MORE CHAOS IN ISRAEL

BLOG 470
Mat 4, 2020

middleast

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

MORE CHAOS IN ISRAEL

Just about the time you thought Israeli politics was settling down, BINGO! There’s a new problem. After Benny Gatz make a major concession for the sake of the country, an under the table move threatened to blow the reconciliation apart. Here’s the latest.

In a bombshell move that threatens to block his former ally Benny Gantz from becoming Israel’s prime minister, Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid on Monday promised his party would vote with Benjamin Netanyahu if the prime minister seeks to cancel his rotation agreement with Benny Gantz, which is supposed to take effect 18 months into the lifespan of the planned Netanyahu-Gantz coalition. Lapid would thus help ensure the necessary majority to cancel the law anchoring the Netanyahu-Gantz power-sharing deal, and bring down the government.

Lapid’s extraordinary promise drew a furious response from Gantz’s Blue and White party, and an allegation from Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman that, in so doing, Lapid would be saving Netanyahu’s political skin. Lapid responded that it was Gantz who is saving Netanyahu by partnering with him in the new coalition, and that if, down the line, “we have an opportunity to topple the government, of course we will do so.”

Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, entered politics early last year and formed an alliance with Lapid and former Likud defense minister Moshe Ya’alon. Their Blue and White party fought three elections on a promise never to sit in government with Netanyahu so long as he is facing corruption allegations, branding him divisive, corrupt and dangerous to Israel. Citing the current corona-virus pandemic and the need for government stability, Gantz changed his position and agreed to work with Netanyahu.

To prevent Netanyahu from later overturning the legislation with a regular majority of 61 in the 120-member parliament — which he could feasibly achieve — the bill stipulates that canceling it would require a special majority of 75 lawmakers. Such a significant change to the Basic Law, weakening the power of the Knesset’s basic majority, has been criticized in some quarters as detrimental to democracy. It was in that context that Lapid dropped his Gantz-blocking bombshell Monday.

Where does Israel and the Knesset go next? It’s possible to declare Yair Lapid’s assertion is sour grapes and should be rejected outright. Unfortunately, Israeli politics is not so simple or straight forward.

Stay tuned! More to come.

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Filed under Elections, Israel, The Middle East

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