The bewilderment felt by most Israelis over what has become of Israeli politics over the past year is unlikely to ease after what seems to be inevitable third elections are called on Wednesday night. If anything, this sense of confusion is only likely to grow as a fourth consecutive general election already looms on the horizon, somewhere in early September 2020.
All polls and the vast majority of political assessments indicate that the March 2 elections are unlikely to resolve the political logjam Israel has found itself in. The parties’ leaders and their supporters can play all the blame games they want—it won’t really change the fact that in three months’ time we will find ourselves at exactly the same point, listening to the same accusations and futile arguments as we head to the polls—again.
Let’s be honest: The political stalemate crippling Israel is everyone’s fault. But while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz had a hand in it, as have front- and backstage political actors, it is the Israeli public that is footing the bill.
But the simple truth is that we have gotten to this point thanks largely to the self-serving agenda of one man: Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. And if the polls are right, he will hold the keys to a potential fourth election as well.
Anyone who enjoys going to the polls every few months while the country comes to a grinding halt should, by all means, vote for Yisrael Beiteinu. But if political limbo is not your cup of tea, then you should cast a different ballot.
Regardless of one’s political views, platform or policy, a vote for Lieberman is a vote for a fourth election. In two election campaigns, Lieberman did not lend his support to any party that could form a coalition. His presence on the political scene prevents both the right-wing and left-wing blocs from securing the 61 Knesset seats necessary to form a government, and in fact, since April’s elections, he has become a one-man political stumbling block.
One can like him personally, connect with his politics and applaud his zigzags, but at the same time, one has to know that voting for him is voting for the continued political void and an eternal transitional government whose term doesn’t end—and probably won’t end as long as he has the same type of power.
September’s elections saw the right six seats and the left four seats short of a viable coalition. If the next election sees every right-wing voter and every left-wing voter cast their ballots for the bigger parties in their respective blocs, then we will finally have decisive results. One of the blocs will secure 61 seats and form a government.
But if Lieberman is again allowed to corner precious mandates, thus allowing him to keep the fate of the government in his hands, then we are sure to repeat the process time and again.
Lieberman has clearly stated that he will not join a Netanyahu-led government due to the presence of the ultra-Orthodox parties, nor will he team with Gantz due to the Joint Arab List’s support. It is also obvious, given the past few weeks, that he has no power to force the formation of a national unity government. In other words, Lieberman cannot be a solution to anything—if anything, he is the problem.
Mati Tuchfeld writes for Israel Hayom.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.