Thursday, May 10, 2012

In praise of unity deal

In praise of unity deal

Op-ed: Broad unity government the only way to advance peace process, promote equal draft

The surprise prepared for us early Tuesday by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Chairman (until yesterday) Shaul Mofaz is a good surprise. This is the case not only because the elections – which lacked a clearly defined controversial issue – would have pushed us into an expensive and needless whirlwind.

This is a good surprise for several reasons: Firstly, because this is the only way, with a coalition boasting a majority of almost 100 Knesset members, to legislate two Basic Laws that most Israelis have been seeking for dozens of years now – a law that would regulate the sharing of the army service burden in a wise and just manner, and a law that would change our system of government.

These two laws could not be passed in any coalition premised on religious and ultra-Orthodox parties.

Secondly, because this is the only way, with Prime Minister Netanyahu positioned in the center of the government, to promote some kind of peace process. Up until Tuesday Netanyahu, who delivered the Bar-Ilan speech, was the most leftist member of government. This was also the case within Likud and among top coalition partners Yisrael Beiteinu and the National Religious Party.

No diplomatic process was possible with the prime minister realizing that any concession would topple his government.

Restoring Likud tradition

Thirdly, this is the only way for Netanyahu to bring Likud back to its historical position as a national-liberal centrist party. After what the PM saw earlier at the Likud Convention – a righting event dominated by national-religious activists who naturally belong with the National Religious Party or National Union – he realized that the only way to restore Likud's historic path is via reunification (in a year or a year and a half) with the remnants of Kadima.

Indeed, combining the Likud Central Committee and Kadima Central Committee will reduce the strength of Moshe Feiglin and his comrades.

Fourthly, only a large coalition would enable the government to plan and pass a proper, just and reasonable budget that would address the middle class and not be subjected to pressure by small parties and sectors uninterested in the wellbeing of society as a whole.

So while it is indeed true that Netanyahu and Mofaz did not do a great service to the notion of credibility and public faith in politics, should the two senior figures manage to do at least half of what they promised – an equal IDF draft and a modified system of government – it was worth it.

Moshe Ronen
Published: 05.10.12, 00:44 / Israel Opinion

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