# 228 – Pre-Israel Coalitions by Stephen Pohlmann - Ourboox.com
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# 228 – Pre-Israel Coalitions

Helping others to understand Israel - and Israelis to understand others...
  • Joined Sep 2016
  • Published Books 423

March 10, 2013

In January, I wrote pre- and post-election letters.

Now, I though it would be fun – appropriate – to write pre- and post-coalition letters.

Let me first stress that I am not a political expert. But, like the other 7 million here, I think I am.


At the last election, the largest party, Kadima, led by Tsipi Livni, was not able to form a government.

The President then decided to give the job to the 2nd largest party, Netanyahu’s Likud.

The centre and right, backed as usual by the religious bloc, was large enough to succeed.


Last week, President Peres gave Netanyahu an extra 2 weeks to play with (till March 16). If Netanyahu does not succeed, then Peres has the option of repeating himself, and giving the next strongest party a chance. That would be Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid (‘There’s a Future’) Party, despite only winning 19 of the 120 seats. A reminder that Yair Lapid’s party is totally new – only formed a few months ago – and does not contain 1 single member with parliamentarian experience.


But let’s forget about that. Obama will be here in 2 weeks – with his 700-strong entourage – and we just cannot mess his trip up with silly politics. So, a coalition will be formed within a few days. I can guarantee that.


I shall try not to repeat myself here…..The problem for Netanyahu has been the surprising bond between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett,. who together have 31 seats – and Bennett’s 12 are also all new. A reminder that the former is the good-looking former journalist, very secular, very modern, and son of another popular journalist who suddenly went into politics in the 90s, and worked closely with Ariel Sharon. And the latter is a hi-tech millionaire who can best be described as a modern (yuppy) religious Zionist.


(This is as opposed to the quite large numbers of ‘Haredim’, the religious who are still waiting for the Messiah, and who do not recognise the political state of Israel prior to His coming. Many do live here as, or almost as parasites).


Lapid refuses to serve in the government alongside the Haredim. He is against their demands, which are basically 3-fold:

  1. They have the right not to serve in the army – nor do any kind of community service

  2. Their schools are financed by the State, and have the right not to teach anything but religious subjects.

  3. Each child receives state benefits. The larger the family, the more benefits. (It is God’s gift to have children).


The Haredim do not really care who is in power, as long as they get what they want. But, for the first time in many years, the ‘modern religious’ members of the Knesset outnumber the traditional by 20 to 18. The modernists do not mind ‘doing their bit’ for their country.


Netanyahu never envisaged ruling without the Haredim. He has been able to live with their demands. But times have changed, and he is a politician who wants to stay in power. So he is changing his priorities and has finally offered to work with both of the new parties.


Now the haggling starts over the ministries. Lapid wants to reduce the number from 30 to 18. He will have to compromise. There will be 24-25. Lapid has the right to the leading ministry, which would be the Foreign office. But that has been promised to Netanyahu’s partner, Avigdor Liberman, leader of the ‘Israel Beteinu’ party (‘Our home, Israel’) and current foreign mininster. He, however, has first to prove himself innocent of some financial corruption charges – which might actually happen.


The justice ministry already went to Tsipi Livni, who slyly agreed 2 weeks ago to join whatever coalition Netanyahu forms, as long as she gets that position. A promise is a promise.

Finance is the other biggy – and no one wants that, as difficult economic times are expected. Lapid has been offered this, but he’d be a fool to take it. That position would be more ideal for Bennett, who has business acumen. But Lapid must be seen to be receiving ‘an important portfolio’. Interior? Perhaps.

It’s all wheeling-dealing..


The Palestinian problem has ben shoved to the sidelines. If there is somewhere that Bennett and Lapid disagree, it is here. Bennett is definitely more right-wing, actually wanting to annex a large part of the Occupied West Bank. In fact, he is one of the many who insist on calling the area Judaea and Samaria, part of the Land of Israel.


He supports the settlers and their rights. Lapid does not. He believes in the more moderate 2-state solution and a land-swap. But as the Palestinians are nowhere near coming to the table, this is, for the time being, a non-issue.

Priorities are definitely socio-economic.

Even Iran can wait. (I hear Ahmadinejad ends his rule in June anyway).


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