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Drop the Personalized Law

Uzi Baram
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Benny Gantz.
Benny Gantz.Credit: Daniel Bar-On
Uzi Baram

I’ll neither conceal nor deny it: The results of last week’s election raised the curve of despondency and disappointment in Israel. The sanctimonious among us will continue to argue that the differences between Kahol Lavan and Likud are microscopic and that this lack of clarity was the main reason for Kahol Lavan’s relative failure.

But to voters the differences are significant. They don’t do textual comparisons of the parties’ platforms and they aren’t particularly impressed by leaked recordings like the one featuring Israel Bachar. The voters look at the overall picture and place themselves to its right or its left.

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Given this situation, the leaders of the bloc that opposes Benjamin Netanyahu must exercise daring and common sense. The prime minister will wage a holding battle, which will give rise to a controlled escalation: focusing on the sins of Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Lieberman and, more importantly, inflaming the Likud street against the scheme to oust Netanyahu with the aid of the votes of Arab Knesset members. MKs. Facing him are the impassioned opponents, who shout from every stage: Benny Gantz, prove your mettle and use your majority, the 62 lawmakers who don’t want Netanyahu. Some of them add that they must pass a law barring anyone who has been charged with bribery from being prime minister.

But passing such legislation without the establishment of an alternative government will lead Israel into a fourth election, which will be clouded by that personalized law. Those who didn’t learn a lesson from the effect on the public of criminal charges will presumably miss the lesson this time as well.

To my mind, a new government must be formed before this law is passed. Better to establish a government headed by Gantz without the law than to pass a law that doesn’t yield a tangible achievement and will push us toward another election.

Putting together a government will be a convoluted and complicated process, but it’s doable. A new government will establish a permanent fact – Netanyahu is not the prime minister – by means of a legitimate parliamentary decision, rather than a law that appears to be directed at a specific person and perhaps even retroactive.

The new government will almost certainly be a minority government. To launch the process properly, all the parties to which the 62 MKs belong must recommend Gantz as their candidate for prime minister. That alone is not sufficient to ensure that he will get the mandate, since the president will also examine his ability to form a functioning government.

Replacing the speaker of the Knesset is crucial, since Yuli Edelstein is also the leader’s puppet. At the same time, the composition of the Knesset Arrangements Committee, including who will chair it, must be determined. These measures will give expression to the parliamentary majority, which is small but nevertheless does exist.

Gantz must form a government that all 62 MKs will likely support, as the basis for a broader government later on. He must dare to present a government of Kahol Lavan, his own party, that will get the support of 29 other MKs.

Such a government will replace Netanyahu and establish a political fact, after which a law can be passed that prevents a person charged with bribery from serving as prime minister. I have no illusions. The path I’m suggesting will increase social tensions, after years of exhortations against Israel’s Arab community and its elective representatives. But nothing could be more just than to include them in the fabric of the government. It’s not simple, but it’s possible.