The post-election coalition negotiations are underway and it may take several weeks for the country to finally have a new government, with Prime Minister Netanyahu once again at its helm.
As a formality, Netanyahu has declared that he wishes to have a broad-based government. There are quite a number of mathematical potentials. For example, the Yesh Atid party (nineteen seats) plus Jewish Home (twelve seats) plus Likud (thirty-one seats) add up to sixty-two of the Knesset’s one hundred twenty seats, enough to form a government without including the religious parties.
I strongly suggest that Netanyahu use what I call Rabin’s Guide to Coalition Formation. This would be done by quickly forming a narrow but solid government that would not fall for the next four years. Other parties would then be invited to join under the new government’s terms.
Let’s go back to the year 1992 for a greater understanding of Rabin’s Guide.
In that year’s election, due to infighting in the Likud, Rabin’s Labor Party won an astounding 44 seats. (Thousands of right-wing votes were wasted because the various parties on the right failed to unite.) The extreme-left Meretz party received twelve seats, its best showing ever. There were five seats for the Arab parties. This added up to sixty-one.
Rabin’s Labor Party and Meretz wasted no time in calling a Knesset session and declaring a new government.
But what was this new government worth when the five Arabs could, at any time, call for a no-confidence vote and instantly finish the new Rabin-led coalition?
Therefore, Rabin went to Shas and said, “Sure, we’ll give a big budget to the Shas-run yeshiva network. Shas gave its six seats to Rabin. So he had sixty-two seats plus the Arab parties when he headed to Washington for the famous Arafat handshake in front of a smiling Clinton. The rest is history.
In an eight-inch advertisement in the Feb. 1 issue of The Jerusalem Post, I sent a message to Netanyahu that read as follows:
PM Binyamin Netanyahu
Congratulations, Rebbe, from your biggest Hassid, Dov Shurin.
Please remember 1992 when 44+12+5 non-Zionist MKs raising their hands from the opposition led to Oslo and arming terrorists in Israel!
Binyamin, YOU have a clear Zionist majority of 61+2 Kadima MKs that will return to Likud.
Please, during our turbulent times, DON’T make the mistake of giving an actor a chance to unseat you and become the star. He says openly that his goal is to replace you. Keep his party in the opposition and be uncompromising!
Today, Israel needs a leader that cares nothing about himself but ONLY about the good of his nation and our family worldwide. WE NEED our Rebbe, WE NEED YOU!
May Hashem bless you, our nation, and guide the negotiation.
Now, allow me to clarify the meaning of my advertisement. First, how can I refer to our prime minister as “My Rebbe”? For this, I take you to Pirkei Avos, Chapter 6, Mishnah 3: If a Jew learns even one little os [meaning a letter or a sign or a wonderful thing] from his fellow Jew, it is correct to give him honor and even call him My Rebbe.
As I noted in my previous column, in 2001 Netanyahu gave up a sure shot at becoming prime minister on principle. For that I call him my Rebbe. He taught me a most valuable lesson; your nation comes before you.
When I mentioned “an actor” in my Jerusalem Post ad, I was of course referring to Yair Lapid and his 19-seat party. Lapid, who before now was never even a Knesset member, made the mistake of saying on TV that his goal is to be prime minister in another two years. He was hinting that with his party in the government he will look for the first opportunity to vote the new government down (while Israel’s leftist media glorifies him all the way).
And so the smartest thing Netanyahu can do is to quickly employ the Rabin Guide to Coalition Formation. He has sixty-one solid partners with the National Religious and haredi parties. They will never vote him down.
May Hashem inspire him to take that path, and may Netanyahu’s new government stave off all outside pressure, standing strong for Israel’s security and growth.