Analysis: As Israeli elections history has shown, it ain’t over till it’s over

A reflection on the 2012 coalition crisis and today's situation in Knesset.

Haredi women vote in the 2013 elections. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Haredi women vote in the 2013 elections.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On the night between May 7 and May 8, 2012, 118 Knesset members prepared to vote on the final reading of a Knesset dispersal bill that would have initiated elections on September 4 of that year.
But there were two MKs who were conspicuously absent from the Knesset building: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz. At 2 a.m. that night, at the Prime Minister’s Residence 2.7 km. away, the leaders of the Knesset’s two largest parties drafted a deal that created a massive coalition of more than 80 MKs.
Other readings of the Knesset dispersal bill had already passed by a vote of 109-1. Leading figures in Kadima such as Dalia Itzik had just given interviews bashing Netanyahu that, in retrospect, were embarrassing because Mofaz had left them in the dark.
It is important to remember what happened that night as developments continue to happen around the clock on the way to either the initiation of a June 26 election or a new agreement among parties in Netanyahu’s current coalition that could give his government a new lease on life.
It is also important to remember how that coalition deal turned out: It only lasted a few months, and elections ended up happening on January 22, 2013.
Why did such a large government that could not be toppled by any party break up? Netanyahu did not want to give in on the issue of drafting yeshiva students.
All that must be kept in mind as efforts to prevent elections once again will keep the midnight oil burning at Netanyahu’s office.
Elections still appeared likely late Sunday, because Netanyahu has been advised that proving he has the support of the people could send a key message to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit ahead of his decision on whether to indict him.
But most of the parties in his coalition have sent a message to Netanyahu that they do not want elections now. The message that might have hit Netanyahu the clearest was that coalition parties could oppose the June date he wants for elections, following positive headlines from celebrations of Israel’s 70th birthday in April and May.
Added to that, Zionist Union MKs could oppose advancing the election because they do not want to lose their jobs, and the Supreme Court could prevent June elections that come right after Ramadan, and suddenly Netanyahu’s plans – if he did really have plans – for June elections were not going as smoothly as expected.
As legendary New York Yankees manager Yogi Berra said during the 1973 pennant race: “It ain’t over till it’s over.”