Shame on the MKs who defected to join Netanyahu's government

MKs who turned their backs on their parties to join Netanyahu's bloated government have abandoned their values.

Prime Minister Benjamn Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the swearing in of the new government (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamn Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the swearing in of the new government
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Most of the Israeli public and media have expressed their disappointment and disgust at the large number of ministers that have been appointed to Israel’s new government, and rightly so. A government with 34 and possibly 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers is not just a wasteful, inflated government lacking any content. It is a public, national and international demonstration of contempt for what a government should be and do.
In essence, what Netanyahu wants to tell the Israeli public, and to a large extent also the international public, is that there’s no need for a government; that it’s an executive body designed to be responsible for the efficient regulation of the various areas of life and public institutions and the regulation of citizens’ proclivity for services the government is expected to provide.
From his point of view, cabinet meetings could be a public assembly, a public conference, an election meeting or a symposium. At the end of the day, what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu truly believes is that a government is just a plastic vessel that contains one leader, which is him alone, and that no one else is truly important or has any importance when it comes to making decisions concerning the lives of Israeli citizens, with which the government is supposed to be entrusted.
The inflated number of ministers, therefore, is a testament to waste (and there is outrageous waste here), and also to the contempt of the status of the government and its members. It’s true, apparently, that this is a parity government, and there is another alternate prime minister who was sworn in and has pledged his allegiance to the state, and who intends to keep several offices that will enable him to properly perform his duties.
He will sit in the defense minister’s office in Tel Aviv, he will set up his office as the “stand-in prime minister,” and it’s possible that he will also create another office for the “alternate prime minister,” too. Of course, each office will be equipped with assistants, consultants, secretaries and bodyguards.
The housing issue was also settled, and of course the security detail for the alternate prime minister’s family and his wife, and his private and public residences, etc. The prime minister’s privileges do not need to be arranged, since they are already in place.
From my brief and superficial acquaintance with Benny and Mrs. Gantz, I am convinced that there’s no chance his family will take advantage of the special rights granted to the alternate prime minister with respect to housing and security.
From what I’ve been told, Gantz’s children are normal people who are working, studying and living their lives like most of our children do. This privilege was created so that when, contrary to expectations, the royal family from Balfour Street must leave their current residence and settle in another home that is luxurious, modern, newly renovated and well-equipped, with a clean and operational kitchen, the family members will be able to take advantage of all the privileges that were offered to the alternate prime minister’s family, even if the Gantz family didn’t act that way. We must not become confused; all these privileges were meant only for one family, and only that one.
And yet, even after saying all of this, still, the size of the government is not the worst thing that took place during this bizarre event in the Knesset. The structure and the division of power of all the various offices ensure almost certainly that the government will not be able to function as an executive body. We are likely to encounter almost daily glitches in the operation of the daily public agenda, which requires attention, regulation, decisions and follow-up. That is the ongoing role of governmental bureaucracy.
TAKE, FOR EXAMPLE, water resource management. Apparently, we now have a minister of water resources. Water is a very central subject. Granted, since the country built desalination plants, mostly with funding from private entrepreneurs, Israel’s water shortage has ceased to be a national problem that is intrinsically dependent on the amount of rainfall that flows into the Kinneret.
It’s wonderful that the Kinneret is fuller now than it has been for many years. It’s amazing to see the water flowing toward the Kinneret in the many streams covering northern Israel. It’s a heartwarming sight.
However, with an output of 750 million cubic meters of desalinated water, the State of Israel is no longer dependent on the amount of precipitation. If we desire, we can build additional desalination plants, and perhaps we can use these technological capabilities to solve our Palestinian neighbors’ water problem, too. This can certainly be a significant contribution to the pattern of cooperation within the framework of a peace negotiation process, if we want to engage in one, of course.
At this stage, the new government does not yet know – or would rather not know – if it intends to stoop so low as to carry out the unilateral annexation of territories, or conduct serious and genuine negotiations that could conclude with a peace agreement.
However, the new minister of water resources, Ze’ev Elkin, will soon discover that the office called the Water Ministry does not actually have the authority to accomplish anything in the water sector as long as the areas of responsibility with respect to water resources haven’t been defined yet by headquarters. How is the responsibility divided between the various ministries that deal with water-related issues, including the Agriculture, Energy, Interior and Housing ministries and the many other government bodies, each of which already has statutory powers in water matters.
Until headquarters finishes its work, if it ever does, until the division of powers between the various government bodies is carried out, until it’s decided who does what, in my opinion, this government will no longer be in power.
This is true regarding the Water Ministry, and the same can be said about the Education Ministry and the new Higher Education Ministry, the Welfare Ministry and the Ministry of Social Equality, the Finance Ministry and the Ministry for Community Strengthening and Promotion.
Each one of these new offices has a title that’s hiding a huge hollow space in the sphere of powers it has been assigned. Arranging the proper division of powers and coordination between the offices, precisely defining their responsibilities and budgeting funds; all of these bureaucratic mechanics will take a long time, perhaps even longer than the life of the government that was sworn in this week.
Even if the ministers who are affected by this are a bit concerned (and I’m not sure at all that they are), I am convinced that the prime minister is not really bothered by the governing and social chaos in the cumbersome structure of this new government. Netanyahu sought a cynical, irresponsible, fake solution that creates a temporary envelope that will let him continue to reign. At the same time he can take advantage of the various ministries in order to abuse the gatekeepers and the law enforcement representatives, as he tries to sabotage the case against him, which was supposed to begin just a few days from now.
