Today’s election for the 22nd Knesset gives Israelis another opportunity to end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime, which is beset by corruption and incitement. (For the latest election polls – click here)
The campaign, which began with the Knesset’s dissolution on May 30 and climaxed over the past two weeks, has revealed Netanyahu in all his ugliness: agitating for war, spreading lies, denying the rule of law and the authority of state institutions, and accusing the Arab community of wholesale voter fraud during the April election, while hinting that he won’t accept the results of this election if he loses it. Netanyahu’s conduct shows that there’s no limit to the damage and destruction he’s prepared to cause Israeli democracy just to remain in his position and evade the three indictments pending against him, subject to a hearing.
Replacing Netanyahu requires a blocking majority of 61 MKs who will not support a government he heads and who will force him to yield his seat. The rival candidate, Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz, is more worthy of being prime minister than Netanyahu. While Gantz doesn’t have much political experience, he resisted diving into the sewer into which Netanyahu dragged this election campaign despite the character assassination he was subjected to by Likud. He displayed self-control, restraint, and respect for the state and its threatened institutions.
Voters who want to save Israeli democracy, the rule of law, and civic equality must vote for parties committed to those values: Kahol Lavan, Democratic Union, Labor-Gesher or the Joint List – whose head, Ayman Odeh, presented for the first time terms for supporting Gantz and entering a government led by him, sparking a crucial debate on the role of Arab society in the political system.
But there are two crucial conditions that must be met to form this blocking majority and end the Netanyahu era. The first is that the left-wing Zionist parties – Democratic Union and Labor-Gesher – pass the electoral threshold so their votes don’t go down the drain. Voters deliberating over whether to vote for one of them must consider this need. Even if Amir Peretz erred when he refused a Labor-Meretz union and thus put the entire bloc at risk, this is not the time to punish him.
The second condition is for citizens who want an upset to get out and vote, increasing voter turnout. This is the day for a mass enlistment of Israeli society, Jews and Arabs alike, and for those who cherish democracy, civic equality and freedom of expression, to take advantage of this rare do-over election to go to the polls to end the reign of extreme right-wing government.
Whoever remains at home and shirks his or her civic duty is choosing to perpetuate Netanyahu’s rule.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.
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