Israel is on the cusp of going to the third round of elections in less than a year as the midnight deadline for Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form a coalition comes to a conclusion with no agreement in the wings on a unity government.
Knesset members will have 21 days to appoint another Knesset member who could possibly form a government. If that fails, the nation will go to elections for the third in less than a year, which is the widely expected outcome according to political commentators across Israeli media.
Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, had promised to throw his support behind a unity government if Prime Minister Netanyahu, head of Likud, and Gantz could decide on a power sharing agreement. Since they could not come to terms, he announced he could not support either party.
“We won’t join either a narrow majority government or a minority government,” he said at a press conference. “Whatever sort of government it is, it won’t survive.”
“One refused to accept President Reuven Rivlin’s compromise, the other refused to give up his right-wing, messianic* bloc,” Lieberman continued, referring to Gantz and Netanyahu respectively.
Lieberman had been seen as the king maker in this election as his party’s backing could give the parties a majority of seats in the Knesset. However, it would be a slim to nonexistent majority either way, and would require Lieberman to possibly partner with ultra-Orthodox parties or Arab parties — both of whom he has refused to sit in a government with.
The ultra-Orthodox parties use their position to get huge entitlements for their constituents, many of whom, refuse to work, but live on charity and government handouts. In addition, their young adults, by and large, do not serve in the army, abusing a law that was passed decades ago, that allowed for army exemption of a small number of Torah scholars. Meanwhile, the rest of Israel’s children risk their lives in military service on their behalf—which they don’t even acknowledge.
Lieberman has repeatedly said the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties were not Zionist and were harming the country. He also refuses to back a coalition that would include the Arab party, Joint List, calling them a fifth column.
*By Messianic he is not referring to Messianic Jews, but religious fanatics that seek to govern the country by religious zeal.
Photo credit asianews.it