After the 21st Knesset fell apart shortly after being sworn in at the beginning of May, we were all sure that the politicians had learned from their mistakes and that after the new elections on September 17, we would get a new, functioning government. The politicians had promised repeatedly even after the second round of elections that “there will be no third elections.” Yet here we are.
When coalition talks began after the last election (or at least something that looked talks) Netanyahu went first to try and form a majority government. His four weeks passed without even a hint that it would work. Both sides, “Blue and White” and Likud, as well as Avigdor Liberman of Israel Beiteinu, refused to budge and insisted on their positions.
Then it was Benny Gantz’s turn. When President Reuven Rivlin gave him the mandate to form a government, he seemed confident. At last, he finally had a chance to become Prime Minister after seeing himself as the winner of the first election in April. But the same thing that happened to Netanyahu happened to Gantz. The mandated four weeks passed, there were a few meetings between both sides, but without any real progress. Liberman, too, remained steadfast and stubborn, even trying to force the two major parties to work together when the rumor spread that he would tolerate a minority government with the support of the Joint Arab List. But neither side was impressed, and in the end Liberman had to admit that his ploy was never serious.
Then, for the first time in Israel’s history, the mandate to form a government was in the hands of all members of Knesset, any of whom could try to get at least 61 signatures in order to win the chance to form the next government.
During these weeks, reports came of the Attorney General’s decision to indict Netanyahu, who some are now accusing of deliberately procrastinating in order to force new elections so that he can remain in office to achieve immunity from criminal prosecution. There were some rumors of the possibility that Netanyahu would waive his immunity to bring “Blue and White” to the table. Another rumor had it that the Likud had turned to Amir Peretz’s Labor Party with a tempting offer to serve as Prime Minister in rotation with Netanyahu, and then be elected to succeed Rivlin as President. Nothing happened, and the Knesset proceeded to disband as of midnight.
The only thing the Knesset members could agree on was the one thing they all promised would never happen – the date of the third election in less than a year is set for March 2, 2020. For the first time, an election will take place on a Monday and not, as usual, on a Tuesday, because March 3 commemorates Israel’s fallen soldiers whose burial places are not known.
And so the 22nd Knesset, in which we had placed so many hopes, is dissolved. Despite that, members of Knesset have a special reward coming in the new year for all of their “hard work” – a 3.4 percent salary increase. Israeli law requires that MKs’ salaries be adjusted in accordance with changes in the average wage. As of January, our public servants will receive an impressive monthly salary of 45,339 shekels ($12,500). Meanwhile, everything in the government remains at a standstill until we once again go to the polls.
Naturally, people on the street are very upset over the entire fiasco. New elections are expensive, and that money comes from the citizens’ already extremely high income taxes. And that’s not just for the election process. In Israel, the taxpayers’ shekels are used to fund the advertising campaigns of the different parties.
And now the whole game starts all over again, and the election campaigns for 2020 are off to the races, but most of the good citizens of Israel are feeling left far behind and annoyed.