Netanyahu's corona scare proves political saga was too long - analysis

Britain's PM has the virus, but at least he also has a government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a speech at his Jerusalem office, regarding the new measures that will be taken to fight the coronavirus, March 14, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/GALI TIBBON/POOL)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a speech at his Jerusalem office, regarding the new measures that will be taken to fight the coronavirus, March 14, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/GALI TIBBON/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s parliamentary adviser Rivka Paluch, who tested positive for the coronavirus, said reports about her possibly passing it on to her boss are very unlikely to be found true.

She said she feels great and that while she did go to the Knesset on Thursday, she did not have any real contact with Netanyahu. 

But even though it is unlikely that Netanyahu will follow his friend British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in getting the virus, the very fact that this has been talked about as a real possibility just shows that the country’s political saga has gone on for way too long.

Imagine if after more than 16 months of political turmoil, Netanyahu finally had a government in hand, but he could not come to the swearing-in ceremony, because he had to be isolated in his own home.

This just goes to show the absurdity of this political drama that has gone on for so long that it has gotten grotesque in the eyes of much of the population that cares much more about whether they will have a job than who will fill the various ministerial roles within the government.

Who cares who your strategic affairs minister will be when you are just strategizing how to get your groceries without being infected? How long does it take to decide who will get the currently embarrassing titles of foreign minister, tourism minister, etc?

While there is no going back now on the deal that was negotiated for eight hours overnight, there still are challenging hurdles. Paluch of course has to be quarantined, so Netanyahu does not have a parliamentary adviser who can come to the Knesset on a crucial week in Israeli politics.

Even if a deal is finalized, a government cannot be sworn in until crucial legislation is passed, particularly until there are guarantees about the transition between Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz in the Prime Minister’s Office and the newly bolstered Vice Prime Minister’s Office.

The opposition, led by Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid, has now been unshackled from its bond with Gantz and cannot wait to do what a biting opposition is supposed to do.

There are the ministers inside Netanyahu’s own Likud who will have to give up their cherished portfolios, because there are not enough of them to go around. Netanyahu can try sending some of them to foreign capitals as ambassadors, but that isn’t much of a consolation prize these days.

And there are the headlines about the millions of shekels that will be wasted on adding unnecessary ministers to the cabinet, with unnecessary aides, salaries and cars. That may cost a fraction of the price of a fourth election when tens of thousands are quarantined, but it still doesn’t look pretty.

So as awful as it is for the British people that their prime minister has the virus, at least he has a government. They are lucky that they finished their long-standing political crisis in December, before their health crisis began.

We could have done the same if politicians had compromised then, as they have now. So thankfully, we won’t be going to the polls again, but if there is a consensus on anything now, it is that Israel’s political crisis is over the top, when it should simply be over.