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Israel Finally Has A New Government Coalition (Well… Sort Of…Maybe)

After four elections in two years Israel has new government coalition. But to be honest it may not last long enough to be approved by the Knesset

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Twenty-five minutes before his mandate to form a new government was to expire and force Israel into its fifth election in a bit more than two years, a new coalition was formed. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called President Rivlin (who was at a soccer game) and informed him that he had managed to form a government. Lapid and Naftali Bennett, the head of the Yamina party, were together during the call, and Rivlin took the call from the locker room of the soccer stadium.

“Mr. President, I call you to say that I was able to form a government with factions. There is a future, right, blue and white, RAAM, new hope, Meretz and the Labor Party,” Lapid said, adding: “Everyone signed and informed me that they had succeeded. I can form a government. “Lapid then handed the phone to Bennett, who also spoke with the president.

Israelis do not vote directly for a Prime Minister, nor do they vote for a representative—remember, it’s a tiny country. Actually, there were direct elections for the Prime Minister in the 1980s, but that was changed back to the original system when direct voting didn’t produce a more stable government.

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There has never been an Israeli election where one party gained a majority of the 120 seats in the Knesset. Every election has produced a coalition government.

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If the new coalition is confirmed by the new Israeli Knesset when it meets (sometime before June 14), it will be comprised of eight parties with a total of 61 seats in the Knesset. The eight parties included in the coalition are Blue and White, Labor, Meretz, New Hope, Ra’am, Yamina, Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beiteinu. Ra’am has the historic possibility of being the first Arab party to ever be a part of an Israeli government. Arabs have almost always had seats in the Knesset.

The new government will be the first in a dozen years that won’t include Binyamin Netanyahu as its leader and Prime Minister, include an Arab party for the first time ever, has no real dominant party, and will the broadest coalition in Israeli history. But the operative word is ifEverything I just mentioned is a reason why the government coalition may not hold together until the Knesset votes to approve it—or why it may not last long if installed.

Before we get to that, understand that a coalition is more than a few parties getting together over a beer and deciding to work together. A coalition agreement outlines who the ministers will be and for how long, and if there is a rotation of ministries who gets what and in which order. A coalition agreement will also outline the important legislation to be passed. Any coalition negotiation is arduous. The final details of this agreement have not as of yet been negotiated.

Note: I have asked to be given the ice cream or Oreo cookie ministry portfolios, but since I don’t live in Israel and those portfolios do not exist, my request was ignored.

Because the coalition has a razor-thin 61 seats, it would take only one Knesset member in one of the coalition parties to disagree with the final deal, vote not to approve the government, and toss the new government out the window. There are already cracks beginning to show.

Recognizing the coalition’s fragility, the Knesset ministers (MK) of the parties involved want a Knesset vote ASAP. They understand that all Netanyahu’s Likud Party has to do is pick off one of the 61 MKs to destroy the coalition. The Knesset speaker Yariv Levin comes from Likud and wants to delay a vote on the coalition as long as possible per Israeli law, wanting to give Bibi the time to pick off one MK if possible.

On Thursday, the 61 MKs due to make up the new coalition submitted a formal request to the Secretary of the Knesset to begin the process of replacing Levin. However, Nir Orbach of Yamina announced he did not support the request to remove Levin, that his signature was added without his knowledge, and asked that it be withdrawn—that leaves them one short of the votes needed to toss the speaker. So Lapid vetoed the movement to keep the coalition together.

Note: although I researched it, I couldn’t discover if Orbach is related to my favorite character from Law and Order, Lenny Brisco, who was played by the late great Jerry Orbach.

Israeli law requires a new election at least every four years. Per the public part of the coalition agreement, which is not fully known or worked out, Bennett will be the Premier for the first two years and Lapid for the next two.

That in itself is strange. Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party (6 seats) conservative in nature, even more to the right than Likud. Bennett will be the most religiously observant PM in Israel’s history. He wears a yarmulke all the time and believes that Judea and Samaria should be annexed by Israel. Lapid’s party (17 seats), on the other hand, Yesh Atid is liberal, supports a two-state solution, and is secular in nature, including the demand of ending military draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox.

The eight parties in the coalition are all over the place politically.

 

Notice Yesh Atid, the largest party, has only 17 seats and Yamina only six. Before that, the smallest party to lead a coalition was Labor in 1999, with 26 seats. This particular coalition doesn’t include a dominant party, making the government more prone to splits, thus, less stable. The party receiving the most seats this past election isn’t in the coalition. It was Likud with 30 seats. But Netanyahu couldn’t attract 31 more seats to join his coalition when given the opportunity.

If the parties are all over the place ideologically, how were they able to coalesce? The primary objective of each of the parties in the coalition was to make sure that Binyamin Netanyahu was no longer part of the ruling government. If the coalition receives Knesset approval, they achieved their goal.

