SPECIAL NOTICE: Today’s blog is appearing earlier than usual because of political developments in Israel.
UPDATE at 8:oo am, and TODAY’S BLOG:
In a shocking turn of events (or perhaps not so shocking), Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz have agreed to form a unity government. Almost immediately, the move to dissolve the current Knesset was canceled, and elections have been pushed back to October 22, 2013.
You may remember that your humble servant wondered some days ago why Netanyahu was going to call early elections in the first place since the likely outcome of those elections would have been that Likud would have ended up with the same Coalition partners that it now has. The further result would have been that Kadima would have lost at least 15 seats–many of which would have been picked up by the Labor Party and Yair Lapid’s new party.
You may also remember that I pointed out that the basic problem for Netanyahu was the Tal Law which his dominant Coalition partner Yisrael Beiteinu was determined to change and which the small religious parties in his Coalition were seemingly determined not to. Yisrael Beiteinu had the votes to change the Law–and to do so would have meant the end of the religious parties in the Coalition–and therefore the end of the Coalition.
The only alternatives were new elections or a unity government.
The parties in the current Knesset are shown in the table below (*indicates a party not in the new unity government).
|Yisrael Beiteinu (Lieberman)||15|
|United Torah Judaism||5|
|*United Arab List Ta’al||4|
So what does Kadima get?
1. Shaul Mofaz is appointed Deputy PM (acting PM when Netanyahu is away), and Minister without portfolio.
2. Shaul Mofaz becomes a member of the inner security cabinet.
3. Kadima will chair the Knesset Finance Committee.
4. Kadima will obtain more portfolios in 2013.
5. Kadima will head the committee that changes the Tal Law.
6. Kadima will oversee changes to the Israel electoral system.
What does Likud get?
1. Netanyahu remains in power, and Kadima has agreed not to try to topple the government before October 22, 2013.
Who is the big winner?
Kadima. The party was on the verge of being voted virtually out of existence in the proposed early elections. It has returned from the dead.
Who are the big losers?
1. The religious parties. Whatever sway they held over the Netanyahu Coalition is gone. They can still make life miserable (and they are still technically in the Coalition), but their power has evaporated overnight.
2. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Nafthali Bennett’s My Israel. Neither of these parties will even have a chance to enter the Knesset for another year and a half.
3. The Labor party. Shelly Yachimovich is going nowhere for the time being–except for now being the “leader of the opposition” because Labor is the largest political party in the Knesset that is not in the Coalition (with a pitiful 8 members).
4. The Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. With Ehud Barak as Defense Minister and Shaul Mofaz as Deputy PM, the Jewish communities have been completely hung out to dry.
But the biggest losers are the people of Israel who voted for Likud and the national religious parties in the last election–and ultimately, Israel itself.
In the end, for all of his bluster, Benjamin Netanyahu lacked the courage and the confidence to carry his vision forward. In taking the politically expedient option, he further betrayed the principles of Likud (having first done so by choosing Ehud Barak as Defense Minister).
What we have now is a government whose largest political party is committed to appeasement, a government that will eventually be coerced by members of Kadima and their international friends into giving the Palestinians (the PLO and Hamas) everything in return for nothing, a government of craven politicians only interested in one thing–saving their own skin.
It is a dark day for Israel.