Going poof in the parking lot: The ambush that led to elections

It was taken into account that Blue and White MKs Asaf Zamir and Miki Haimovich would vote against the bill. But Ram Shefa, who was quarantined, surprised when he came in to vote.

Lawmakers are seen in the Knesset plenum during the preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset on December 2, 2020.. (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/DANI SHEM TOV)
Lawmakers are seen in the Knesset plenum during the preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset on December 2, 2020..
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/DANI SHEM TOV)
In April 1990, when Shimon Peres tried to form a government, two MKs he was counting on went into hiding.
Legend has it that Ariel Sharon of Likud hid Avraham Werdiger and Eliezer Mizrahi of the Agudat Yisrael Party in an orchard in the Lachish region. Mizrahi later said there was no orchard, but there was a firm order from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, to absent himself from the vote and prevent the formation of a government that the Rebbe believed would endanger Israel by withdrawing from land.
These days, when there are cellphones, it is harder to hide.
But Likud MK Michal Shir and Blue and White MK Ram Shefa decided not to go as far as Lachish. Their orchard on Monday night was the Knesset parking lot, where they both waited to cast their votes and bring down both the government and the coalition their parties led.
Sources close to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said the two leaders wanted to postpone the election and enable the current government to function. Had they had one more day ahead of Tuesday night’s deadline, it is possible that they could have finalized an agreement that would have kept their government together for months or perhaps even years.
Gantz wanted his MKs to absent themselves from the vote and put pressure on Netanyahu to give in on the final day before the deadline, knowing that the prime minister only makes concessions when his back is against the wall.
It was taken into account that Blue and White MKs Asaf Zamir and Miki Haimovich would vote against the bill. But Shefa, who was quarantined, surprised people when he came in to vote.
Shir told her Knesset colleagues she was sick, so she was not expected to come to the Knesset. She came in a car that was not hers and waited in the little-used “floor -1” in the Knesset parking lot.
Both Shefa and Shir are among the final MKs whose names are called in a roll-call vote, because their names are at the end of the Hebrew alphabet. After Shir voted, outspoken Likud MK Osnat Mark called Shir a “chutzpadik b****.”
Shir will quit the Knesset on Tuesday afternoon and run in the election with former Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party. Sa’ar, who also outmaneuvered Netanyahu in getting Reuven Rivlin elected president, timed Shir’s shift perfectly to bring Netanyahu down.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid will also receive credit for ending the government of Netanyahu – and perhaps the political career of his former political partner-turned-nemesis Gantz.
Gantz faced pressure from all sides on Monday. Some MKs in his faction meeting told him Netanyahu was tricking him again, and he would go back on his word between the passings of two state budgets. Others urged him to continue negotiations with Likud and complete two months of efforts to get Netanyahu to give him the rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office that was part of their agreement.
Seven years after what became known as the “stinking maneuver,” Peres asked activists of his Labor Party the rhetorical question of whether he was a loser.
After being similarly victimized, Gantz need not ask such a question.
It is obvious to all that, although this time there was no orchard, Gantz’s efforts did not bear fruit.


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