September 19, 2019

Israeli Leftists Should Embrace Bibi

“Israeli politics has become a la-la land. First came the clashing victory declarations by Blue and White Party chair Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately after the polls closed on April 9. It was followed by a reasonable assessment that the political right would be able to form a coalition government with the ultra-Orthodox parties and the far-right Israel Power Party. Then Netanyahu’s on-again, off-again ally Avigdor Liberman flipped from total loyalty to Netanyahu and joined the “anyone but Netanyahu” camp. Without Liberman and given Netanyahu’s refusal to allow anyone else from his party to form a government, Netanyahu engineered the disbanding of the just-sworn-in Knesset and set new elections for Sept. 17.

On June 25, with polls that Netanyahu commissioned showing that the elections for the 22nd Knesset could cost him his job at the worst possible time, Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein came up with an idea straight out of a Federico Fellini script: revoke the law dissolving the Knesset and form a national unity government led by Netanyahu and Gantz.

As of June 30, this option does not appear feasible. Elections have never been held in Israel so soon after a new Knesset was inaugurated, and no one has ever tried to rescind a law disbanding the Knesset after it was adopted lawfully in three readings. Israeli law does not explicitly cover such circumstances and experts are divided on the move’s legality and on the number of votes that would be required for it to pass. According to Edelstein, since 74 of 120 Knesset members approved the dissolution bill on May 29, a larger number would be required to rescind it. Legal advisers argue that the move would not withstand Supreme Court scrutiny because the dissolution and scheduling of new elections have already set in motion a series of irreversible procedures. It appears there is no way to stuff the genie back into the bottle.”

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