Analysis: Elections as political valium

Elections help our politicians relax and start getting things done like the tackling the issue over drafting yeshiva students.

May 27, 2013 03:19
2 minute read.

Sea of haredim 390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Last July, Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz announced that he was leaving Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government, some 70 days after he joined it, to protest the PM’s failure to advance Kadima’s plan for drafting yeshiva students.

In a move that expedited the election, Mofaz accused Netanyahu of siding with the haredim over the tax-paying, working, army-serving middle class, who later carried Yair Lapid to 19 seats and left Kadima with only two.

“Netanyahu has chosen to side with the draftdodgers,” Mofaz emphatically told the press at the time. “I have reached an understanding that the prime minister has not left us a choice, and so we have responded.”

Fast forward 10 months.

The parties in Netanyahu’s coalition are still bickering over how to draft yeshiva students.

There was a marathon meeting Sunday night of the Peri Committee, which is the successor of the Kadima- led Plesner Committee, which tried to fix the mess left by the Tal Committee a decade earlier.

The Peri Committee ministers fought over very divisive issues like how to compel Arabs to do national service, how to punish haredi draft-evaders and what impact expanded haredi service should have on the hesder yeshivas of the national-religious sector.

Fights on such issues could potentially be explosive enough to cause a serious coalition crisis. They could at certain times, but now is not one of them.

Why? Because politics is not real estate. The keys are not location, location, location, but timing, timing, timing.

An issue that could be the cause of a nasty political battle at the end of a government’s term that occurs at the beginning of a term is a mere challenging predicament that can be resolved with enough talking and compromises.

Just listen to the ministers on the Peri Committee argue apologetically: “There is no intention to create a crisis,” Yisrael Beytenu’s Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Israel Radio. “We will honor the coalition agreement. We are responsible members of the government and we will remain in the government.

This has to be solved, but in my eyes it is not a crisis.”

“I don’t have an interest in creating conflicts,” Bayit Yehudi’s Uri Ariel told Army Radio. “It is better to reach solutions.”

Hearing how pleasantly the ministers debate such divisive issues, it is easier to understand how they will pass an unpalatable state budget and even let a diplomatic process with the Palestinians begin again.

Ever wonder why Israel has so many elections? There are many reasons. But the debate over drafting yeshiva students reveals an interesting one.

Elections help our politicians relax and start getting things done.

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