Netanyahu and Liberman must rescue Israel from self-imploding

March 25, 2020 by David Singer
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Israel is in serious danger of self-imploding as a political, legal, and constitutional crisis of epic proportions is set to erupt.

Yuli Edelstein

It can be averted if Israel’s Prime Minister – Benjamin Netanyahu – and head of Yisrael Beiteinu – Avigdor Liberman – resolve the issue of the ultra-orthodox doing military service – raised by Liberman 12 months ago.

The looming crisis has been created following the Speaker of the Knesset – Yuri Edelstein – rejecting the advisory opinion of the High Court of Justice that he declare his position as speaker open when the Knesset resumes on 25 March.

In his official response to the High Court – Edelstein stated:

“I won’t agree to ultimatums. I can’t agree because that would make the Knesset’s agenda determined by the High Court and not by the Speaker of the Knesset, who is assigned this role.”

Edelstein’s refusal to commit to any set date comes amidst the uncertainty caused by the ongoing political negotiations to form a government.

The High Court – unmoved by Edelstein’s submission – ordered Edelstein to convene the Knesset by 25 March and hold a vote that could see him replaced. The High Court did not say what actions it would take if Edelstein attempted to ignore the ruling.

Front and centre in this crisis has been the attempt by:

  • 33 Blue and White members,
  • 7 Labor-Meretz-Gesher members
  • 7 Yisrael Beiteinu members and
  • 15 Joint List Arab bloc members

to advance legislation barring a Knesset member facing criminal charges from forming a government – effectively disqualifying Netanyahu.

This bloc of 62 members make strange bedfellows:

  • Joint List does not recognise Israel as the Jewish National Home
  • Blue & White leaders Gantz, Lapid and Ya’alon have personal grievances against Netanyahu going back years
  • Liberman has a fractured relationship with Netanyahu, has refused to sit next to Joint List Knesset members and favoured transfer of Israeli Arabs into a new Palestinian state.

Liberman had made non-negotiable demands for entering into Government with Netanyahu after the February 2019 indecisive election –which if accepted – would have seen no need for the two elections that followed and this current crisis.

The principal issue was Netanyahu’s refusal to accept a bill drafted by Liberman calling for ultra-orthodox Jews to do military service. Netanyahu was captive to the ultra-orthodox Jews in his then coalition who threatened to bolt if he wavered.

Liberman would not budge.

A second election followed in September 2019 – when an expected increased turn out by the religious parties to oppose Liberman’s bill never eventuated. The religious parties’ votes only increased by 91650 whilst Liberman’s party vote increased by 137684.

Liberman again would not yield in his demands – emboldened by his increased vote exceeding that of the religious parties.

Israel held its third election this month.

The religious parties are on far weaker ground this time as they are locked in to a single negotiating bloc now containing 58 members.

Liberman is also in a weaker position – having lost 46789 votes and one seat whilst Netanyahu gained 238882 votes and 4 seats.

Cutting a deal between Netanyahu and Liberman remains the only option to prevent Israel entering into a period of complete political and constitutional upheaval once the Knesset sitting commences.

Liberman and Netanyahu’s shared dream could be the circuit breaker: Both want to see Jewish sovereignty immediately restored in Judea and Samaria after 3000 years – in tandem with President Trump – whilst Blue & White do not. Neither can allow their personal antipathy towards each other to miss this golden opportunity.

Netanyahu and Liberman must do a deal before the Knesset sits. They cannot afford to fail.

David Singer is a Sydney lawyer and foundation member of the International Analysts Network


3 Responses to “Netanyahu and Liberman must rescue Israel from self-imploding”
  1. Eion Isaac says:

    Just as stable would be Netanyahu taking off six months as official prime minister to let the egoidys work something Interim and then if the three generals and the second generation Holocaust Survivor Lapid as is Gantz rule with Likud .
    If they stuff up Netanyahu can retutn as did David Ben Gurion and Netanyahu can still be the National Security Determinator .

    • DAVID SINGER says:

      Your suggestion is a recipe for total chaos and instability that needs to be avoided at all costs. What has been happening in last few days makes a national unity Government between Gantz and Netanyahu most unlikely. The best option to avoid a fourth election is a Netanyahu-Liberman Government – that should have been formed after the first inconclusive election with a little give and take by both Netanyahu and Liberman. Israel has gone through a lot of pain since then.

      Edelstein’s principled resignation as Speaker has now given Netanyahu and Liberman another 48 hours to reach agreement before the Knesset reopens and all hell breaks out.

      • DAVID SINGER says:

        This time frame has now been reduced by 24 hours after a midnight sitting by the High Court ordered the Knesset to sit today. High Court will have to wear what happens when that session starts – if Netanyahu and Liberman have not buried their differences by then.

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