Should we expect a political breakthrough this week? - analysis

Blue and White and Likud have their political reasons for not moving things forward at the moment, but are they taking Israeli citizens into consideration?

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet to discuss possible political frameworks, October 27 2019 (photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet to discuss possible political frameworks, October 27 2019
(photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
The Blue and White negotiating teams’ agenda is officially empty this week. With two and a half weeks left to his mandate to form a government, the list’s chairman, Benny Gantz, doesn’t have any meetings planned with other party leaders this week, either.
This is in stark contrast to last week, when the negotiators or Gantz had meetings every day.
And yet, no progress has been made. There hasn’t even really been a hint of things to come.
Blue and White’s busy schedule last week didn’t bring any results, and, if anything, ended with its negotiators along with those in Likud more skeptical than ever that they can work together and avoid a third election.
So many politicians – including the leaders of Likud and Blue and White – have said a third election will be disastrous and Israel needs a stable government already. Therefore, one would think that Blue and White would be trying extra hard right now.
But there are a couple of factors at play that are slowing things down.
When President Reuven Rivlin tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with forming a government, back in September, Netanyahu said that while he will genuinely try to form a coalition while he still has the mandate, he predicted that no breakthrough will take place until the deadline nears.
Some in Blue and White have started saying similar things now that Gantz has the mandate. They made a real effort at first, but they don’t expect anything to move until the last minute.
Only when the specter of a third election, which, theoretically, no one wants, becomes a real and imminent possibility will people start to show some flexibility, is the idea here.
But lately, the sides have been accusing one another of actually wanting a third election.
Each side could reasonably want a third election, for entirely different reasons.
A 103FM poll showed last week that if there is a third election, 52% of voters would blame Netanyahu, and only 27% would blame Blue and White’s leaders, Gantz or Yair Lapid.
And while the same poll showed that if an election took place now the result would be almost identical to what it was in September, New Right leader Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that a third election would be disastrous for the Right.
Blue and White’s leaders could look at the political situation and think to themselves that they
might benefit from a third election. If the public truly blames Netanyahu, maybe the Likud will lose votes and Blue and White will have a clearer path to victory.
The Likud in general probably doesn’t have a good reason to want an election. As Bennett said, it’s hard to imagine the Right doing better in a third election. The Right had a clear victory in April, but that was back when Yisrael Beytenu was a reliable member of the right-wing bloc. Without leader  Avigdor Liberman, the Right had 61 seats, and Netanyahu wanted a larger majority. Instead, in September, the Right got only 55 seats without Liberman. A third election could mean the continuation of the trend and even fewer seats for a potential right-wing government.
But Netanyahu is a different story. If there is a third election, Netanyahu is guaranteed to remain prime minister at least until April, maybe even until May if those coalition talks drag on like the last two. With an indictment likely to take place, staying prime minister will only be an advantage for him. For example, as prime minister, his case will be seen by three judges in the Jerusalem District Court, as opposed to one judge in a magistrate’s court.
THAT’S THE political analysis. But sometimes with all of these looks at the political pros and cons, we miss the bigger picture. A third election is not only good or bad for the Right or Left or Blue and White or Likud or Netanyahu. There’s an entire country being held hostage by our politicians’ inability to compromise.
People’s lives are at stake. With ever-growing challenges and instability in the Middle East, the security budget is basically frozen and the can’t plan for the future. The health basket committee cannot determine which medicines will be included in our socialized health system. Shelters for battered women and at-risk youth have had to shut down.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration at the moment, with the politicians deciding whether to compromise or drag us into another five or more months with an interim government.


Tags Yair Lapid