Uri Pilichowski
Author, Educator and Father - Brother to All

The (Im)Perfect Coalition Solution

President Reuven Rivlin watches, as opposition leader Benny Gantz shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hours before laying claim to his job (AFP Photo/YONATAN SINDEL)
President Reuven Rivlin watches, as opposition leader Benny Gantz shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hours before laying claim to his job (AFP Photo/YONATAN SINDEL)

This year’s Israeli election process has been a dysfunctional mess. The inability of Israel’s elected officials to form a government speaks to two major problems; inflexible partisan positions and larger than life egos. As our leaders stick to one or the other (or both), no one is willing to sufficiently compromise to make a deal that would form a government. With the assumption that if everyone gives and gets a little, no one will be perfectly happy, but will be somewhat satisfied with what they’ve received, and having a government is better than not having a government, I propose the following ideas to form a broad coalition. There are three major divisions between the various parties that need to be addressed to form a coalition.

The largest gap that needs to be bridged is between Blue and White and Likud. On most policies they agree; the sticking point is Prime Minister Netanyahu. Likud insists on him staying and serving as Prime Minister, Blue and White want him out. A fair compromise is that Prime Minister Netanyahu continues as Prime Minister for a year and a half and then agrees to leave politics forever. If he is indicted before the year and a half has been completed he agrees to resign immediately. In this agreement neither side gets what it wants, but Likud gets 18 more months of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Blue and White knows that he is finished and they take over soon.

The second largest division is between religious and secular parties. The parties disagree about stores, roads and busses running on Shabbat, yeshiva funding, and whether Haredim must be drafted into the army. Currently, 25% of Haredim join the army on their own. It is Israel’s best kept secret. If legislation is passed to force Haredim into the army, that number will drop sharply, and Haredim will prefer to be jailed than to serve. Nothing will have been accomplished. Instead, 75% of Haredim should be allowed to skip the draft for the next four years and then everyone agrees to reopen the discussion/debate in four years. Haredim agree agree to not stand in the way of Haredim who willingly draft and initiate programs to remove the stigma of Haredim who draft into the IDF. Haredim also agree to allow secular neighborhoods and cities to open businesses, roads and busses on Shabbat. Haredim will receive a billion shekel for their schools and no government interference in their curriculum but agree to allow al post IDF Haredim to attend university or trade schools.

The next break is between Israeli Jews and Arabs. Shaked, Liberman and Netanyahu should allow the Joint List to join the coalition. The Joint List agrees to focus the next four years on social justice issues and refrain from provocative comments about Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. In return they receive billions of Shekalim to initiate programs to improve quality of life issues for Israeli Arabs.
With these compromises, all nine parties should be able to join the largest and most broad coalition in Israel’s history. This broad coalition can only work if our elected leaders are able to muster the humility necessary to recognize that their positions aren’t the only ones that are valid, and that national unity and functionality are preferable to obstinance and ideology. To put it simply, we need our leaders to get over themselves and their own positions and look to the greater good of the country.

About the Author
Rabbi Uri Pilichowski is an educator. As a teacher, author and speaker, he teaches Torah and Politics, where he specifically emphasizes rational thought and conceptual analysis.
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