It’s not surprising that Netanyahu already announced to the public that he is requesting that he not be required to show up at the courthouse and be present when the indictment against him is read. There’s no need for Netanyahu to go to the trial because he is busy. At the next stage, Netanyahu will demand that the trial be canceled because he is busy. And afterward, who knows? Maybe he’ll request that one of his chamberlains fire the judges since he is absent in any case, and perhaps by postponing his trial, they’ll remain unemployed.
AFTER SAYING all of these things, I still have not touched on the abscess that threatens to drown this government in the depths of moral stench that is unprecedented in Israel’s political history. Since the early days of the state, one term has taken root in our political lexicon: Kalanterism. Kalanerism is named after Rahamim Kalanter, who was a member of the Jerusalem Municipality from Hapoel Mizrachi Party, and who agreed in 1956 to abandon his party and join then-mayor Gershon Agron, and who opened the first mixed swimming pool in the German Colony, and was appointed deputy mayor. Since then, the name Kalanter has been synonymous with the concept of political betrayal.
Over the years, this form of betrayal (moving from one party to another) has become a familiar and common phenomenon, and it hasn’t led to too much excitement recently – until last year. The frequent jumping from one party to another and the lies, the overt public political bribery that accompanied them, and the compensation which is an integral part of these events, have become the norm. The current government is built on falsehoods, cheating, treachery and the granting of favors to those who engage in these acts.
Take, for example, Minister Rafi Peretz. I met Rabbi Peretz when he was the head of a pre-army program in southern Israel, and again when he was the chief rabbi of the IDF. His entry into politics was an example of a different type of behavior, with good values and national responsibility.
His political ideology is not the same as mine. However, I was impressed by his judicious speech, his good-natured character and the spirit of unity with which he tried to inspire the nationalist camp to which he belonged. It turns out, however, that he has little of any of these qualities.
First of all, as education minister, he made rude and foolish comments about the LGBT community, when he called homosexuality a mental illness. A person needs to be pretty radical conservative and narrow-minded to define the LGBT community in this fashion. When an education minister does so, he disqualifies himself from being eligible to hold such a sensitive and charged position.
And yet, Rabbi Rafi did not stop there. A few months later, he managed to breach every commitment he’d made with political partners. At first, he joined Bayit Yehudi, and then later on signed an agreement with Itamar Ben-Gvir, and wouldn’t stop proclaiming his true partnership with the racist from the Otzma Yehudit Party.
Just a few weeks later, Rabbi Peretz left Ben-Gvir and joined Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, and after one more week, he absconded from them too, cutting his ties with Yamina in order to begin his appointment as a minister in the new government.
AND WHAT can we say about Orly Levy-Abecassis and her fake pathos, self-righteousness and eye-rolling? How much shallowness and oversized ego does one need to explain her marriage to the Labor Party and afterward to Meretz, and then her divorce from both of them followed by her return to the Likud?
She began her career as a member of the Likud, continued next with Yisrael Beytenu, then reached an agreement with Labor and later with Meretz. After all this, she fled in order to become a minister in Netanyahu’s government, which she swore she’d never do.
And I haven’t gotten to Hansel and Gretel yet – excuse me, Hendel and Hauser. Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser built their political career on deception and deceit.
I can understand that they refused to support a government that relies on support (even if it was expected to be a one-time event) from the Joint List. Although the stance of these noble souls, who pretend that they belong to the enlightened right-wing camp, is the traditional position of the racist Right with respect to their relationship with representatives of Israeli Arabs in the Knesset who are denied the privilege to be part of any coalition which I completely disagree with.
However, the joining of Hendel and Hauser to Netanyahu’s government, fleeing from Bogie Ya’alon, and denying everything they’d committed to doing, especially in relation to Netanyahu, is horrifying. Hendel and Hauser know how to express themselves eloquently, and there has been considerable sympathy for them in the media since they speak so charmingly, and are so eloquent and nice. But what can we do? The two of them are the epitome of deceit, treachery and untrustworthiness. 
Everyone who followed Bogie agreed to join the Blue and White list and pledged to not sit with fugitive offender (my terminology, not theirs). But eventually they ended up crawling in search of a ministerial appointment, or to be included in the coveted Judicial Selection Committee.
This is exactly what Alex Goldfarb did, when in exchange for a Mitsubishi and a deputy ministerial position, he broke the trust which his party had given him and moved over to the Labor Party. This might have happened 25 years ago, but his treachery continues to ooze with its unpleasant stench. Now Hendel and Hauser have also been added to this category, with lots of pretense, self-righteous eye-rolling and fake smiles behind which lie no honesty and decency.
Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli made the greatest mistake of their lives when they linked their future with Orly Levy-Abecassis and deviated from the Labor Party’s traditional path. And joining forces with Meretz was superfluous. It was, however, Peretz’s choice and his decision. By joining Bibi, Peretz deviated from everything that he purported to represent, even as Shmuli tried to create the impression that he believed in him.
If this had only been a personal act, he could have regretted his action. But Peretz, with his own two hands, led to the destruction of one of Israel’s historic parties. I never personally voted for Labor, but it played a crucial role in the establishment of the State of Israel and in maintaining its continued existence.
To think that the leader of the Labor Party is the gofer for the government that is made up by people like Amir Ohana and David Bitan is chilling. 
And then, of course, there are Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi. What else can be said? The day that Gantz and Ashkenazi will be ashamed for what they’ve done is closer than they think. They missed an opportunity to fight for a decent, honest and democratic Israel. Instead, they were tempted to go down a winding road that is certain to end with bitter disappointment for them and for the entire State of Israel.

The writer was the 12th prime minister of Israel.