She might not be a queen, but many Israelis are hailing Orly Levy-Abekasis as a modern-day Esther after she unexpectedly thwarted the formation of a minority government propped up by hostile Arab parties bent on erasing the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party won the most seats in the recent election (36), the right-wing bloc is three seats shy of a 61-seat majority.
And that provided the center-left bloc led by the “Blue and White” party with a golden opportunity to finally oust Netanyahu from the premiership by forming a minority ruling coalition.
But, in order to get the nod from President Reuven Rivlin to proceed down that path, “Blue and White” chief Benny Gantz would need the outside backing of the 15-seat Joint Arab List.
Earlier this week, the Joint List announced what the price would be for its cooperation. And it was steeper than some were willing to accept. (See Arabs Target Jewish Faith in Coalition Demands)
“There are those who are shamefully willing to pay any price to anybody in order to form a minority government,” Levy-Abekasis wrote on Facebook, stating that her Gesher party, which is currently merged with the left-wing Labor and far-left Meretz, will not support a minority coalition backed by the Arabs.
She went on to note that it “violates basic norms and values” to align with those whose agenda is to erase the Jewish character of the State of Israel. Furthermore, Balad, one of the parties that makes up the Joint List, is headed by Arab politicians who have routinely voiced support for Palestinian terrorist violence against Israelis.
Without Gesher’s support, and with two of the more right-leaning “Blue and White” MKs saying that they, too, will refuse to back a coalition that relies on the Arabs, Gantz may have as little chance as Netanyahu of forming a government.
And that would mean a fourth election.
Worst betrayal ever?
Despite having merged for the sake of this last election with two left-wing parties (Labor and Meretz), Levy-Abekasis is still regarded as right-wing.
Still, Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg slammed Levy-Abekasis for pulling such a stunt just when it seemed the Left might be able to finally bring about the end of the Netanyahu era.
“It is inconceivable to simply steal the left’s chance at forming a government and hand it on a silver platter to those on the right,” Zandberg said in an interview with Kan Reshet Bet. “This is one of the greatest betrayals ever, in my memory.”
Of course, there are those who would argue that the Zionist Left’s willingness to get in bed with Israel-hating Arab politicians who see themselves as representatives of the Palestinian nationalist cause is a much greater betrayal.
Amid these dramatic developments, Netanyahu and his Likud this week began preparing for a possible fourth election by cancelling party primaries.
A statement released by Likud announced that if a fourth election takes place in September, or if a minority government is formed but lasts for less than one year, the current Likud list will remain in place for the next election.