Editorial

Kahol Lavan Goes AWOL

File photo: Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid attend a Kahol Lavan press conference, Tel Aviv, March 18, 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

This week, two months after the election, the public got a glimpse behind the scenes of the main opposition party, Kahol Lavan, which is seeking the voters’ trust again in the second round, asking them to place the country’s fate in its hands.

In an interview with Army Radio, Maj. Gen. (res.) Giora Rom described what it was like being the opposition candidate for state comptroller: “In the post mortem, as I summed up for myself these two weeks, I said – What is Kahol Lavan? And the image that came to mind was that [bumbling] army unit in [the comedy] ‘Givat Halfon Doesn’t Answer.’”

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Rom, who lost out in the vote to coalition candidate Matanyahu Englman, said the whole process was characterized “by superficiality verging on contempt” and that “throughout the process no one inquired about my positions, my opinions, how I view the job.” He also said that he called members of Kahol Lavan, but that no one got back to him, and that the only MK who did contact him of her own accord was Gila Gamliel of Likud.

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There was no such complacency in the opposite camp. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with dozens of MKs and asked them to vote for Englman and even convened the Likud faction to ensure that all of the party MKs would vote for him.

Rom’s account echoes that of retired Supreme Court Justice Ayala Procaccia who, as reported recently in Haaretz, had voiced interest in running for the position of state comptroller. The message was relayed to the Kahol Lavan Knesset faction, but no one got in touch with her. Also, back in April, neither Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz nor leading party figure Gabi Ashkenazi bothered to attend the seminar for new MKs, meant to prepare them for working in the Knesset.

Taken together, these reports paint an unflattering picture of an amateurish, disorganized, lazy opposition party. Despite the military background of some of its leaders, formulating a strategy and pursuing it with determination and consistency doesn’t appear to be the party’s modus operandi.

The comptroller appointment was decided by an anonymous vote, and had it taken its job seriously, the opposition would have had a chance of winning. The Likud went to war. Kahol Lavan didn’t even show up for the battle.

Before asking voters to task them with forming the next government, Kahol Lavan’s leaders need to wake up and get to work. However it may appear, Israeli politics is not a comedy and they were not elected to play it for laughs.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.