November 19, 2019

The Fallacy of a "Unity Government"

“In the next few days, we will hear a great deal about the need for a national unity government comprising both the Likud and Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) parties, if only because it will prove, yet again, impossible to put together a narrow and unstable 61 seat coalition government by either of the two major party leaders. Both Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Gantz are already on record for promoting this solution to the latest electoral stalemate.

The well known mantra, is that “the results of the election show that the people want national unity”.

But this concept and justification of a national unity government is a fallacy. On the contrary, the people have shown that they are split between different perspectives on the major issues which face any future government. United they are not.

Past instances of national unity governments, such as that between the Labor Party of Shimon Peres and the Likud then headed by Yitzhak Shamir, proved to be governments of national paralysis. Neither side could advance any major policy issues as they immediately became neutralised by the other major coalition partner. The Agreements which determined the nature of the Prime Ministerial rotation, the number of ministerial portfolios to be held by each party, and the “no go areas” concerning policy issues, were always worked out in great detail by the respective party’s lawyers (more often than not in the most powerful institution of the time, the law offices of Herzog, Fox and Neeman, the senior partners of which – the Herzog family and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman — represented both major political parties). These agreements determined the limited number of areas within which such governments could act — failure to do so would bring about an end to the government and lead, it was assumed, to new elections which would not necessarily, just like the situation today, result in a different outcome.”

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