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The road to a fourth Netanyahu gov’t runs through Haneen Zoabi

The ‘Zionist Camp’ needs the Arab parties in order to form a government. Its decision to vote for disqualifying Zoabi makes that support less and less likely.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands on a tractor at the West Bank settlement of Eli at a campaign event, February 11, 2015. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands on a tractor during a campaign event in the city of Ra’anana in central Israel, February 11, 2015. (Photo by Activestills.org)

The Central Elections Commission on Thursday disqualified MK Haneen Zoabi and candidate Baruch Marzel from running in Israel’s upcoming elections. The decision is not final without the approval of the Supreme Court, which is not expected to uphold the disqualification.

The Zionist Camp, comprised of the Labor Party and Tzipi Livni’s party, reversed its already-reversed position and joined the majority in voting to disqualify Zoabi. Only six votes were cast against disqualifying the Balad MK, which came from Meretz and the Arab parties.

While the disqualification itself is an act of political theater in an election increasingly straddling one axis — whether, and how Zionist each party and candidate is — it may very well have a definitive effect on the next government.

After the elections, the president asks all of the parties in the new Knesset to recommend who should be given an opportunity to form the governing coalition. Taking those recommendations into consideration, the president then chooses the head of one party, who has 42 days to build a coalition of at least 61 MKs.

The president is not compelled to choose the largest party; he can also choose somebody who is likely to be able to form a viable coalition. For example, after the 2009 elections, Tzipi Livni headed the largest party but she was unable to form a coalition so Netanyahu was given an opportunity — and succeeded.

This is where the Zionist Camp’s vote to disqualify Haneen Zoabi comes into play as perhaps the biggest gamble of its campaign.

Where the polls stand today, the Zionist Camp doesn’t have a large enough block of parties to form a coalition but if it is nevertheless chosen to form a government, it could pull in some of the centrist parties that are more flexible about what type of government they are willing to sit in.

In order to be given the chance to form a government at all, however, they would need the support of the Joint List of Arab parties. By voting to disqualify one of the Joint List’s members, the Zionist Camp runs the risk of losing their support.

All of that means that even if the Zionist Camp comes out of the elections as the largest party, its best chance of making it into any coalition is to form a unity government with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

Netanyahu certainly doesn’t need the Zionist Camp in order to form a government, but it may appear advantageous to him.

The primary reason cited for calling new elections in the first place was the ungovernability of the previous government. In order to form the coalition, Netanyahu had to bring together a handful of parties with various and often-times conflicting agendas.

Ostensibly, each party has its own red lines, usually articulated in coalition agreements that help set the government’s agenda. With so many parties with so many diverging agendas and their respective red lines, the government is constantly being held hostage by one party or another, on any given issue. If they don’t get their way, they have the power to resign and topple the government.

So while Netanyahu could foreseeably form a government with only right-wing and centrist parties (which would be even more right-wing than the current government), doing so would mean a return to the very ungovernability that tore apart his previous coalition. So the opportunity to form a government with only the Zionist Camp and the ultra-Orthodox parties could be appealing, even if it means making some compromises on key issues like the peace process.

For the Zionist Camp, the gamble is this: Labor leader Isaac Herzog can hope that despite attacking the Arab list in a way that likely demolishes its political red lines that its members will nevertheless support him in forming a government. Otherwise, he is left with only two options: lead the opposition or join a government with Netanyahu, if the latter will have him.

Despite the Zionist Camp’s slogan, It’s us or him, many commentators, including +972’s Noam Sheizaf, have speculated that a unity government comprised of the Zionist Camp and Likud is a very real possibility.

By voting to disqualify Zoabi, Herzog and Livni are increasing the likelihood of that outcome.

How Zionism is pitting Jewish parties against each other
For a few votes, Labor joins the attacks on Haneen Zoabi
The political brilliance of Netanyahu’s Congress speech

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    1. Bruce Gould

      The water situation: “In 1967, the year the occupation began, Israel put the plan Weizmann had talked about as early as 1919 into action. All Palestinian water resources were declared Israeli State Property and Palestinians had to apply for permits to develop their water resources. After nearly 30 years, the Oslo Accords were signed, supposedly bringing an end to the situation. Another 20 years on, it is apparent that they instead formalised and legitimised an existing discriminatory arrangement – an arrangement still in place today.” – https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/16902-water-running-dry-for-palestinians-as-israel-turns-off-the-taps

      Reply to Comment
    2. Weiss

      “… the president then chooses the head of one party, who has 42 days to build a coalition of at least 61 MKs.”

