Opinion |

Time for Lapid to Form a Melting Pot Coalition

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
Yair Lapid.
Yair Lapid.Credit: Dudu Bachar
A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

Caring, polite, fair, keeps his word − these are just a few of the expressions of condolence heard on Monday at the eulogy the media held to mark the death of the government of change − and they reflect the regard for Naftali Bennett no less than for Yair Lapid. Israel resembles someone who spent a year in paradise, and is now sentenced to wear sackcloth, place ashes on its head and pass through the five stages of national grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – and there are some who skip directly to the last stage.

This dark forecast is understandable. Too little time has passed since the rule of the dictator ended. The fresh trauma and terror of his return is greater even than that caused by the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons. But this is exactly the time to shake ourselves up and begin reshaping the new reality.

Yair Lapid, who will become the caretaker prime minister – if an alternative government is not formed – does not need to be a lame duck, a temporary mannequin in the political display window, who merely counts the days to the election. As someone who has crossed all the red lines he himself drew before the previous election − he sat with the “Zoabis” and the Islamic Movement, linked arms with the religious, even cuddled a bit with the Haredim, and danced with the “radical left” – he is very well equipped to build a sturdy political bloc out of the ruins.

He has at his disposal at least three months, which could easily turn into six months, a year or even more, to mount the revolution and build a democratic, liberal, somewhat right-wing, somewhat left bloc with a pinch of religion.

The mold has already been formed in recent years. The necessary and unbearably hard step is not to negotiate over an agreed upon ideology, but to smooth the sharp edges of the egos that punctured the government and left it like a burst balloon. This is the main advantage of such a government and where Lapid’s potential to succeed lies.

This government managed to arise because it was careful to avoid ideology. It did not strive to end the occupation. It angered the settlers and Arabs to more or less the same degree. It ran an effective foreign policy and for a relatively long time it granted its ministers a feeling of independence and dignity, instead of the disdain and disgust that Netanyahu displayed toward even the ministers closest to him – whom he turned into eunuchs.

Note carefully, it was not the cabinet ministers or ideology that brought down this government, but the wild weeds with their sizable egos that grew at its margins.

Because this government managed to handle its ideological differences, Lapid can and must now begin the process of forging the parties into larger blocs. Raviv Drucker proposed (in Haaretz Hebrew edition, June 20) the merger of Meretz and Labor. This is a start, but it is not enough. Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party has no justification for its independent existence. Ideologically (as far as it has an ideology) it can merge with Yesh Atid, with Labor and even with Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope. After all, anyone who was willing to sit with Netanyahu and believe his lies, can adapt himself to any political bloc.

The split among the Arab parties, which saw the United Arab List run separately and its leader Mansour Abbas demonstrate rare political wisdom, led to a Jewish political partnership with an Arab party. Most importantly, it granted the party unprecedented legitimacy that the Joint List can now take advantage of too, if only it has the sense to rejoin ranks with the UAL.

Forging a melting pot of parties is based on the assumption that voters prefer large blocs, over small parties – or fragments of parties. This is the path that Lapid needs to take in order for him to offer the voter a realistic alternative that will be impressive in its size and convincing in its chances of victory. Now only the question of ego remains. Will Merav Michaeli merge with Nitzan Horowitz? Will Ayman Odeh embrace Mansour Abbas and can Benny Gantz see Gideon Sa’ar as his equal? What kind of delusion is this? The answer is that there is no other way.

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