Israel’s Seinfeld election

Netanyahu has admitted Israel is heading to the polls only because of the behavior of its politicians.

December 3, 2014 00:17
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu smiles before delivering joint statements to the media in Jerusalem December 1. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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American political commentators constantly referred to last month’s midterm race in the US as a “Seinfeld election,” because voters went to the polls to cast their ballots in a race that the analysts said was “a show about nothing.”

Israelis feel the same way about the upcoming election in their country, according to polls broadcast Tuesday night. A Channel 2 poll found that 55 percent of respondents are against holding early elections and just 38% in favor.

When Channel 10 asked who is to blame for the early election, 25% said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, 21% Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, and 49% said both.

Serious issues like how to make peace in the Middle East, how to restore security, or how to bridge the gaps between rich and poor were not brought up in the polls, because the election was not called for any of those things.

Netanyahu admitted that Israelis are going to the polls only because of the behavior of their politicians. He listed examples alleging that Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni undermined him over the last several months.

They countered with complaints about his own behavior. The mudslinging will only intensify when the parties begin their campaigns, hire strategists, and start unveiling their election slogans and propaganda.

By attacking each other, the party heads will only help former social welfare minister Moshe Kahlon, who wisely stayed out of the current Knesset and now can play the role of the outsider who can come in and make things better again.

Kahlon is the big winner of the government’s crumbling. The list of winners can also include two ministers who left a sinking ship in time: former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar and former environment minister Amir Peretz.

Likud activists called upon Sa’ar to return to politics only a month after he left and challenge Netanyahu for the Likud leaderhip. But he intends to wait on the sidelines, and perhaps he will be called upon to return in a post-Netanyahu era.

Peretz looks good now for leaving his cabinet seat, unlike Livni and Lapid, who continued to justify staying put until an hour before Netanyahu fired them. They are the most obvious losers from this week’s political developments.

But the list of losers must also include the Israeli public as a whole, which voted out half the last Knesset less than two years ago in an effort to elect people who would serve them better. Now they will have to go to the polls again in hopes of better luck this time.

The election will decide who will lead Israel at a challenging time for the Jewish state's security, diplomacy, and economy. So in the words of Shakespeare, there will be much ado about nothing.

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