Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday morning invited the leaders of the coalition parties once again to try to solve the government crisis. In his series of recent urgent talks, Netanyahu has been urging his partners to support a vote to dissolve the Knesset in order to present a unified front and a tangible threat to Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman.
Which doesn’t allow for the fact that Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon is not happy about joining a minority government without Liberman, making his final decision a mystery. At this stage, both Liberman and Kahlon plan to support the bill to disperse the Knesset in its initial plenum vote Monday. This does not mean the Knesset is actually being scattered asunder – it takes two more votes for this to happen.
Liberman is scheduled to speak at a meeting of the Yisrael Beiteinu faction on Monday, and sources in his circle are saying the chances of solving the crisis are nil. According to said sources, Netanyahu did not put serious pressure on the Haredim and made do with an “irrelevant” compromise.
According to the compromise proposal approved Sunday night by Agudath Israel’s Council of Torah Sages, the IDF draft law would be approved almost as is, but won’t mention any recruitment quotas, which would be determined later by the government.
Of course, the entire conflict surrounding the draft bill since its original version, the Tal Commission Law, was revoked by outgoing Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch in 2012 – has been about recruitment quotas (Beinish thought 3,000 Haredi recruits each year was too little). The purpose of the bill is to institute “burden equality” for the secular and Haredi communities, so how do you measure equality without quota numbers?
Rightwing Union chairman Rafi Peretz, who once served as the IDF chief rabbi, told Reshet Bet radio Monday morning: “I intend to talk to Liberman, I call on him to talk about this.”
National Union chairman Bezalel Smotrich tweeted Liberman in a style reminiscent of a Boy Scout leader on the eve of a tough hike: “Shalom Avigdor Liberman my friend, contrary to your and many others’ expectations, all the Haredi parties, including Agudath Israel, stand behind the compromise. Now the ball is in your court. Show some responsibility and give a positive answer tonight, and yalla (come on), let’s establish a good rightwing government and change the world.”
Netanyahu’s newspaper, Israel Hayom, published on Monday this unambiguous headline: “The fraud is exposed: Liberman decided to topple the rightwing government in the name of his lust for revenge against Netanyahu.”
The text continued below: “Like a predator jackal, Avigdor Liberman has been looking for a long time to get rid of Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he loathes. From the first day of the coalition negotiations, Yisrael Beiteinu’s negotiating team has put forward a series of irrational and exaggerated demands.”
Ouch… “Predator jackal?” Has Israel Today turned into The People’s Daily?
Haaretz’s headline Monday morning took a different angle: “Netanyahu has become a burden on the Likud and the main obstacle to forming a government.” The Palestinian daily suggested that any other Likud leader would have long ago resolved these conflicts between the coalition partners. The paper added that the inconceivable and irrational scenario under which Israel is going to new elections foretells nothing less than an apocalyptic disaster for Netanyahu.
In the end, Haaretz joined Israel Hayom’s opinion that the draft bill, the details of which no one – certainly not the mostly Russian Yisrael Beiteinu voters – understands, is only an excuse, and Liberman has simply decided to land the ax on the exposed neck of his partner of the last quarter century.
“Perhaps he sees it as a service to the nation,” Haaretz suggested, “Maybe he’s sick of serving, for the fifth time, as the bridge between Bibi and governing.”