As the dust settles from the election, it appears that once again Netanyahu and his right-wing bloc do not have a majority. Despite his impressive personal achievement, as of this writing Netanyahu did not win.
This is the third time in a year that there is no majority among the voting public and the Knesset for a government composed of the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties. In fact, this is the second time in a row that there appears to be a majority in the public and the Knesset against such a government.
Bibi limps to election 'victory.' But he didn't win
If the final election results show that the camp which aspires to bring the Netanyahu government to an end has won 61 or more Knesset seats, the possibility of executing a narrow, focused political move to establish “the removal government” could be considered. Such a move would be based on the common interest of the leaders of Kahol Lavan, Labor-Gesher-Meretz, Yisrael Beitenu and the Joint List, and on carrying out the shared wish of their voters.
Such a government would not be formed to govern, but to end Netanyahu’s rule, to untie the political knot and follow through on the wishes of a majority of Israelis. It would be a government that was formed for a limited period of 100 days, and would operate in accordance with a bare-bones coalition agreement that could be quickly and easily implemented: Benny Gantz will be prime minister. The government will be a “government of experts” who are not politicians and will concern itself only with managing the daily affairs of state.
The coalition will pass legislation banning any MK under indictment from serving as prime minister, and will limit a prime minister to serving two consecutive terms. The coalition will pass five laws that will fulfill some of the different parties’ election promises – civil marriage, public transportation on Shabbat, revoking the minimarket law, revoking the Kaminitz law (that stiffened penalties for illegal building), and institute a program to reduce violence in the Arab communities.
At the end of the 100 days, a national unity government would be established with every party that wishes to be a part of it. If such a government is not formed within 30 days, the Knesset will be disbanded and an election will be held. A move of this kind was on the table after the September election, but neither Kahol Lavan nor Yisrael Beitenu were politically prepared then to pursue it. Now this possibility has opened up again, under less favorable conditions.
A removal government like this is not natural. Establishing it would be an unprecedented move in the country’s history. It would require Gantz, Avigdor Lieberman, Amir Peretz and Ayman Odeh to be willing to make big compromises, but it would also grant them major achievements. And most importantly – these four leaders and their factions have no better option right now.
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In the past two days, there have been signs that perhaps this time that understanding is sinking in. Gantz is talking about expedited legislation that would prohibit a prime minister under indictment from continuing in office, and Lieberman is talking about a move that would avert a fourth election and lead to Netanyahu’s ouster.
Their ringing failure at the polls put Gantz and Co. into a funk and a state of confusion verging on paralysis. This is a justified, natural human reaction, but it is not helpful and is unfitting, given the situation the country is in. Political leaders who are committed to working on their voters’ behalf do not have the privilege of wallowing. They must consider the political reality with a cold eye and extract the maximum from it. That is exactly what Benjamin Netanyahu would do.
Barak Ravid is the diplomatic commentator for Channel 13 News.