Jun 15, 2020

Fighting in the Coalition is the best Opposition

If you thought a large bloated unity government would offer some quiet in Knesset for a while, you were wrong. The coalition can't seem to live together happily, and not just between Likud and Kachol Lavan. There is strife and infighting and threats and attacks, all from within the coalition. It even seems, to me, that the coalition is right now a more significant Opposition than the actual Opposition!

Likud and Lachol Lavan are fight. Kachol Lavan really wants the Norwegian Law passed. Most of their MKs are ministers or deputy ministers, so they have hardly anyone in Knesset doing parliamentarian work - the passage of the Norwegian Law would relieve them of much of this tension and give them more representation in Knesset. Likud on the other hand wants a law passed to protect Netanyahu even more. A petition was filed against netanyahus erving as "Alternate Prime Minister" in the next half of the rotation. For now the Supreme Court has decided it is not yet relevant and they will not rule on the petition until it becomes relevant in about a year and a half. In the meantime the Likud wants to pass a law that will declare elections immediately if Netanyahu should be disallowed from serving as Alternate Prime Minister. Kachol Lavan is refusing to agree, as that would mean after Netanyahu's turn in the rotation, Gantz won't get his turn to serve as Prime Minister. In the meantime, Likud is holding the Norwegian law hostage.

The bigger problem with this is that holding the Norwegian Law hostage is upsetting UTJ. They want the Norwegian law desperately as well to get more of their representatives in Knesset and the fighrt between Likud and Kachol Lavan is hampering that. They threatened the Likud today, who threatened back, and then MK Gafni tried to push it through anyway and force a vote but Likud insisted on putting it back on hold for now.

In UTJ itself the factions are fighting as well. Agudat Israel is made up of various hassidic factions, the largest being Gur, thus they lead the faction. There is an agreed upon division of labor, but they always seem to fight about the responsibilities given to the lower representatives who always think they are being shafted time after time. MK Yosroel Eichler, the rep of Belz, is leading the charge fighting for a more important role than what he was given, and nobody is caving. Eichler is now demanding internal primaries, rather than continuing with the same arrangement that has been in place for the past 50 years that now is basically not representative of the actual communities. Minister Litzman, the Gur rep, is opposed to primaries. Gur gets the big straw no matter what in the current system, so he wants to keep it the way it is.

So now Eichler has proposed a law that would lower the minimum threshold for Knesset. it currently sits at 3.25% after having been raised several years ago from 1.5% and initially from 1%. Eichler's threat basically is that by lowering the threshold it will give him the option of breaking away from Aguda and forming his own party, perhaps with an alliance with another group not quite big enough on its own.

Litzman is opposed to lowering the threshold as he does not want UTJ, or Agudat Israel, split up and keeping the threshold at the higher level almost guarantees they will not split. Degel hatorah has announced they would support Eichler's law proposal and vote in favor. They did not explain why, but that makes a split look even more realistic.

Eichler proposed the law explaining that the higher threshold keeps many groups of people without representation, as is evidenced by the many hundreds of thousands of votes that were discarded in the recent three rounds of elections when various parties came close but didn't pass the threshold.
source: Kikar, Haredim10

We haven't seen internal fighting in UTJ like this in many years. It is somewhat of a shame that laws can be thrown around like this for personal [party] benefits rather than for considerations of what is good for the country, but that's the system we live in.

With an Opposition like the Coalition, I don't think we even need an actual Opposition. They are tearing themselves apart without any other help from anyone else. The Knesset always makes for a good show. Just keep enough popcorn handy.

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1 comment:

  1. The minimum threshold law was originally passed to deny Rav Meir Kahana Hy"d his seat.
    Now it's coming back to haunt them. It was considered "democratic" then, why isn't it democratic now?


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