But then they have to rule. Can a coalition so ideologically diverse stay together after it achieves its goal of removing Netanyahu? Doubtful. As I have said many times before, as fractured as American politics are, our Democratic Vs. GOP battles are kid’s play compared to Israeli politics. A few of the parties in the coalition broke off from Likud. Others are combinations of other parties. If the new government gets seated, meaning it reached its primary goal of ousting Bibi, the glue uniting the parties will no longer work. The coalition is guaranteed to be fractured and fall apart. My prediction is six months at the most.

Again the important word is if. Those who do not believe the coalition can fall apart before the Knesset vote, allow me to point you to 1990, or what Shimon Peres called “the dirty trick.”

The existing coalition at the time was led by Likud and Yitzhak Shamir. It was voted down by a no-confidence vote after the Labor Party’s Peres pulled his and other leftist parties out of the government because Shamir did not accept a plan by Bush #41’s anti-Israel secretary of state James “F**k the Jews” Baker. It was the only time in Israeli history that a government was dissolved by a motion of no confidence.

After being given the mandate to form a new government, Peres announced he could form a new government made up of left-wing and ultra-orthodox parties. The new government was to be approved on April, 11,1990. However, on that morning of the vote, two MKs from the ultra-orthodox party Agudat Yisrael didn’t show up. Apparently, the Lubavitcher Rebbe ruled they could not support any concession of Israeli territory (one of Peres’ objectives). With their absence, Peres didn’t have enough votes for Knesset approval. Eventually, the mandate to form a government was passed to Shamir, who managed to form a right-wing coalition. Proving that old saying once again, “the opera ain’t over until the zaftig lady sings.”

This will be a fast-changing story. A coalition has been agreed to, but not every detail has been worked out. Before it reaches the Knesset for a vote, Netanyahu will be working hard to pick off the one MK needed to squash the new coalition and force another election. And even if the new ideologically fractured coalition gets the requisite 61 votes in the Knesset, it is not likely to last long. Keep checking back here at The Lid to stay on top of the news.

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MUST SEE: Brave Alaskan Helps Baby Moose Navigate Highway Barrier

Normally, stories about moose on the highway don’t end this well.

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Alaska is a state like no other.  It’s still a veritably untamed place, where the weather and the wildlife are both out to get you. It takes a special kind of person to hack it in America’s last frontier.  A simple run to the grocery store can be hazardous in some conditions, and just taking the garbage out at night may find you face-to-face with hundreds of pounds of brown bear. But ask any Alaskan what they hope to avoid the most, and many will tell you it’s the moose that you have to worry about. These creatures are simply enormous, and they have just enough of an attitude to be more than a nuisance when confronted.  Combine that with the fact that plenty of Alaskans are killed each year after automotive collisions with these gargantuan animals, and you have a real recipe for trouble. This week, however, a different sort of moose story made headlines, and with some adorable photos to show for it. Last week, pictures of a man in Alaska lifting a moose calf over a highway guardrail were posted on Facebook. According to Andrea N Salty Bock, who posted the pictures on Facebook, the calf and its mother were near Clam Gulch, on the Kenai Peninsula. The mother was apparently trying to get her baby to go over the guardrail, but it was too tall for the calf. “Traffic stopped to give her the room she needed,” the Facebook post said. “But the calf could not clear the guardrail.” The photos were captivating. Authorities, while thankful that the moose was able to continue on its way, warned that the situation was still a dangerous one, despite the size and age of this animal.

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Biden, Putin Appear Ready to Make Deal on Cyber Criminals

Well, it’s a start.

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Vladimir Putin

Of all of the ways in which this latest iteration of the Cold War has manifested itself in recent years, the insidious actors of the digital dimension may very well be the most prominent here in the 21st century. Notably, the den of online thieves and troublemakers who emanate from Russia, and often choose to target individuals and businesses in America.  In the past several weeks alone, hackers with ties to Russia have crippled a gasoline pipeline on the east coast of the United States and the world’s largest meatpackers. Now, as US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin look for ways to improve the ailing relationship between their two nations, a novel idea has risen in popularity. President Joe Biden signaled an openness to swapping cybercriminals with Russia ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. “Yes, I’m open to, if there’s crimes committed against Russia that, in fact, people committing those crimes are being harbored in the United States, I’m committed to holding them accountable. I was told as I was flying here that he said that. I think that’s potentially a good sign of progress,” Biden said at a post-G-7 summit press conference in the United Kingdom on Sunday. Putin had raised the possibility during an interview over the weekend. “If we agree on the extradition of criminals, then Russia will naturally do that but only if the other side, in this case, the United States, agrees to the same and will also extradite corresponding criminals to the Russian Federation,” Putin said according to Russian news agency TASS. Of course, given that Russia has a history of neglecting the human rights of her prisoners, there is sure to be some pushback regarding the idea of sending “innocent until proven guilty” perpetrators…

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