Rumors are flying high in the media that Binyamin Netanyahu might ditch Avigdor Lieberman in favor of Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party. As unlikely as it seems right now, it is a scenario most Israelis would rather see.
Choosing Livni over Lieberman presumably means the formation of a rotating government, in which Netanyahu would be Prime Minister for 2 or 3 years, and Livni would replace him as Prime Minister for another year or two.
To me it seems like a high-risk poker game. The two possible scenarios are vastly different, and it is up to one man and one man only to choose among the two. Just like a suspenseful Tribe Council in the reality hit “Survivor”, Netanyahu is the factor that tips the scales, and whichever name he writes on the parchment, this moment is the season’s strategic cliffhanger.
“Taking out the goat” is a known Israeli expression. It usually means creating a false demand during negotiations, so it could be dropped later in a public display of compromise. Obviously, the whole idea of taking out the goat revolves around ego-maintenance and manipulation of public opinion.
Well, over the past few days, knowing whether Daniel Friedmann, current Minister of Justice, will remain in office when the new government swears in — is Israel’s most burning question. Is Binyamin Netanyahu truly bent on his decision, or is Prof. Friedmann the goat that has to be taken out?
Photo: Michael Kramer
Either way, the implications are very serious, and the answer should probably clear up in the next few days.
These were strange elections. The “Right Block” (of political parties) and the “Center Block” have achieved a problematic tie, while the “Left Block” has been brutally crushed by its (lack of) voters.
Ehud Barak, a former Prime Minister, current Minister of Defense, and chairman of the Avoda (Israeli Labor Party), was the first party leader to carry a speech last night, soon after the exit polls were announced at 10pm. Among other things, in his “Defeat Speech” — as it was quickly declared by the news media — he warned that his party isn’t afraid of sitting in the opposition. Other prominent members of the Avoda are now echoing the same message. “We need to listen to our constituency, and to rebuild ourselves in the opposition”, they are saying.
A similar scenario is also taking place in Meretz, the socialist Left party, who now remains with merely 3 seats in the Knesset. (The Israeli parliament holds 120 seats). Zehava Gal-On, who apparently just lost her place in the Knesset, also wants to see her party “laying a new ideological foundation” in the opposition rows.
It seems that “sitting in the opposition” has become the preferred solution to any parliamentary decline. Indeed, the public gets weary of ruling parties more than he does of opposition parties. And it is much easier to keep your campaign promises when you are not confronted with the fierce pressures of the coalition, which sometimes demand very difficult compromises.
However, I do believe that any political party should at least attempt to enter the coalition, as long as it is able to maintain its core values and to deliver at least some of its promises. It’s all too “easy” to turn away from the heat.
Yes, some parties are too obsessed with being a part of the coalition, willing to sell away their constituency for an overpriced seat by the government table — yet others are all too shy of it. Remember that
Change comes from within.
Livni had about a month to form a coalition ever since she was elected Kadima’s. But in the past 28 days she seemed to hurry nowhere, conducting the negotiations quite sluggishly.
Today her 90 minutes are up, and she only has a single round of overtime. (if you’d excuse my soccer metaphors). This morning, Mrs. Livni met with the president Shimon Peres and was granted 2 more weeks to try and form a government. If she fails, then the country is automatically thrown into an election period.
Until this moment the gap between her Kadima party and Shas is so wide, that it seems she has much work to do if she wants to bridge the differences. But I also think that Shas is just as eager to remain in the coalition, and as time progress, they will become more and more flexible in their demands.
And Tzipi Livni knows that. So perhaps that’s the game she’s playing. Is she a poker-face player (as evident by her past in the Mossad) or a weak politician (as her opponents claim)?