Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Blue and White: A list designed to dupe - Dr. Eithan Orkibi

by Dr. Eithan Orkibi

The members of the center-left list under Benny Gantz can't even agree where they stand on fundamental issues. How can Blue and White lead a government comprised of partners whose ideologies fundamentally contradict each other's?

'The decade during which I have been PM has been the most peaceful'
Blue and White co-counders Gabby Ashkenazi, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya'alon | Photo: Yossi Zeliger

The diplomatic, social, and economic achievements of the Netanyahu government in the term that preceded the current year of elections are due in a major part to the ideological coherence and underlying agreement between the coalition partners. The bloc of 55 MKs reflected real governing harmony. The agreement about the government's goals prompted the government to make decisions and position the country to leap forward in every field.

Blue and White is the complete negative to this picture, and that needs to be said out loud. Internal contradictions in the party have popped up every day in the year the list has existed. Often, they reach absurd proportions. Every day, one representative of the party or another appears on TV to correct what another one said previously. Ram Ben Barak promises to fix the nation-state law, and the next day Zvi Hauser declares that the nation-state law will not be changed. Yael German announces that we will have to implement "a kind of separation" from the Palestinians, and the next day Yoaz Hendel makes it clear that Israel will annex the Jordan Valley immediately.

These are not internecine debates between different camps who share a common worldview. It's not a dispute between two branches of the Labor Party. These are serious disagreements that have always divided Israeli political debate. On what can Blue and White leader Benny Gantz base a proposal for national reconciliation when his own party is incapable of reaching a minimal consensus about the party's stance on issues that are splitting society?

The utopian ideal we saw at the celebration on Saturday night that marked the end of the party's official campaign cannot cover up the rifts that have already been exposed – the distress overshadows the euphoria. What will happen if this total discord comes to the cabinet? What decisions can be made in light of such seriously polarized ideology? Not only can't Blue and White bring about national reconciliation, it will bring the disputes to the cabinet and turn the place where national decisions are made into a conflict zone. This is a sure recipe for bringing the government to a halt and making the ongoing political impasse worse. Blue and White will drag the executive branch of the government into the crisis.

This defect looks even worse when we consider the coalition partnerships – Labor-Gesher-Meretz on one side, and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman on the other – all of which would depend on the Joint Arab List. The underlying principles of each part of such a coalition are an egregious violation of the underlying principles of the others. Can anyone seriously think that a cabinet that included Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg would apply Israeli sovereignty outside the Green Line? Can anyone imagine a preemptive strike in the Gaza Strip under a threat of a no-confidence move by Joint Arab List leader Ayman Odeh? Can anyone imagine Avi Nissankoren and Amir Peretz agreeing to economic reforms? Of course not.

Ultimately, the "way out of the impasse" that Benny Gantz is suggesting – either in the form of a minority government, or if a miracle occurs and the center-left bloc wins 60 seats without the Joint Arab list – is a dupe.

We must not let lovely talk about "unity" and "progress" fool us. The last Netanyahu government gave Israel an unprecedented display of progress and development, and it did so because of its ideological alignment. The harm of a fractured government under Blue and White is a sure recipe for stagnation, and the damage it would do could be much more destructive to the nation and to our society than what is caused by a passing political crisis.

Dr. Eithan Orkibi

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/03/02/blue-and-white-a-list-designed-to-dupe/

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