The Likud awoke on April 10th with a clear, easy path to form a coalition: With 70 Knesset seats between them, there was no reason for Binyamin Netanyahu not to begin talks with Blue & White party chairman Benny Gantz and to quickly establish a broad, stable government with clear, centre-right wing policies.
The outline of the government should have been clear: Netanyahu as prime minister, Gantz as defense minister, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid as foreign minister, and the rest of the major ministries going to the Likud (as compensation for giving up the two biggest portfolios). That coalition would have had the parliamentary strength to begin to address a pressing issue in Israeli society – the ultra-Orthodox decision to opt-out of Israeli society in as many areas as possible (military service and education being the most obvious and pressing) – as well as coherent, discernible policies vis-à-vis Hamas in Gaza, Fatah in Judea and Samaria and Iran.
I don’t know if Netanyahu actually believes his silly rhetoric that Blue & White is a “leftist” party (to the best of my knowledge, the prime minister has never spelled out exactly which of Benny Gantz’s and Yair Lapid’s policy proposals he considers “left wing”, or even which ones he simply opposes.
It is irrelevant, however. This parliamentary failure can be chalked up to the hubris of one man only: Binyamin Netanyahu.
One final point (for now): A close friend of mine in New York suggests that Israel’s election system needs overhaul. That is undoubtedly true. But the success of any democratic system is politicians’ basic belief that they are there to serve the public, rather than their own interests. But no system of government or elections can overcome a situation where politicians are driven by self-interest.