By James Marlow
It is still unclear whether there will be an early Israel general election over a coalition disagreement regarding strictly Orthodox military enlistment. But one thing is certain – if there is, it will likely be the dirtiest election in history and there have been some real ugly ones in the past.
The opposition parties will claim that Netanyahu is corrupt and is destroying the country. The Likud will say that security can only be guaranteed with a government led by Bibi and that containing Iran is essential. While in a bid to gain more Knesset seats, Naftali Bennet’s Bayit Yehudi party will condemn the Likud for not agreeing to apply Israeli law in the main Jewish community bloc’s in Judea and Samaria.
The overwhelming majority of the press will continue to mudsling against the Prime Minister while all pollsters will put the Likud on more seats than any other party – proving once again that the public refuse to be influenced by police leaks or the press.
The Likud will attack the media and police. The Left will slam Netanyahu, his wife and son and call him an opponent of peace, Arabs and basic freedoms. Everything will be fair game and nothing will be off limits as the politicians from across the spectrum will try to divide and spread false allegations. They will separate the religious from the secular and the settlers from those who live in and around Tel Aviv and all of this could bring serious long-term damage to Israeli society.
But the problem is the Israeli press generally do not push the politicians on what they would do if they were in power, unlike in the UK where top journalist take-apart those wishing to lead and really scrutinise their financial figures and ideas one by one.
The coalition crisis is over Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman and his secular Yisrael Beytenu party against a three-part bill issued by the strictly Orthodox United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, avoiding army service in favour of full time Yeshiva Torah learning.
But Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon who heads the Kulanu party is eager to get approval for the 2019 state budget which means all coalition parties have to vote together as the government only has a 5-seat majority.
UTJ says it will refuse to vote for the budget if their bill is not approved and Lieberman says he and his party will quit the government if the 3-part bill is approved. Meanwhile Kahlon says he will pull his Kulanu party out of the coalition if the bill is not passed by early next week.
Zionist Union support holding elections which were not due until 2019 even though they have poor showings in the polls. Yesh Atid is likely to be a winner if there is an early election as Lapid is likely to double his seats but according to the polls will still struggle to put together a coalition.
Ahmed Tibi pointed out that Ramadan is May 15 to June 14 so having an election on
June 26 which is the date being suggested would be unfair to Muslims, although few know why. But strangely enough, the supreme court would likely agree.
On the other hand, Bayit Yehudi, Kulanu and Shas have hinted they do not want elections in June which will be just one month after Shavuot.
Then there is the historic summer visit of Prince William and his family.
One thing is for sure, an election is coming and when it does, it will either solidify Netanyahu’s leadership like no Israeli politician before him or turn a page in history with Netanyahu removed from office and a new politician elected to lead the country.