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Israel’s president wants an end to ‘boycotts’ in political horsetrading — except of Palestinians

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The news out of Israel is that the President Reuven Rivlin has turned from Benjamin Netanyahu to Benny Gantz to form the next government, and in doing so said sharply that he wants Israeli politicians to cease “boycotts” of one another, as Ellie Hochenberg translated the word on i24 News yesterday. The Jerusalem Post said Rivlin came out against “disqualifications” of possible partners.

Israeli reports said that Rivlin’s comment was aimed at the bars that Israeli centrists announced during the campaign– against serving with Netanyahu’s group, because he faces indictment, or serving with rightwing religious parties, because they are secularists. “These are fateful days,” Rivlin said. Time to put politics aside.

Gantz has already reached out to the far-right apartheid-supporter Bezalel Smotrich. And to Netanyahu too. Gantz said he will also meet with the Arab parties. But no one expects him to suspend the promises he made not to make a government with the Palestinian parties.

In fact, if there is any horsetrading with the Palestinian politicians, it will be to use them as a threat so as to make rightwing politicians abandon Netanyahu.

Gantz’s most likely path to becoming prime minister– says the Israel Policy Forum’s podcast– is to threaten to form a minority center-left Jewish government dependent on Palestinian votes, so that he crushes Netanyahu’s defense line and ends up with a majority right government.

How does that work? Gantz assembles a government of the 44 seats represented by his own party, Blue and White (33), along with the Democratic Union and Labor/Gesher parties (11) further to the left, and he gets the nod to become prime minister with the outside voting support of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beteinu (8) and the Joint Arab List (13). That’s enough seats, 65, to block a no-confidence vote from Netanyahu’s bloc of 55 rightwing seats; and Gantz would be able to form a temporary new government that has the approval of a majority, if not the participation of Lieberman or the Joint List in the actual government.

The leader of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, says he would be “honored” to be part of Gantz’s blocking vote, in order to get rid of Netanyahu.

“Netanyahu has been hammering this home… that Gantz is looking to form a government with the Arab parties, something that Gantz definitely isn’t looking for, but in terms of forming a government, if this could work, if Lieberman would be open to it, I think it is one of [Gantz’s] only options,” Eli Kowaz of Israel Policy Forum says. “If it was difficult and impossible for Netanyahu, it’s not going to be much easier for Gantz.”

Evan Gottesman of the IPF podcast says this threat might be enough to crumble the pact Netanyahu made of 55 rightwing legislators, to stick by him.

“It would seem that in doing something like that Gantz and his partners would be putting a lot of pressure on Likud,” he says. “Gantz isn’t looking for a coalition with the Arab parties. He’s not necessarily against a coaliton with Labor and the Democratic Union, but he sees his natural partners as being Likud, without Netanyahu… And for Likud, they don’t want to see a government with these leftwing parties. And that would probably put a lot of pressure within Likud to get Netanyahu out, if he’s the only thing that’s preventing them from having a center-right or rightwing government.”

So when the rightwing sees that a kindred spirit — Benny Gantz — is in danger of forming a center-left government with the passive support of the Arabs (!), finally Netanyahu’s loyalty oath crumbles. And then members of Likud and the orthodox finally break their pact with Netanyahu to keep him as prime minister– and some rush into a Gantz governing coalition.

So Gantz ends up with a majority rightwing government with the support of Likud members. Which is what he wanted all along, Blue/White + Likud – Netanyahu.

“Just imagine… how lawmakers in Likud would react to such a reality,” Kowaz says of the Joint List participating in such a blocking position. “It wouldn’t look good for Netanyahu to say the least.”

There’s one impediment to this scenario: Lieberman would have to agree to be in an outside voting bloc with Palestinians, whom he has repeatedly smeared and threatened in his political life, and vowed that he won’t work with. But Lieberman would only have to make that pledge provisionally/tactically, as a threat to work with the Palestinians, and then Likud would crumble.

You will notice in this scenario, the Arabs are pawns. No one wants them. Everyone has vowed not to make a government with them. They are boycotted by any Jewish ruling coalition. That’s how the Jewish state works. Even when you need their political seats– because Palestinians in Israel can vote– they’re not allowed anywhere near power.

And yes, I will eat my hat if Gantz surprises me and truly reaches out to the Palestinians.

Notice when the New York Times covered this possible outcome, it did so with only glancing reference to Palestinian parties, no sense of how anathema Palestinian power is inside the Israeli system. The political paralysis in Israel is cited by analysts the Times quotes as a mere tic in democracy. “Some likened it to a muscle cramp that will eventually subside. Others to a computer virus, but not a fatal one.” (“Just a normal democracy,” as Donald Johnson says. “If Israel were an official enemy–Chomsky’s phrase– like Iran or Venezuela there’d be all sorts of references to their human rights violations, real or alleged.”)

