Israel left in limbo as political deadlock left unresolved - analysis

None of the sides reached an agreement on how to share power and form a government in initial talks.

Israel Elections: A polling station in Jerusalem, as Israelis vote in their general elections, on March 23, 2021. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Israel Elections: A polling station in Jerusalem, as Israelis vote in their general elections, on March 23, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
President Reuven Rivlin earned universal praise for making the process completely transparent of presidential consultations with the factions ahead of his appointment of a candidate to form a government.
The decision to broadcast the consultations on Facebook gave the public a bird’s-eye view to see the talks between the president and the politicians.
But it has unfortunately also encouraged the political stalemate to go on and on – and on and on – through four elections.
When the public is watching, and there is a strong possibility that yet another election will be held, the politicians are unlikely to compromise and violate their campaign promises, which have made forming a government so difficult.
Rivlin tried asking the party representatives for their second choice if their first choice proved impossible. But there was no chance of getting honest responses when the cameras were rolling.
The best example was Rivlin’s short meeting with Yamina representatives Ayelet Shaked and Matan Kahana. They spent more time in their cars at the President’s Residence than they did with Rivlin. The ceremonies director for the president had to beg Shaked to leave her car and come inside.
Presumably, she was on the phone in the car with Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, hearing updates on the progress in coalition talks with Yesh Atid that happened all day Monday. But she could not reveal this to Rivlin, because it was too soon for the public to find out.
Representatives of New Hope, who had been mediating between Yamina and Yesh Atid, were left hopelessly begging Rivlin for more time after a six-hour faction meeting in which they could not figure out how to handle the situation.
Yamina officials told The Jerusalem Post two months ago that their strategy was to receive the second mandate from Rivlin to form a government only after Netanyahu received the first mandate and failed. Not only has that strategy not changed, it has been endorsed by the leader of the largest party in the anti-Netanyahu bloc, Yair Lapid.
According to the deal in the works, Bennett will become prime minister for the first two years, even though Lapid won 10 more seats than he did in the election. Lapid would serve out the remainder of the term that is set to end in November 2025. That timing was the easy part of the agreement.
The hard part is how to handle policy and portfolios with a wide range of parties that do not see eye to eye on key issues. Bennett wants right-wing parties to control key ideological portfolios, such as Justice, Education and Culture, but Lapid has to bring assets to the parties in his bloc, too.
If Rivlin will give Netanyahu the mandate for 28 days, that would give Bennett and Lapid plenty of time to close the deal. But it also gives time for Netanyahu to do his own political maneuvering, which is his expertise.
Maybe he will find a way to get the Religious Zionist Party to join a coalition backed by Ra’am (United Arab List) despite so many firm statements by its leader, Bezalel Smotrich, ruling it out.
Or perhaps Netanyahu can find the formula to persuade Bennett to make a deal with him instead. Such a deal could guarantee Bennett the leadership of the Likud and the Right for years to come.
Meanwhile, the political crisis will remain unresolved.
We will all have to just continue to be patient, lingering in limbo.