The pistol had only one bullet. Benny Gantz and Avigdor Lieberman had the courage to form a narrow government supported by the Joint List of Arab parties; they would be able to fulfill their main promise to their voters: replacing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They were willing to pay a heavy price and were hoping that after they had lifted Netanyahu’s stranglehold on the country, all would be forgiven and forgotten.
But Orli Levi-Abekasis, a balloon inflated with self-importance, someone devoid of ideology, with no electoral clout, a deceiving scoundrel, robbed the center-left bloc’s voters of this rare opportunity, probably triggering a fourth election. She has buried the chance of replacing Netanyahu for many years and has destroyed his opponents’ bloc.
It’s hard to fathom the shameless cynicism in her announcement Tuesday that she wouldn’t support a government that depends on the votes of the Balad party and the wider Joint List alliance – and this after declaring before the election that she would have no problem with such a government.
Not a shred of truth there, she said last week. “There have been no contacts with any political players; any reports on this matter are only spin.”
Now people are reporting that her brother Jackie was seen emerging from the prime minister’s residence on Balfour Street at about the same time. Is there a link between these two things or was that a coincidence? I don’t really care. Any word from Orli Levi-Abekasis now is worth the same as her political weight – hot air.
Right after the election, when there were suggestions that Levi-Abekasis would defect to Likud, I wrote in this paper that “for hours after she denied this, social media carried an insistent rumor that this would be her next move, saying that certain serious people were repeating this notion for no obvious reason but the obvious one.”
How shameful. Levi-Abekasis spat in Labor chief Amir Peretz’s face and in the face of voters who voted for the Labor-Gesher-Meretz union. With tiny steps, there was growing confidence in the social affairs initiative she and Peretz were leading, a belief in the possibility that in time right-wing voters in Israel’s outskirts would see this party as their home.
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But as with other occasions in her past, it’s now crystal clear that this link-up was merely a tool for sustaining her faltering Gesher party. She has now turned this initiative to rubble as well.
Levi-Abekasis has realized the worst fears about her, though we can’t rule out that these suspicions reflect a hint of racism against her as a Mizrahi Jew.
Still, it’s more important to note that in her refusal to support a government that depends on the Joint List's support, she has reminded everyone about her ease with the nation-state law. She has reminded everyone about the party she was in before she formed Gesher, Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, a party whose leader insisted on calling Arab lawmakers a fifth column.
Irony abounds in Israeli politics: Because Lieberman is the catalyst in the move to end Netanyahu’s rule, Levi-Abekasis is exploiting an opportunity to make political gains while exacting sweet revenge.
Orli Levi-Abekasis has thrown a monkey wrench into the works of a movement that was full of hope for the future. She has destroyed years of work aimed at fighting prejudice against the Arab parties and against Mizrahi Jews. And she alone, with cynicism and opportunism, lacking any real heft, has closed off any chances of replacing Netanyahu. And for that she should be ashamed.