ANALYSIS: Will Coronavirus Solve Israel’s Political Crisis?

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday announced dramatic new measures to combat pandemic

By Yochanan Visser | | Topics: Coronavirus
Coronavirus might force Israel to establish national unity government.
Photo: Flash90

While the Coronavirus crisis in Israel was getting bigger by the day and was increasingly having a major impact on many aspects of life in the Jewish state the losers of the last parliamentary election were obsessed with political games born out of hatred for one man: Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.

Kachol Lavan (“Blue and White”) that lost the election to Likud together with the Gesher, Labor and, Meretz merger is trying to oust Netanyahu against the will of the Israeli people and was deaf to calls to form a national emergency government in light of the crisis.

On Sunday, the party which was founded with only one goal: to get rid of the right-wing government led by Netanyahu, entered into negotiations with the other winner of the election the Joint List of Arab Parties that won 15 seats in the new Knesset.

The move toward a minority government supported by the Arab parties came after Kachol Lavan quickly gave in to all the demands of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman, another Netanyahu hater, who demands all sorts of measures that aim to get rid of Israel’s Jewish character.

Liberman hates the ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel as much as he hates his former boss in Balfour Street and wants the government to introduce legislation that would change the status quo on religious affairs that has existed since the founding of modern Israel.

Together with Yisrael Beiteinu, which ideological is a right-wing party, Kachol Lavan and the Meretz, Labor, Gesher merger would have only 47 mandates 14 short of a narrow majority government.

It took Kachol Lavan leader Benny Gantz a few days to announce triumphantly that “someone was celebrating too soon” a reference to Netanyahu who had labeled the election results “a great victory”.

Gantz then went on breaking a pre-election promise about a Jewish majority government, which he later changed into a Zionist majority government, and announced his party would enter into negotiations with the Arab parties which are all anti-Zionist and often behave as enemies of Israel.

To understand the magnitude of Gantz’ announcement one only has to delve in the Joint List’ political platform, which in some respects reminds one of that of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

The Arab parties want a peace process with the Palestinian Arabs that must be based on the so-called Two-State-Solution with borders that would be indefensible, in other words, a return to the 1948 armistice lines.

Jerusalem, according to the Arab Parties must be re-divided and should become the capital of a Palestinian state.

According to Mtanes Shihadeh, the leader of the staunchly anti-Israeli Balad party, the Joint List will demand the annulment of the Kaminitz Law dealing with illegal construction and the Nation-State Law which defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The Kaminitz Law, a 2017 amendment to the Planning and Building Law, was aimed at strengthening “enforcement and penalization of planning and building offenses.”

The amendment of the law was meant to end rampant illegal building in the Israeli Arab sector but the Joint List says Israel created a severe housing crisis in Arab cities and villages by applying “systematic discrimination” in state land planning and allocation of land for construction purposes.

Kachol Lavan would have have to break another pre-election promise namely applying sovereignty over the Jordan Valley if it wanted that the Arab parties support Gantz’s government from the outside.

The Joint List’s political manifesto called “Peace among the nations and national rights”, furthermore, demands that Israel puts an end to the “occupation of all Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories captured in 1967.”

Israel must “uproot all the settlements and the racist partition fence,” says the manifesto in reference to the security fence Israel built to halt the wave of suicide bombings during the so-called Second Intifada, Yasser Arafat’s war against Israeli citizens.

Israel must also free all “political prisoners” the manifesto says in reference to Palestinian terrorists who are serving sentences in Israeli jails and must allow the implementation of the non-existing “Right of Return” for Palestinian Arab refugees, according to the Joint List.

The Joint List also made clear it supports the violent Palestinian Arab struggle against “the occupation and their struggle for freedom” and rejects US President Trump’s new plan for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In addition the Arab Parties demand that Israel ends the non-existing land blockade of Gaza and rejects the Israeli demand that the Palestinian leadership recognizes Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

While Kachol Lavan negotiators continued their conversations with leaders of the Arab parties it became clear that not every politician in the party was happy with these negotiations.

Kachol Lavan MP’s Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser expressed their opposition against the attempt to enlist the Arab parties for a left-wing minority government and caused an uproar in the party.

The two MP’s engaged in a heated discussion with Kachol Lavan leaders but stuck to their position after which Gantz demanded they would resign from the Knesset before it is sworn in next week.

On Tuesday, Orly Levy-Abecassis, another MP of the left-wing bloc, made clear she would not vote in favor of an Arab-backed minority government led by Gantz.

The Gesher leader wrote on her Facebook page that she wouldn’t support such a government and said she didn’t see herself “obligated anymore to cooperation with Meretz” something that was forced upon her by Labor leader Amir Peretz.

If Hendel, Hauser, and Levy-Abecassis would stay firm on their promises Gantz wouldn’t have a majority even with the support of the Joint List

Several political leaders in Israel, among them PM Netanyahu and his nemesis Avigdor Liberman then began to call for the forming of a national emergency government in light of the Corona crisis.

This came after a dramatic address to the Israeli people by Netanyahu about the Corona crisis in which he announced that the education system in Israel would be shut down for more than six weeks.

Israel should have a national emergency government as soon as possible Netanyahu said indicating he was willing to sit down with Gantz the same evening.

Later on Thursday evening, Gantz responded by saying that in light of the situation he was willing to discuss “the formation of a broad national unity government that would include the representation of all parts of the house.”

It is widely perceived that he included the Arab parties in “the house” to save his face.

If the sides succeed to form a national unity government against all odds the Corona crisis will have solved Israel’s longest political crisis.

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