The Likud-Kahol Lavan unity government due to be sworn in on Thursday was born in the sin of the severe crimes of bribery of which Benjamin Netanyahu is accused. This coalition was only made possible by defrauding massive numbers of voters, and even before it has been established, it has already become synonymous with the political system’s breach of the public’s trust.
It is no coincidence that until the moment this government is sworn in, the concern won’t be dispelled that Netanyahu is planning to pull one last Machiavellian move out of his repertoire and retreat from the agreements he has entered into. That would drive the last nail into the coffin of the only governing alternative that he has had for the past 10 years and would lead the State of Israel to a fourth round of elections, devoid of an opposition and in practice with Netanyahu as the only candidate for prime minister.
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That’s how it is when unity is based on a mutual lack of trust and respect. It’s not for nothing that Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz’s resignation as Knesset speaker is accompanied by major concern that his coalition agreement could suddenly “collapse” and that his party would lose its leverage to pressure Netanyahu. It’s difficult to think of a clearer expression of the measure of trust prevailing between the two sides, which will accompany the new government until the moment Netanyahu cedes the prime minister’s position to Gantz. Fear of turning one’s back on Netanyahu for even one moment will be present in this government for its entire term. Those in Kahol Lavan will have to learn to live with that ongoing concern.
But such fear and lack of trust won’t only be the daily fare of the members of the cabinet. The entire public will have to learn to live with this absolute uncertainty when it comes to the government’s motives, in the shadow of doubt that it may not be the national interest that is dictating its actions but rather the legal considerations of the person at its helm.
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This is an undesirable situation for the citizens of any country, at any time and under any circumstances. But in the State of Israel, which at any given time is either before, after or in the midst of a round of hostilities, it involves an explosive and dangerous situation. Even worse, it is coming while the government’s agenda includes a unilateral change to the country’s borders; an initiative that could put an end to the two-state solution – with the ardent encouragement of an irresponsible American president – which is a reckless gamble over the country’s future.
The festive smiles that will be seen on Thursday in the Knesset chamber must not obscure the fact that this is a government of corrupt standards, led by a criminal defendant. Therefore the wishes for success that would have been appropriate to convey to this new government should instead go to the country’s citizens, who now face the unknown.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.