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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10 Responses

  1. Misterioso on October 25, 2019, 9:27 am

    One murderous thug out, another one takes his place. “Israel” is a mess and its only gonna’ get worse, much worse!!

    • Mooser on October 25, 2019, 12:40 pm

      “One murderous thug out, another one takes his place.”

      Oh, no rush. Who needs a functioning government when so much can be done ‘during the interim’, and responsibility effaced? I’m sure Israel will not miss this opportunity.

  2. Misterioso on October 25, 2019, 9:54 am

    A day in the life of a Palestinian:

    VIDEO: “Palestinian Forced to Demolish Home in Jerusalem” IMEMCnews, Oct. 22/19

    “A Palestinian resident of the Jabal al Mukabbir neighborhood, in East Jerusalem, tore down his home after he received a demolition order from the Israeli authorities, said a local official.

    “Fateh movement’s secretary general in Jabal al-Mukabbir, Iyad Bashir, told WAFA that Sultan Bashir got the demolition order for his 50-square-meter house a month ago, under the pretext of proximity to the US embassy, which is illegally located in Jerusalem.

    “Bashir was forced to demolish his own house to avoid paying exorbitant costs, should the Israeli West Jerusalem municipality have to carry out the task.”

  3. James Canning on October 25, 2019, 10:45 am

    Sometimes it is best for small steps to be taken, before larger strides later.

    • Mooser on October 25, 2019, 8:01 pm

      “Sometimes it is best for small steps to be taken, before larger strides later.”

      Absolutely. And after all the baby steps,the two-tiered legal system, the occupation, the small step of refusing to form a government with the Palestinians, and then some big steps!

  4. wondering jew on October 25, 2019, 3:58 pm

    If Gantz had enough votes to his left, he would use the Joint List to create his government, but he does not. Since they are not enough to give him the Knesset, he must use them as pawns to get someone else to give him the Knesset. It is the weakness of Gantz that forces him to use them merely as pawns and not as “partners” as in voting bloc partners rather than government partners.

    Israel is still defining itself (as seen in the nation state law of last year), which indicates insecurity and given the fact that it is intimately connected to the west bank and also quite firmly connected to gaza, there are real reasons why it is still busy defining itself. as such, zionism is an important aspect to Israeli politics and those who wish to define israel as something other than a Jewish state are trying to define Israel away from its Jewishness and as such they are opposed.

    • Mooser on October 25, 2019, 7:57 pm

      “those who wish to define israel as something other than a Jewish state are trying to define Israel away from its Jewishness”

      So Israel’s “Jewishness” basically consists of excluding Palestinians.
      What an accomplishment for our ancient and revered religion.

    • eljay on October 25, 2019, 10:14 pm

      || wondering jew: … Israel is still defining itself … ||

      Unfortunately it is still defining itself as a deliberately and unapologetically colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

      || … zionism is an important aspect to Israeli politics … ||

      Jewish supremacist ideology is “an important aspect” to the politics of a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”. Imagine that.

      || … and those who wish to define israel as something other than a Jewish state are trying to define Israel away from its Jewishness … ||

      In one brief sentence you manage to both promote your preferred brand of supremacism and anti-Semitically conflate Israel with all Jews. Truly impressive, y.f.

  5. just on October 26, 2019, 7:09 pm

    In another brave showing of ‘democracy’ and enlightenment for the apartheid state, and in order to teach their children well:

    “Israel’s Civics Exam to Require Students to Memorize Controversial Nation-state Law
    Meanwhile, the concept of a multicultural state, which appears in the curriculum, will not be studied for the next two years

    A few days before the start of the school year the Education Ministry published a new civics teacher’s guide, which deals, among other things with the separation between the rule of law and human rights. Another new teacher’s guide deals with the nation-state law.

    A few days after it was published, the ministry official in charge of civics studies informed teachers that all students taking the matriculation exam in civics this summer will be tested on their knowledge of the details of three clauses in the nation-state law. And while the students must learn those clauses by heart, they are not required to study the controversy surrounding the law.

    According to another ministry announcement, the concept of a multicultural state, which appears in the curriculum, will not be studied for the next two years.

    “Instead of talking about the dilemmas, the preference is for students to regurgitate the material. A good citizen is perceived as a threat, and multiculturalism is a bad word altogether,” one veteran civics teacher from the south said.

    Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer of the Hebrew University and the Israel Democracy Institute says the new guide “distorts the essence of democracy by restricting it to majority rule.” …

    According to an individual who until recently worked in the Education Ministry, the new guide is intended to undermine the importance that once, not too long ago, had been attributed to protecting human rights. “The message is that the laws don’t have to be just and moral, and that the government can pass laws that infringe on democratic values and still be considered democratic.” …”

    more @


  6. aloeste on October 29, 2019, 5:30 pm

    the fact that Odeh refused to separate out the virulent antizionist parties from his coalition make them joining impossible. no more than your Abbas adding Habayit Hayehudi to his ruling junta

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