Head of Israel Democracy Institute addresses JPost-Maariv conference

Plesner pointed out that politically, Israel has been in a state of inactivity for the past year.

By ALAN ROSENBAUM
September 11, 2019 19:38
2 minute read.
Yohanan Plesner at The Jerusalem Post elections conference, April 3rd, 2019

Yohanan Plesner at The Jerusalem Post elections conference, April 3rd, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

In an address at the Jerusalem Post-Maariv Elections Conference held in Herzliya, Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, warned that should next week’s elections prove inconclusive, Israel will find itself in a state of crisis.

Plesner suggested that the upcoming elections will likely yield one of three possible outcomes –a narrow coalition, the formation of a national unity government, or the need for a third round of elections. The cost of conducting a third round of elections, said Plesner, would be a huge sum – 2.5 billion shekels. 


Plesner pointed out that politically, Israel has been in a state of inactivity for the past year. Programs have been put on hold, and major decisions have been delayed. Israel’s Ministries of Economy and Finance has not been able to proceed with reforms to lower food prices. The Interior Ministry has delayed major plans of local municipalities, and appointments of senior officials such as judges and the police chief have been delayed until further notice.

This freeze, says Plesner, has had economic and national consequences that are critical for Israel’s security, such as the delay in the introduction of President Trump’s peace initiative. Additionally, Israel’s overall inactivity has harmed its relations with other countries.

If a narrow coalition emerges, asserted Plesner, it will come at great cost. The coalition demands of the various parties have been estimated between NIS 20 billion and 50 billion. A narrow coalition is also likely to grant individual Knesset members the ability to bring down the government yet again, thus necessitating another round of elections. Worst of all, he said, a narrow government, based on the coalition negotiations that took place just a few months ago, threatens to undermine the democratic principles of the country, while basing these momentous changes on a small majority that does not reflect the wishes of large segments of society.

Plesner said that the vast majority of the Israeli public is opposed to changing the rules of government that have been in place for the past seventy years. The Israel Democracy Institute, he said, will use all of the tools at its disposal to educate decision makers about these important issues and ensure that the next government, in whatever configuration it is formed, will not be dedicated to trampling the judiciary.

While a broad, national unity government is also not an ideal, he said, and it seems that it would be difficult for bitter opponents to find a common denominator, Israel’s political history has shown that it is possible.



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