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National Unity

By       Message Uri Avnery     Permalink
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Reprinted from Gush Shalom

From twitter.com/tparsi/status/577482988994342913/photo/1: Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
(Image by Twitter User keriRN)
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MY FIRST reaction after the election was: "Oh, no! Not a National Unity Government, please!

In my first article after the election, I devoted a large part to the danger of a "national unity" government, though at the time the possibility of such a government, based on Likud and the Labor Party, seemed very remote indeed.

But, looking at the figures, I had a gnawing suspicion: this looks like something that will end with a Likud-Labor combination.

Now, suddenly, this possibility has raised its head. Everybody is talking about it.

All my emotions rebel against this possibility. But I owe it to myself and my readers to examine this option dispassionately. Though pure logic is a rare commodity in politics, let's try to exercise it.

IS A "national unity government" good or bad for Israel?

Let's look at the numbers first.

To form a government in Israel, one needs at least 61 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Likud (30) and Labor (24) have 54 between them. It can be assumed that Binyamin Netanyahu almost certainly wants to renew his party's historic alliance with the two orthodox factions, the Ashkenazi Torah Party (6) and the Oriental Shas (7) -- together 67, quite enough for a stable government.

Netanyahu seems to be determined to add Moshe Kahlon's new party too (10), as a kind of subcontractor for the economy. Together an imposing 77.

Who would be left outside? First of all, the Joint Arab Party (13), whose new leader, Eyman Odeh, would automatically assume the title of "Leader of the Opposition" -- a first for Israel. No Arab has ever held this title, with all its prestige and privileges.

Then there is Meretz (5), reduced to a small leftist voice. And then there are the two extreme rightist parties: the one of Naftali Bennett (reduced to 8) and the even smaller one of Avigdor Lieberman (now a mere 6).

Somewhere in between is the star of the previous elections, Yair Lapid, (now reduced to 11).

The initial prospect seemed to be a far rightist coalition, consisting of Likud, the two orthodox parties, the two far-rightist parties and Kahlon -- altogether 67. (The orthodox refuse to sit with Lapid in the same government.)

These then, with minor variations, are the two options.

WHY DOES Netanyahu prefer -- as it now seems -- the National Unity option?

First of all, he detests his two co-rightists -- Bennett and Lieberman. But you don't have to like someone in order to take them into your government.

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Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)
 

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