Opinion

A Center-left Minority Government Is a Bad Option That Can Save Israel From Itself

It may spark controversy and even civil unrest but it will liberate Israeli democracy and rule of law from Netanyahu’s nefarious designs

President Reuven Rivlin meets with Kahol Lavan's Benny Gantz to hand him the mandate to from a coalition government, October 23, 2019.
Emil Salman

A narrow coalition is problematic enough, but a minority government is double the trouble. Such a government might be hard to topple, because the law requires that 61 Knesset members not only vote against it but also agree on a new prime minister, but it is even more difficult to manage. Even if we assume that Avigdor Lieberman would lend his hand to a government that is supported from the outside by the Joint List, its ability to muster a Knesset majority for any kind of legislation is limited, perhaps non-existent.

Never mind the lunacy that will grip the Israeli right if a “leftist government supported by the Arabs” is established. Such was Yitzhak Rabin’s government after Shas left it in September 1993 in the wake of the Oslo Accords, and we all know how that ended, 25 years ago to the day. In fact, hard as it is to believe, in terms of incitement, division and character assassination, the Rabin era seems today like a tranquil Stone Age: It occurred before the spread of social media and before the right permanently abandoned ideology in favor of mongering hate.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 47Haaretz

Nonetheless, despite the double jeopardy of stilted government and mass unrest, a minority government is essential. If Benny Gantz and Kahol Lavan do not manage to set up a government that enjoys a stable parliamentary coalition, a minority coalition is nothing less than pikuach nefesh, the Jewish edict that sees preservation of life as overriding all but the most sacred of religious rules.

A minority government would salvage Israeli democracy and the rule of law, both of which are under constant threat by Benjamin Netanyahu and his minions. Every day that passes increases the risk to both. Thus, a minority government is also a salvation government, one that would protect the foundations of Israel’s liberal democracy until the danger passes.

A minority government would extricate Israel’s legal system from a minister bent on destroying it. It would save Israeli culture from another minister who seeks to distort it. It would stem the growing tide of anti-democratic legislation in the Knesset. It would arrest Israel’s steady slide into nationalism, ethnocentrism and racism. It would stop Israel’s transformation into a banana republic built on cult of personality and return it to the fold of liberal democratic countries led by mere mortals.

Mainly, it would extricate Netanyahu from the Prime Minister’s Office. It would stop him from turning his august position into a safe haven from the law, the state into his own private fiefdom, democracy into his enemy and the rule of law into a nemesis that needs to be demolished and destroyed. It would stop his relentless harassment of Israel’s gatekeepers along with his blatant efforts to put the fear of Bibi in their hearts. It would expel the clearest and most present danger to Israel’s stability, cohesion and wellbeing.

Despite the uproar and brouhaha that would undoubtedly accompany its establishment, a minority government would bring back sanity to Israel’s public arena, at least for a while. It would place at the country’s head a man who views his position as a public service and not as his perpetual property. It would position at his side strong-willed leaders who will be judged by their performance rather than the current gang of grovelers whose main expertise is in fawning and kowtowing.

A minority government would advance the integration and participation of Israel’s Arab minority. At the same time, if we’re already delving into daydreams, it might very well force Likud in particular and the right in general to take stock and institute change. If the only thing a minority government achieves were the rehabilitation of Likud from its total addiction to Netanyahu and his replacement by a politician willing to play by the rules – never mind joining a Gantz-led government – its establishment would be well worth the trouble.

The prospects that such a government will be established are, admittedly, minuscule or less. Lieberman, who built his career on incitement against Arabs, is loath to appear as their collaborator. Right-wing Kahol Lavan figures such as former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and his colleagues will find it hard to swallow such a bitter pill. They might prefer the uncertainty of a new election to the unequivocal escape hatch right before their eyes. They could go down in history as those who preferred pose and prejudice over the only government that can save Israel from itself.