      This is NOT a democracy, since there are no direct elections in Israel. It is a pompous and archaic Parliamentary system that strips the people of the power to directly elect their leaders.

      Citizens vote for parties not actual candidates. The leader of each party (list) is chosen by the party members themselves not the people.

      The President who is appointed by the Knesset (not the people) “chooses” who will be “given” the privledge to form a coalition government (with no runoff elections?) regardless if that party doesn’t gain a majority of seats.

      And yet ANOTHER reason why I am Ashamed to be Jewish

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bar

      Prior to the vote on Zoabi or even Herzog’s party saying she should be disqualified, Adalah put out a public statement that the Arab coalition would not join any coalition because of its opposition to Zionist parties (no, that’s not a joke, this is real).

      To suggest that Zoabi is the cause for anything is simply false. On your own site you have an interview with Zahalka, a key Arab political player, and his anti-Zionism bursts forth like a cluster bomb.

      Stop blaming Israelis for the bias and bigotry some Arabs, particularly politicians, feel for Jews. You should be working on bringing them into the fold, not supporting their demands for Israel to dismantle itself.

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        And what about the bias and bigotry some Jews particularly politicians, feel for Palestinians?

        There are extremists on BOTH SIDES …

        Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        The usual right wing slander. Are you a Netanyahu campaign copy scribbler? It all depends on WHAT they want to “dismantle.” Sheldon Adelson’s “Israel”? You bet. +972’s “Israel”? No.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          1. Where is “the usual right-wing slander”, Brian?

          2. “It depends on what they want to dismantle”? What do you think “they want to dismantle”, Brian?

          3. What do you mean by “Sheldon Anderson’s Israel”, Brian?

          Reply to Comment
    4. Yeah, Right

      W: “This is NOT a democracy, since there are no direct elections in Israel.”

      It is a Westminster system.

      W: “It is a pompous and archaic Parliamentary system that strips the people of the power to directly elect their leaders.”

      No, it is a Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Get over it.

      W: “Citizens vote for parties not actual candidates.”

      No, they don’t. They vote for candidates, on a list, provided by that party.

      Those candidates then sit in the Parliament, and by their collective decision they allow the government to… govern.

      If the government can survive a no-confidence vote in the parliament then it…. governs. If the government loses a no-confidence vote in the parliament then it…falls, and new elections are called for.

      That’s what the article means when it says “If they don’t get their way, they have the power to resign and topple the government.”

      It isn’t the resignation that dooms the government, it’s the fact that having resigned that parliamentarian is then free to vote *against* the government in a no-confidence vote.

      That’s the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, and it is quite common.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bruce Gould

      Allow me to point out that the form of government a country has doesn’t say a lot: Russia, Sweden, Canada and the U.S. are all democracies but that says zilch about the nature of society in those countries. Putin was ‘democratically elected’, strictly speaking, but that says nothing about the nature of Russian society: who has the power, how it’s used, whether or not minorities are oppressed, and so forth.

      Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        And your point is……..what? And in relation to…..what exactly?

        Reply to Comment
    6. shachalnur

      Censoring an alternative view on the elections?

      No problem,only hope you have the balls to publish it,after the elections,when it turns out I was right.

      If your main financier gives you permission,of course.

      If not ,I’ll spread the comment all over the Internet after the elections,with the message you censored that one.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Average American

      I don’t understand why there is any fuss at all. Israel’s governments have always and will always pursue the values of its founding philosophy, Zionism. Zionism says pure-blood Jews are to rule all of The Land Of Israel with halacha law.

      Reply to Comment
      • C.C. DeVille

        Hey dumbshit, your last sentence contradicts itself. According to Halacha one not need to be a pure blood Jew to be Jewish. In fact, that concept is foreign to being Jewish

        But continue to being your talking points from storefront snd mondoweis so we can hand your ass to you every time.

        Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          CC: Actually you’re right, it’s not pure blood, it’s blood line (mother). Now do you want to talk about Zionism’s claim for The Jews to rule all of The Land Of Israel? What is the Land Of Israel? What are it’s borders? Zionism says it’s Lebanon, Syria, half of Iraq (to the Euphrates), Jordan, quarter of western Saudi Arabia, and Sinai. All under halacha law which makes some disturbing opinions about how Jews are to be treated compared to Non-Jews.

          Reply to Comment