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Israeli Coalition Negotiations: You Can’t Have it All

Inflexible 'principles' are for the opposition only, not the coalition.
Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party Likud party coalition negotiators.

Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party Likud party coalition negotiators.
Photo Credit: Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90

In Israel, we had elections a few weeks ago, January  22.  It was just before my two week trip to the states and I’ve been back a week.  And it doesn’t yet seem like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been able to put together a government coalition.

During the election campaign, I blogged a lot about the difference between a coalition party and and opposition party.  Netanyahu understands the differences very well, IMHO almost too well.  Inflexible “principles” are for the opposition only, not the coalition.  There’s a moral/ideological price to pay for that “Volvo.”

Netanyahu isn’t new to coalition politics.  It’s his third big attempt, and he succeeded pretty easily the two previous times, even after the elections when Likud did not get the most Knesset votes.  But this time, he has to contend with political newbies, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett who are taking their campaign promises and alleged agreement with each other much more seriously than the more jaded and experienced politicians would.

Leaks from Likud reveal that NRP-Bayit Yehudi’s Bennett had been offered some very good positions for his people, but he isn’t biting alone.

Likud Beytenu offered Bayit Yehudi the Education Ministry, a top socioeconomic portfolio, and a deputy defense minister who would deal with settlements, Likud sources said on Tuesday.
A Likud source said the offer was conditioned on Bayit Yehudi conducting marathon coalition talks over 48 hours to become the first party to join the coalition.

The media keeps saying that he and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid’s have made a deal to pressure Bibi by sticking to the same basic government conditions/principles.

Lapid is sticking to what could be a socially, spiritually and military upheaval in the IDF, almost 100% draft of chareidim.

Yesh Atid wanted to set the age of enlistment for haredim at 18, as in the rest of the general population, and allow exemptions for only 400 exemplary yeshiva students every year. In the first five years, however, Lapid imagined offering full exemptions to ultra-Orthodox students who requested them, introducing a gradual increase in ultra-Orthodox conscription.

This may have sounded good when asking secular Leftists for their votes, but many of those voters don’t really want their children to be influenced by extremely observant Torah loyal Jews.  Esser Agaroth has an interesting post about that.

The Left only wants to enlist Haredim for the purposes of indoctrinating them into state loyalism. It has NO interest in having IDF units which inspire curiosity in its children about God and His Torah, about prayer, Shabbath, and Tefillin, or any other authentic Jewish observances.

That’s what this all boils down to.  We’re really fighting for the soul of the Jewish People, especially those in Israel, not for Volvos.  So, nu, will the wily Netanyahu succeed in crafting a new coalition before his deadline, or not?

*A Volvo was once the make of cars used by Israeli Government Ministers.  All ministers and sgan (deputy) ministers are provided with chauffeured limousines, cars plus drivers as perks of power.  So, referring to the “Volvo” is to refer to those perks.

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About the Author: Batya Medad blogs at Shiloh Musings.


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