This Time, Lapid, Just Don’t Get in the Way

If Lapid prevents a government of Herzog, Kahlon and the Haredim, the system will once again align itself – unwillingly – in favor of Netanyahu.

Emil Salman

On the previous election night Yair Lapid could have worked with a bloc of parties. Instead, he chose to play solo, to lash out at the “Zoabis” and transfer hundreds of thousands of center-left voters to a “Jewish brothers” alliance. That is how he forced Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and brought in Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) as the housing minister for the settlements. There is a danger that despite the growing public disgust with Netanyahu’s rule, Lapid will once again bring about the coronation of Netanyahu-Bennett.

Lapid says that he will do everything possible to prevent Netanyahu from being prime minister. Lapid doesn’t have to do much. All he has to do is allow Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) to form a coalition, including the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox), rather than standing in his way. Sometimes you have to overcome. Sometimes you have to decide what’s more important.

It’s likely and even crucial that Herzog will win more seats than Netanyahu. It’s likely that disgust with Netanyahu and the cannibalistic capitalism that he imposed on society as a whole, and even on his own home, will ultimately lead to a transfer of more votes to the only person who can beat him – Herzog. How long can those who are unable to purchase a home insist on voting for their exploiter?

It’s also likely that there will be over 61 votes from Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) leftward, that Netanyahu won’t have an extreme right-wing-Haredi government. That’s already the case according to the polls at present, and over time the majority in favor of change will increase even further – and the voters from Kahlon leftward want a change. It’s likely that the voting rates among those who want change, including Arab citizens, will increase. Of course, Meretz also has to pass the electoral threshold. We can’t give up Meretz votes. If Meretz doesn’t pass, there won’t be an upheaval.

If that happens, there will be a majority for replacing Netanyahu. Apparently even Kahlon would prefer joining a centrist civil government that will repair Netanyahu’s cannibalistic capitalism, rather than serving a prime minister who in his personality and his policy is the exact opposite of Kahlon.

In order for that to happen there is a need for one “small” thing: for Lapid to enable a government with the Haredim. Clearly, that is not his heart’s desire. Clearly, it could be hard for him emotionally to allow someone from the non-right to form a government. Clearly, the option of opposition to a right-wing-Haredi government could appeal to him. But there is supposed to be a limit to cynicism.

The damage that Netanyahu is causing Israel - the Israel that doesn’t want to be messianic, racist, anti-democratic, McCarthyist and extreme-capitalist – is so profound that a step that will cause him to remain in power is a crime against democratic Israel.

It’s doubtful whether Lapid will receive the number of seats that he imagines. In the end many voters will realize that in this election it’s important which party is the largest, because these are not the days of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had 61 seats to his left. No side will have 61 seats of genuine supporters, therefore the size of the party is important. This consideration should influence those who are trying to decide between Lapid and Herzog: It’s essential for Herzog’s party to be bigger than Netanyahu’s, preferably by a considerable margin that will grant legitimacy to Kahlon and others to join.

But we can’t replace Netanyahu without Lapid’s decision. If the political system understands that Lapid is locking himself in with declarations that will prevent a government of Herzog-Kahlon and the Haredim, the system will once again align itself – unwillingly – in favor of Netanyahu.

Lapid talks about a war for the good of the country. That won’t happen if he doesn’t allow the upheaval to take place. From the establishment of the state, through the Sinai Campaign, the peace with Egypt, the Oslo Accords and the disengagement from Gaza – all the major dilemmas were decided by the prime minister, for the most part without the ministers’ knowledge. “We have come to bring about a change,” he says this time. This has to mean replacing the prime minister. It’s a matter of survival.

Lapid will therefore have to adopt bloc-oriented behavior and accept concessions to the Haredim; he will have to accept the flow of votes to Herzog, without inciting against him. If he does otherwise and crowns Netanyahu despite the fact that the public did not vote for him, he will be guilty of cooperating with the destruction of Israel.