Ideological compromises

Larger parties mean less votes that go to waste for parties that do not cross the 3.25% threshold – Zehut and the New Right are two examples from the last election.

July 28, 2019 22:07
3 minute read.
Israel Democratic Party Ehud Barak, MK Stav Shaffir and Meretz Nitzan Horowitz of Democratic Camp

Israel Democratic Party's Ehud Barak, MK Stav Shaffir and Meretz's Nitzan Horowitz of the Democratic Camp. (photo credit: SPOKESPERSON FOR THE DEMOCRATIC CAMP)

Larger parties should always be a preference for the Israeli voter. The results of the last election in April proved this need after the coalition Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to form – with right-wing and haredi parties – failed to come together. 
This was mostly because each party held the keys to Netanyahu’s coalition and was able to make exorbitant demands until it was impossible to make a deal and establish a government. 
For that reason and putting ideology aside, we commend former prime minister Ehud Barak, Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz and Labor Party MK Stav Shaffir for establishing a left-wing bloc called the Democratic Union. You don’t have to agree with the trio’s politics to recognize the value in establishing a bloc and the difficult task of putting politics and ego aside. 
Larger parties mean less votes that go to waste for parties that do not cross the 3.25% threshold – Zehut and the New Right are two examples from the last election – and potentially create more stability in a coalition. In the last government, for example, there were six parties, several of which had the ability at any point to bring down the government if a decision was taken against their interests. 
This is not the way to govern. For any government to continue to work for the people, it needs stability and it needs to be able to make decisions, enact reforms and pass legislation that can advance the country. When a prime minister needs to constantly balance a government between competing ideologies and interests, this task becomes all the more difficult. 
With the Left aligned in a bloc, now is the turn of the right-wing parties – New Right, Bayit Yehudi and National Union – to also come together into a single party. The problem in this case is that such a party would see a severe clash of ideologies. 
In the Democratic Union, for example, the ideological differences between Barak, Horowitz and Shaffir are not great. While Barak might be more of a capitalist than Shaffir and Horowitz – both known social democrats – their opinions, for example, on the Palestinian conflict, a two-state solution as well as the need to ensure the continued independence of the Supreme Court are mostly aligned. 
The same cannot be said on the other side of the political map. New Right leader Ayelet Shaked does not share the same opinions as Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz or National Union head Bezalel Smotrich when it comes to LGBT rights. Shaked, a secular Israeli from Tel Aviv, disagrees with Peretz’s call for conversion therapy as well as Smotrich’s declaration that he is a “proud homophobe.”
More recently, Smotrich said that he wants a halachic state, in which Israel is governed in accordance with Torah law.
Naftali Bennett, now Shaked’s number two, is, like Peretz and Smotrich, against the establishment of a Palestinian state. But, his plan for the conflict calls for granting Israeli citizenship to Palestinians who live in territory that he would like to annex in the West Bank. This is Area C, the part where all of the Israeli settlements are located, but not Areas B and A, which is where 99% of the Palestinians live. 
Peretz, on the other hand, is against granting any Palestinian citizenship. When challenged in a recent interview that his plan of annexing land without granting citizenship would be the de facto creation of an apartheid state, his answer was that Israel exists in a “very complex reality.” Israel, he said, would care for all the needs of the Palestinian non-citizens, but they would not be allowed to participate in the political process. 
These are significant differences between the three parties. Shaked and Bennett announced their return to politics with the declared objective of representing a different Judaism, one that is liberal, open minded and right-wing. 
We understand that politics is a system of limitations and opportunities, but on some issues – LGBT rights, a halachic state and apartheid – it is difficult to make compromises. 
By aligning their parties, Shaked, Bennett, Peretz and Smotrich are preventing a potential loss of votes, but they are also clouding ideologies and beliefs. If a union is created, the public will need to know what it really stands for. 

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