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The price of the Israeli government’s survival

A floundering, divided leadership opens the door to all sorts of pressures, but as usual, every failure is marketed as a success.

(L-R) Israeli minister of Defense Benny Gantz, minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister of Justice Gideon Saar during a discussion on the "family reunification law", during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on July 6, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
(L-R) Israeli minister of Defense Benny Gantz, minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister of Justice Gideon Saar during a discussion on the "family reunification law", during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on July 6, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Amnon Lord (Israel Hayom)
Amnon Lord
Amnon Lord is an Israeli journalist with the daily newspaper “Makor Rishon.” His articles and essays about media, film and politics have been published in “The Jerusalem Post,” “Mida,” “Azure,” “Nativ” and “Achshav.”

In many ways, Israel is nearing the end of the line when it comes to functional leadership. Before our very eyes, spokespeople of the left are explicitly saying that they prefer a government that is incapable of passing a single law or making a single decision as long as it prevents the worst thing of all. And what is the worst thing of all? A right-wing government. “We won’t give Netanyahu a prize,” New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar is saying.

A non-functioning government is a government that can’t fight inflation or formulate a security policy. Usually, the person in charge is a political leader who won the support of the people to a certain extent, but the person in charge today became prime minister through political extortion. As correspondent Amit Segal writes in his book The Story of Israeli Politics, “The Israeli system has had difficulty translating the will of the people into a functioning government, but the precedent Bennett set—a small faction that takes control through political maneuvering—threatens to completely sever the connection between the will of the people and the identity of the prime minister.”

Ultimately, the lack of a Knesset majority and the inability to pass laws and govern aren’t enough to change this government or bring it down. Every time an existential threat to the regime has arisen, some quick fix has been found—one that plugged the hole but created others. Everyone is familiar with the short-lived direct elections for prime minister in the 1990s. In response, the Israeli people split into parliamentary amoebas. Due to the ease with which governments could be toppled through a vote of no confidence, a law was passed requiring that no-confidence votes be “constructive”—in other words, that a replacement government is possible. At the moment, that isn’t the case. So, the fall still hasn’t happened. Of course, there is still the option of dissolving the Knesset and holding elections.

What we have now is an insufferable discrepancy between public opinion and the government, which has lost the majority. The sense in the opposition, when the government tries to enlist it to support Gideon Sa’ar’s bill to extend Israeli jurisdiction over Judea and Samaria, is that they’re being mugged to the tune of “Hatikvah.” And every failure is always marketed as a success.

As Knesset failures mount, the price of survival gets steeper. We must not dismiss the things that are becoming routine on the Knesset plenum after every “fateful” vote. Following each one, which is near-daily, a confrontation breaks out, and they are getting closer to actual physical violence. Generally, they are between Jewish and Arab MKs.

A crumbling, divided leadership opens the door to all sorts of pressures. The coalition has been hostile toward the opposition and completely failed to expand. Are the coalition leaders working on behalf of Bibi too?

Amnon Lord is a veteran journalist, film critic, writer and editor.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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