A balanced view of the situation – opinion


Since the government was formed three weeks ago, I find myself spending many hours watching and listening to the plenary debates on the Knesset channel, in an attempt to create such a balanced picture for myself. happening in Israeli politics in general, and in the Knesset in particular, to the extent possible.

There is no doubt that what is happening is very irregular, given that Israel is (still) a liberal parliamentary democracy, and although the fault is not exclusively that of the Jewish opposition parties, and both sides should take stock, the strategy adopted by the opposition (i.e. Netanyahu) to constantly delegitimize the government and label it fraudulent and dangerous, and to its leaders – in particular Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the Prime Minister Deputy and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid – like hypocrites, corrupt and liars, frequently makes it very difficult to have a reasonable debate on anything.

During the Knesset sitting on June 28, MP Yoav Kisch (Likud) embarked on a long harangue in which he attacked Lapid, declaring: “You are the mother of the corrupt, you invented the word ‘liar ‘. You are a hypocrite.

What specifically did he accuse the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Prime Minister of? He accused him of calling the concept of acting prime minister of the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition “corrupt and a deal among thieves,” while assuming the title himself in his deal with Bennett. He also accused Lapid of referring to the extended “Norwegian law” in the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition agreement (which allowed many ministers and deputy ministers to resign from the Knesset and next in their respective lists to enter the Knesset as a full member). MP’s time) as proof that the government has detached itself from economic reality, creating unnecessary jobs at enormous cost to the public, but accepting even more extreme “Norwegian law” in its deal with Bennett.

Does that make him a corrupt liar and a hypocrite? No, it just means that he expresses what he thinks instantly, without filter, and without taking into account the fact that circumstances may change, and sometimes it is better to be silent.

Another problem is the unbridled attacks by ultra-Orthodox parties on the government. Without any exceptions, all Haredi MPs attack the government mercilessly and without borders, sometimes even completely ridiculing themselves, like when MP Moshe Gafni blamed the current outbreak of the corona pandemic on the new government.

While secular society certainly has reason to be fed up with haredi pooping by many of them COVID-19 regulations, and their refusal to be equal partners in Israeli society, haredi deputies have also reasons to be upset and angry.

They are upset to find themselves in the opposition.

They are angry with Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana (Yamina) for seeking to weaken the ultra-Orthodox and strengthen the national-religious in the religious establishment.

They are angry with Lapid for his policy vis-à-vis the Haredim when he was Minister of Finance in the years 2013-2015.

They are furious at current Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman for his view that Haredim should spend time in opposition – away from power and undue influence over government policy.

Liberman’s response, when asked in a TV interview just before the last election whether he would rather see Netanyahu impeached, or not sit in a government with the Haredim, that “I would take the Haredim, with Bibi, in a wheelbarrow at the nearest dump ”was undoubtedly unworthy.

Nonetheless, the Haredim need not worry about the budgets of their institutions and yeshiva students, as the government would like their votes for the approval of the 2021-2022 budget, when it is submitted in the next three months.

Then there are some Mizrahi deputies (mainly of Moroccan origin), from Likud but also from Shas, who attack the “left Ashkenazi” of the new government for their racist and elitist character. MP David Amsalem goes so far as to claim that they are the most violent and corrupt members of the population, providing false arguments and “data” to prove his point.

Left-wing Ashkenazim are arguably no saints, and there is a great deal of hypocrisy among them when it comes to the Mizrahim – but no more so than among the Ashkenazi Likudniks.

I DO NOT believe that the coalition can convince the opposition to change their policies by changing their own conduct in the Knesset, and since the opposition is unlikely to succeed in overthrowing the government in the near future, there is no no rush for her to do it. However, he has a responsibility to try to lower the flames, and I have a feeling that he made major mistakes in staffing senior positions in the Knesset.

For example, Mickey Levy of Yesh Atid as a speaker is not an ideal choice. As a backbench MP he was very rowdy and unruly, although since his election to the presidency he has assumed an air of regal decorum and apparently goes to great lengths to engage with some of the more rowdy members and the most vocal of the opposition.

The best choice would have been MK Meir Cohen, also of Yesh Atid. As Vice President, Cohen, who was born in Morocco, has always had a soft voice, patient and able to lower the flames. The other day, as Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, he came to the plenum to answer questions, and a dialogue he held with MP Itamar Ben-Gvir – which raised a thorny problem – was relaxed, civilized and productive. Some opposition members have asked him to change sides. They like it.

Cohen’s candidacy for president was thwarted due to accusations of sexual harassment brought against him by several women during his time as mayor of Dimona. He was never tried, but a cloud remains above his head, and the coalition apparently feared a feminist backlash (despite the nine women in ministerial positions).

However, the biggest mistake was to appoint MP Idit Silman from Yamina as chair of the coalition and the Knesset Arrangements Committee. Silman is a relatively new and inexperienced MP, and although she seems unfazed, she lacks the know-how to handle an unruly group of MPs determined to disrupt the work of the Knesset, with minimal backlash.

Silman is assisted by Yesh Atid’s MP Boaz Toporovsky, who has just a little more parliamentary experience than she is and is rather arrogant in his demeanor.

I think if the coalition wanted a woman to speak, maybe Merav Ben-Ari of Yesh Atid, who was Kulanu MP in the 20th Knesset, would have been a better choice. However, Bennett insisted that the post be filled with a Yamina member, even though he has few available MPs at his disposal, and none with experience. What a pity.

The strangest phenomenon in the plenum these days is the leader of Ra’am, MK Mansour Abbas, who has been chosen as one of the Knesset vice-presidents.

The sessions he chairs are generally calm and orderly. Although many members of the opposition see him as a fifth column that supports terrorists and seeks to destroy Israel as a Jewish state, they are inclined to call him “Israel’s interim prime minister.” If insults are thrown at him, he remains jaded and responds pragmatically.

The man appears to have the skin of an elephant, which serves him and the Knesset well in these stormy days.

The writer was a researcher at the Knesset Research and Information Center until her retirement, and recently published a book in Hebrew, The Job of the Knesset Member – an Undefined Job, which will soon be published in English by Routledge. .



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