and power, and he is NOT the party which decides the very establishment of the government, hence a good reason for those who are concerned about RA’AM having this power, to rest assured that it is not the case.

We are left with Gantz, Bennett and Sa’ar-I personally need the strongest number of glasses to detect differences between them and Likud without Netanyahu at the helm. Sa’ar and Bennett’s real wet political dream is to compete for Likud /Right Wing leadership in the post-Netanyahu era. So, here is MY next government-can it be? .Probably not, but even toying with this idea, even considering this formation is something worth the try. With so much madness muddying Israeli politics, this scenario can provide some fresh air, clearly a good food for thought, and this also is something in these days of national confusion and deep crisis.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina
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