March 23, 2020
From left to right: Blue and White party leaders Moshe Ya'alon, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi pose for a picture after announcing their new electoral alliance in Tel Aviv on February 21, 2019. (Credit: Jack Guez/AFP)
Inevitably there will be four elections. I never doubted it. I called it before the third round, and I wrote then that the fourth ultimately will be coming and will be deciding.
By then, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will have been more-or-less acquitted or convicted. If justly acquitted, he and Likud will do very well at the polls, and the religious-Right coalition will govern without Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beytenu party.
If Netanyahu is convicted and steps down, Lieberman may be expected to discover a reason to drop his religious war and will join a Likud-led coalition because he will have achieved his primary purpose — the displacement of Netanyahu.
President Reuven Rivlin meanwhile was presented with 61 members of the recently elected Knesset endorsing Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to try forming a government.
Gantz has only 46 "Jewish party" seats among his endorsements. His Blue and White have 33, the hard-left Labor-Meretz have six, and "Never Bibi" Yisrael Beytenu has seven.
That is all Gantz has from parties rooted in the Jewish sector; in that way, he is not even close to the 58 seats garnered by Likud (36), Ashkenazi-haredi United Torah Judaism (7), Sephardi-haredi Shas (9), and the national-religious Yemina (6).
In Jewish-sector terms, it is not even close: 58-46. Therefore, in his desperate grab to attain power in the face of horrible numbers, Gantz reneged on his solemn campaign assurances and promises to Blue and White voters and went to bed with the 15 Knesset members from the anti-Zionist Joint Arab List.
In his desperation, he was joined by two other former Israel Defense Forces chiefs of staff, his colleagues in the "cockpit" of Blue and White, Moshe Ya'alon and Gabi Ashkenazi.
Together they all seem equally mesmerized by their proximity to power and their hatred of Netanyahu. So, for the present fleeting moment, the Left of 46 seems by mirage to be 61.
But it is all mirage, temporarily legitimizing the Joint Arab List of anti-Zionists. If Gantz, Ya'alon, or Ashkenazi were ever mighty, then how the mighty have fallen!
No "minority government" comprising such a cacophony can last long. Reality clearly portends what lies in store.
Arabs in Judea and Samaria, areas within the Palestinian Authority, and in Gaza will be emboldened in their beliefs that time is on their side in taking down Israel.
Hamas will rain rockets, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza will compete with them to see who launches more.
Sooner or later the "Grand Blue and White Minority Government" will have to respond militarily. They will not have a choice, just as prior generations of Israeli governments of the Left, ultimately had to go to war and battle fiercely when others who sought to destroy Israel mistakenly construed leftist offers of land concessions as signs of Jewish weakness.
The rockets will come. The response will come. And then the 15 Arab MKs elected on the Joint Arab List platform will have to withdraw support from a Gantz government and vote to bring down the Blue and White minority coalition.
Such a government would fall either mid-battle, or Likud MKs would save the day by offering a temporary "unity government" until the fighting ends. And then Israel will go to the polls. Again.
In any subsequent election, those who have continually backed Likud and the religious parties will remain fervent as ever. Those on the Left will not change, nor will the Arab voters.
The dynamic shifting of ground will take place among Blue and White voters who choose to undertake a "cheshbon nefesh" — a self-accounting.
Having experienced the revelation that Blue and White reneged on the core promise not to form a government with Arab parties that would destroy Israel, those chastened voters will have to draw conclusions.
Even some of Lieberman's voters may find themselves asking whether they share his hate for Netanyahu so deeply that they are satisfied that their votes were leveraged, however briefly, to form a government that relied on the sort of Joint Arab List MKs associated with the Arab coalition's Hadash and Balad factions.
For Lieberman, the hate is personal, perhaps because he believes that Netanyahu was involved in bringing down his party from its prior heights when prosecutors investigated Yisrael Beytenu, ultimately gaining severe convictions against several of the party's prominent players.
Lieberman has his loyal following of ever-aging anti-Arab right-wing immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Many of them have remained loyal to him for ethnic reasons, much as African-Americans voters largely stood by Barack Obama for eight years no matter how grievously his policies injured them economically and contributed to increasing crime and murder in inner cities.
However, the children of Lieberman's constituents see themselves as Israelis, not as "Russians," and do not vote for Lieberman. His influence will wane.
Will Israel's voters remember Blue and White's perfidy to them? The inevitable fourth election will settle this matter, finally.