Life in Israel is complicated, its politics even more so
By David E. Kaplan
The Thomas Edison quote “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” could have applied to Israeli politics unfolding in the Knesset on Wednesday the 14th. There was little to inspire coming from the governing – somewhat of a misnomer – coalition’s shenanigans, but it did have much of the country perspiring in anticipation.
It was a day to be attired in togs and towels rather than suits as people from the prime minister down literally looked like they were sweating.
In the early morning’s buildup,everyone knew something big was happening – possibly about to explode – but people were sketchy on the specifics. The next day articles appeared in papers under such headings as the following which appeared in The Jerusalem Post:
THE JUDICIAL SELECTION SAGA EXPLAINED
While it was unfolding in real time, those less au fait with the complex procedural details asked others, who were frequently met with:
“It’s complicated ……”
What was a vote for two positions on a committee had Israelis across the country glued to the news; calling or texting each other for updates or explanations and with half of them ready with their unfurled flags at their front doors ready to take to the streets in protest. Let it be said that the vote was for no ordinary committee but for the all-important Judicial Selection Committee which stood at the core of the protests over the governments assault on democracy with its judicial ‘reform’ – another misnomer – hence the more favoured usage of ‘overhaul’. And with threats coming from all directions if their expectations based on understandings or promises made with the Prime Minister were not met, the stage was set for another societal implosion. That left the PM to skillfully engage in his Machiavellian maneuverings and as the morning passed into afternoon with no announcement of results of the voting, the tension mounted. Maybe the PM was this time losing his touch; less “skillful”.
At midday we heard ‘Road 2’ was blocked, only to learn that it was not to do with protestors but a “suspicious object”.
What was transpiring in the Knesset was far more ‘suspicious’!
If the hallways of the Knesset are characterized by twist and turns, so to were the twists and turns of the drama playing out within this parliamentary labyrinth. It could be described in one word – intrigue!
The Great Bard had it right with “All the world is a stage” – as people have roles to play in life just as actors do in the theatre – and there were quite some talked about – others best forgotten -performances. In the starring role was the inimitable prime minister who was juggling egos and agendas of the likes of Levin, Rothman, Ben Gvir and in her first major starring role, Likud MK Tally Gotliv, which turned out disastrous for her and hopefully her future in politics. There were a host of others in cameo roles but that was a side show.
Adding to the plot – which became quite comedic as even newsreaders were speculating after 3 hours of vote counting “How long does it take to count 120 votes?” In fact not even 120, as a few MKS were traveling abroad! Clearly, folk were speculating that they were delaying revealing the results for fear of an unpredictable fallout.
In the nail-biting finale, the result was unexpected. It did not go according to Bibi’s design of a no vote for both candidates – Tally Gotliv and the opposition Yesh Atid candidate, Karine Elharrar which would have resulted automatically with a fresh vote in 30 days allowing Bibi his most precious commodity – time. Time allows him to contort and contrive, but it was not to be because although Gotliv received a paltry 15 votes and was predictably out, the huge surprise was that Elharrar received a whopping 58 votes that meant that 4 members of the Prime Ministers Likud Party deserted and voted for the opposition candidate. There would still be another vote in 30 days but the opposition had won the day and awaiting Israeli flags remained unfurled at front doors – there were to be no protests on the 14th.
The Likudniks who broke rank was the most talked-about twist and turn sending a strong message to Netanyahu. This follows the earlier major expression of defiance within the coalition of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant‘s public criticism in March, when he warned that the judicial overhaul legislation posed a “clear and present danger” to Israel’s national security. That message now resonated in the inner sanctum of the Likud on Wednesday 14.
Speaking at a conference at Reichman University in Herzliya, Yesh Atid party chief, Yair Lapid said:
“What we saw yesterday in the Knesset vote was the beginning of a new Israeli alliance. From the chaos and mayhem and lies, an alliance has been created that no longer deals with right, left and center — but rather with an attempt to safeguard the State of Israel.”
Those coalition MKs who went behind the screen and voted in favour of MK Karine Elharrar “did not switch parties nor receive any promise,” said Lapid. “They did it because they are decent people and are no longer willing to be part of the mechanism destroying Israeli society. I am full of respect for this.”
He added further that:
“We will keep working with them to ensure the well-being of Israeli democracy. Some of them are telling us: ‘Even in an open vote, we won’t cooperate with anything that damages the State of Israel. We weren’t elected to the Knesset to serve the extremists’.”
Is this a portend for the future. Is Bibi’s support within the Likud for the controversial judicial overhaul severely eroded?
This would appear to be Lipid’s thinking when he added:
“This alliance is the future of the country. A patriotic, liberal, decent, incorrupt majority that acts to boost security, to lower the cost of living, to create a constitution, and most of all — that is determined to ensure that this nation won’t be torn apart.”
Can not argue with these aspirations.
Should this take root, Israelis in their thousands across the country could start making alternate plans for their Saturday nights!
While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves. LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).