Israel, “Circle the Bloody Wagons Already”!

Personal disclosure: I have never voted for Bibi, and I detest his appealing to fat cats for gallons of expensive champaign and boxcars of Cuban cigars. Moreover, the discrediting of Israel’s legal system by him and his minions is disgusting. Yet, at the same time, I still believe that he is a true Israeli patriot – he served in the IDF special forces unit Sayeret Matkal and risked his life in defense of the Jewish state. Bibi is also probably the foremost orator in the English language on the international stage, where he has defended Israel against the avalanche of anti-Israeli vilification, starting with the UN, BDS, through to J-Street. This is not to say that the Jewish state is not deserving of criticism kike any other. But it has reached and surpassed all decent limits, such as in Britain’s labor party. But like the vast majority of Israelis, who have fought and been prepared to die in Israel’s defense, the time has come to stand up and speak out – there is a dire need for a national unity government!.

The Jewish state has been bogged down after two successive elections that have barred both the Likud and Blue and White from forming a new coalition government. For over eight months, the Jewish state has wallowed in political never-land without a government empowered to make dramatic decisions, such as drafting a new national budget. But now, almost overnight, this standoff has been dramatically shaken and gone from bad to worse. 

Just take a look at yesterday’s headlines: Iran has announced it has activated its underground Fordo uranium enrichment facility that remained idle since the GCPOA in 2015. The experts tell us that the only reason for reactivating Fordo is to eventually produce sufficient weapons-grade uranium to arm nuclear missiles. Moreover, Iran has also been surrounding the Jewish state with military proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and now Yemen, as well as with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza strip.

Israel’s hospitals may collapse this winter

Meanwhile, on the domestic scene, the 45 directors of the country’s hospitals have warned that their facilities may “collapse” this winter if there is not urgent financing to cope with an annual increase of influenza patients. The hospitals are already functioning well over 100% capacity with patient beds lining the corridors. The problem is that the cabinet is not empowered to allocate new expenditures since the decision to go to an early election over eight months ago. In short, the Israeli government is paralyzed in the face of Iran starting to break out for nuclear weapons, and hospitals are about to collapse if they do not receive immediate financial aid. This intolerable situation goes right down the line, with all government programs on hold (all government institutions do receive a monthly allocation of 1/12 of last year’s annual budget, but naturally, cannot cope with such situations, as the country’s hospitals).

The “startup” nation is permanently out to lunch while the politicians bicker over who is to go first as the new prime minister – Benny Gantz or the incumbent Bibi Netanyahu. (Gantz won more Knesset seats than Bibi in the latest election on September 17th by 33-32). but so far, neither Bibi nor Benny has been able to cobble together the required 61-seat coalition majority in the 120-member Knesset.  

This intolerable political mess comes against the backdrop of a pending decision by Attorney General Mandleblitt as to whether or not to indict Netanyahu for fraud and breach of trust. It gets worse, or better, according to your political leaning. If Bibi is charged, he will not be barred from serving as Prime Minister, even while being tried in a court of law. Moreover, Bibi and his cohorts have been waging a smear campaign against Israel’s police and legal system, claiming that Bibi is being framed with the aid of the media. Netanyahu is also facing several state witnesses against him, and even his own personal recordings of shady dealings with the media owner, Yoni Moses, in which they discussed more favorable coverage of Bibi in return for Moses’ media outlets profiting by such a deal. Netanyahu does not deny all of the allegations; he simply argues that friends are allowed to give gifts as long as they do not receive preferential treatment in return. Similarly, he denies any attempt to suborn part of the media contending that other politicians have also tried to do so. In other words, everybody does it, yet he is being unduly persecuted and prosecuted. 

Whether or not you agree with Netanyahu’s decision, the fact is that his Likud colleagues and supporters genuinely agree with him. They contend that, if at all, Bibi may have committed misdemeanors, certainly not sufficient to depose him as PM in light of his lifetime service to the country. 

Bibi is now fighting for his political life and his place in Israel’s history. He could very well end up behind bars or be forced to seek an ignominious plea bargain. Therefore, it is vital for him, if Mandelblitt does decide to prosecute, that he go to court in the mantle of PM rather than the far-less distinguished roll of a mundane cabinet minister or leader of the opposition. Clearly, the stakes are incredibly high for him. 

The current standoff or the possibility of a third general election within a year is causing grave damage. It could endanger Israel’s national unity in light of the looming Iranian threat of war with the Jewish state. Then again, if Gantz also fails to form a new coalition and Israelis, again, go to the polls, who’s to say that the election result will be any different than it is now? In our view, there is another consideration if Netanyahu’s Likud loses, and Blue and White form a new government after a third consecutive ballot. Many, or maybe all of Bibi’s rightwing supporters, are likely to believe that their man was framed through the collusion of a biased justice system and anti-Likud media. This at a time when there is a dire need for national unity. 

Therefore, IsraCast is of the view that its’ high time “to circle the wagons”! When all things are considered, Blue and White should agree to let Netanyahu carry on as Prime Minister of a national unity cabinet between the two parties in the first two years of a four-year rotation. Gantz would become a Defense Minister with an inner security cabinet composed of an equal number of Likud and Blue and White ministers. In the event of a tie on a security issue, the IDF Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, who has earned a sterling reputation, would cast a deciding vote. 

Although Blue and White would be conceding the first crack at the top position, the Israeli public at large would credit Gantz and his party with acting patriotically and in the national interest. And likewise, Bibi’s ardent supporters would feel that their man was given a fair shake and not railroaded by Israel’s legal system, which they consider to harbor left-wing leanings. 

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