New unity government ends 17 months of political stalemate at last
We supported establishing a unity government and still believe that a stable government is what Israel needs. Governments are never perfect but they also should not purposely waste money.
By JPOST EDITORIAL
An agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz has paved the way for a government after an unprecedented three elections and a year of instability in which budgets were not passed and Israelis suffered.The agreement comes amid a pandemic in which more than one million Israelis are now out of work. The agreement also leaves much to be desired. It is cumbersome and controversial and likely paves the way for endless political jockeying that will serve the interests of a few politicians but leave Israeli citizens abandoned again.Israelis should be happy that the 17 months of political stalemate are coming to an end and that finally, it seems, there will be a stable and functioning government in Jerusalem.Nevertheless, this optimism is tempered. To function properly, this new government needs to act quickly to fix the economy and make clear the guidelines for dealing with the continued pandemic. It also must deal with security challenges stemming from Iran and from Hezbollah in Lebanon.The government is a behemoth in size. Despite previous eras when Likud and its allies actually sought to have fewer ministers, now there will be an estimated 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers.This is basically a way for the parties to divide up the spoils so all their loyal lieutenants get a piece of the cake. For the vast majority of Israelis, wage stagnation, poverty, negative bank account balances and unaffordable housing are what awaits.Despite the claims of Netanyahu that he cares for the average falafel stand owner, the reality of the political class in Israel was revealed during the lockdowns when the prime minister, the president and other government officials disobeyed their own guidelines, enjoying time with their families while regular citizens were locked at home unable to travel.AdvertisementThe more harsh the guidelines for us, the more those in government seemed to flout them.The plethora of ministers will mean new faces in the Knesset as more members of the coalition get to fill out the seats left behind by the minister, according to a draft of the new “Norwegian Law” the Knesset plans to pass.What these new members and ministers will have to confront in coming months is a Herculean task made more difficult by Netanyahu’s attempt to avoid standing trial for his three criminal indictments.Under the coalition agreement, Netanyahu will be able to veto the new attorney-general, the state’s attorney and the police inspector-general. That gives him a hold over the legal aspects of the state. Unlike in other democracies which have one official residence, Israel will now have two official residences for Netanyahu and Gantz over the next three years.One of them will live in the official Prime Minister’s Residence while serving as prime minister and the other in a new one while serving as deputy. This means paying twice for expenses, providing security, cars and staff.Simply put, this means more expense for the state and the taxpayers at a time when many people are slipping below the poverty line and more than a million Israelis are still out of work due to the pandemic.It is hard to shake the feeling when reading the agreement between Blue and White and Likud that it is about keeping Netanyahu and Gantz comfortable and in power more than it is about anything else. Israel’s democracy was harmed by the mockery the leading politicians have shown for it over the past 17 months that saw endless mudslinging, three election campaigns and the failure to pass a state budget.We supported establishing a unity government and still believe that a stable government is what Israel needs. Governments are never perfect but they also should not purposely waste money.The new government's most important job is to work to get the economy up and running again, and to make sure that as many people as possible are back at work. Worrying about jobs for political cronies and additional official residences is not just wrong, it is a waste of money that Israel does not have.
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