This week’s election in Israel achieved nearly the same result as the election in April. It appears at this point that neither of the major parties will be able to patch together a governing coalition. Let the backroom talks and horse-trading begin.
The way the political systems in Israel and in the U.S. have deteriorated is astounding. No longer is the good of the citizenry a top priority of government. At best, the interest of the people comes in second — perhaps even third.
The primary objectives are a combination of achieving power and influence and then exercising the political grudges some harbor for Prime Minister Netanyahu. If the will of the people was the priority, a strong ruling coalition could be patched together and organized quickly.
At this juncture, the sticking point is the religious parties’ refusal to entertain the idea of yeshiva students performing some degree of national service. For many young people in Israel, this means joining and serving in the IDF. But performing such service can include projects like volunteering in hospitals or nursing homes or caring for the elderly or developmentally disabled.
For the center-left Blue and White party led by former general Benny Gantz and with Netanyahu detractor Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu, the priorities include service for yeshiva students, and permitting mass transit to run countrywide on Shabbos, an allowance for businesses to be open on Shabbos, and offering civil marriage in Israel. The Religious Right will never sanction that change.
One of the ways the widely divergent parties have kept the internal peace over the years was by maintaining the status quo on an array of issues, a key issue being the prevention of national chillul Shabbos.
One of the positive things about this stalemate is that it is an inopportune time for President Trump to introduce his proposed peace deal. As of press time, Blue and White leads Likud by 32 to 31 seats, but more votes are being counted. Those votes include diplomats, soldiers and prisoners.
Thankfully, after all these months, the election is over. Now it is time for the leaders to demonstrate leadership and begin to represent the people as a matter of priority.