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Time for unity

If just five Likud members stood up now and said they’ll leave the party unless Bibi resigns, he would lose his majority
"People, we are brothers" - sign seen at Kaplan rally. Photo: Nili Bresler
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The House of Cards is Falling. Now is the time for a Unity Government!

If there was ever a time for a unity government, it is now. This season of unreasonableness should serve as an urgent warning: This is the time for a new unity government. And I believe it is within our reach.

What would it take to form a unity government? Just a few good men – or women!

If just five courageous Likud members were to stand up now and say they’ll leave the party unless Bibi resigns, he would lose his majority. And this move could inspire other, less daring, Likud members to follow suit. Read on for a list of 7 potential Likud rebels who could pave the way for a unity government. A Bibi-free Likud could then be a part of a truly centrist unity government. Yair Lapid has said he would not join a unity government that included Bibi. Understandable. But without Bibi, anything’s possible. Now is the time!

I repeat: Five brave Likudniks – that’s all it would take to bring an end to this madness. Without his voting majority in the Knesset, Bibi loses the leverage he’s been using to hold his nation hostage. Bibi’s Machiavellian Justice Minister, Yariv Levin, does not have broad support. Neither do the racist fanatics, Ben Gvir and Smotrich. Without Bibi at the helm, I can see Levin, Ben Gvir, and Smotrich evaporating in a cloud of black smoke, much like the villains in a Harry Potter film.

The current coalition rests on some of the least popular leaders ever:

  • a Prime Minister who has lost the faith of his own voters. A Likudnik friend told me: “Bibi is a liar. I have voted Likud for 20 years. I will probably vote Likud again. But I won’t vote for Bibi. It is time for Bibi to go. Bibi’s time has passed.”
  • a Justice Minister despised and distrusted by members of his own party. Some Likud members were quoted recently calling Levin a “sly snake” with boundless political ambition (https://www.kikar.co.il/political-news/rtxbtk)
  • religious zealots reviled by 90% of the population. Many modern orthodox Jews deplore religious fanaticism and fear the divisiveness and inevitable backlash it will bring. There are hundreds of thousands of patriotic modern orthodox citizens in Israel. I know many of them personally. I can tell you that these people will be the first to cheer when the zealots are kicked out.

Now is the time for a few brave Likudniks to make a stand for the good of the country. Now more than ever, it is urgent that we all push for a new unity government. This new unity government could be made up of all moderate parties currently in the Knesset. And could be led by any one of several contenders. Anyone except for the person supposedly leading the government at the moment. That man, Bibi Netanyahu, is the most divisive and destructive leader we have ever had in this country.

Bibi Netanyahu is the last person who should be leading any government, let alone a unity government. When Yair Lapid says that he will not join a unity government led by Netanyahu, we can all understand him. Netanyahu has proven to be a duplicitous liar. Members of his own party attest (off the record) that he has not been functioning as a true leader for some time now.

Bibi’s time has passed. Poster seen at a recent rally. Photo: Nili Bresler

Bibi’s behavior in the past few weeks has been beyond dysfunctional: Refusing to let his citizens know when his life was in danger; refusing to officially appoint a deputy prime minister who could take over should he be incapacitated; refusing to intervene when two of his leading ministers were at odds and in dire need of a facilitator. All of this is the behavior of someone who is not a leader. Bibi is in crisis mode. He certainly does not belong at the helm of a government. He should be replaced as soon as possible.

It is apparent to all that we are on the brink of a civil war, evidenced not only by the massive protests throughout the nation but also by the small skirmishes happening daily – on public buses, at shopping centers… Israelis have reached the end of their tethers and are rising up against one another in increasingly violent incidents on the streets of Israel.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin once said that his favorite TV series was “House of Cards”. The protagonists of that series, Frank and Claire Underwood, are ruthless, scheming politicians willing to resort to anything, including murder, to quench their lust for power. One wonders how much of a role model Levin sees in Frank Underwood, known for his tagline: “Democracy is overrated”. One wonders if this is where Levin gleaned his political acumen, and even more frightening, his moral compass – or lack thereof. Israel today is, indeed, a house of cards, about to tumble.

Since 1967 Israel has had nine unity governments, some more successful than others. But none as disastrous as the current non-unity government. Yes, the promise of a unity government may seem like a flimsy banner of hope held up in a storm. It may seem like an overly-optimistic pipedream. But this country was built on flimsier pipedreams.

I am fond of saying that Israelis are, by definition, optimists. This statement is not backed up by any hard data as far as I know. For me, it’s backed up only by five decades of observation since I made Aliyah. My pessimistic friends* all take contention with my theory. *Yes, I have quite a few pessimistic friends. This fact has not deterred me. “Never let reality interfere with a good theory” is another thing I’m fond of saying.

I have been fighting on the frontlines of the protest movement for the past seven months. I do not live in a cave. I have a degree in political science from a leading university. Yet, I remain an Israeli optimist – despite all attempts of the real world to beat me out of it. So, speaking as an optimist, I am here to say that a centrist Unity Government is well within our reach right now. In fact, I believe it has never been closer.

Yuli Edelstein, Nir Barkat, Avi Dichter, Yoav Gallant, Danny Danon, Yisrael Katz, David Bitan: Each one of you has shown a bit of backbone over the past months. Each one of you has it in him to save our country. Now is the time for you to speak up. Be a hero. Show us what you are made of. Time for a palace revolt. Stand up and tell Bibi his time has passed. That will pave the way for a unity government. NOW IS THE TIME!

About the Author
Nili Bresler is a member of Israel's pro-democracy movement. She is a business communications coach with experience in management at multinational technology companies. Prior to her career in high-tech, Nili was a news correspondent for the AP. Nili holds a degree in International Relations from NYU. Nili volunteers with the nonprofit, NATAN Worldwide Disaster Relief. Nili made aliya in 1970 and lives in Ramat Gan.
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