Thursday, May 10, 2012

Iran Is Not The Only Issue Netanyahu's New Coalition Will Have To Address

[T]he Israeli people as a whole appreciate a leader who has bolstered and stabilized Israel’s economy, thrown Palestinian rejectionism into sharp relief, and generally maintained the country’s—albeit precarious—security. Bibi-bashing won’t cut it anymore. Netanyahu represents Israel and now has the strongest mandate possible to do whatever needs to be done.
P David Hornik

In discussions about Netanyahu's new coalition, one of the major advantages of his new 94 minister coalition is of course the added authority Bibi now has in decisions about Iran: all the more so with Shaul Mofaz, former chief of staff and defense minister--and Iranian--as his coalition partner.

However, Israel's problems are not limited to issues of Iran and national security. There are internal issues of concern as well that create ill-will and distrust among Israelis.

P David Hornik writes that Netanyahu’s New Mega-Coalition may be able to address those problems as well:

For two of Israel’s most intractable problems—refusal of military or national service by most of its growing ultra-Orthodox population, and dysfunctionalities of its parliamentary system—solutions are now eminently possible. In their joint press conference on Tuesday, Netanyahu and Mofaz pledged that the new coalition would tackle these issues without offering any specifics.

The problems are indeed complex. The draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox, which are contingent on yeshiva study, not only sow bitterness among the army-serving public but lead to large-scale unemployment among ultra-Orthodox men and a growing, worrisome drain on the economy. To date, ultra-Orthodox parties in fragile coalitions have prevented possible solutions. For the mega-coalition, though, the path appears clear to legislating some sort of mandatory service and remedying this longstanding malady.

This being linked, of course, to the issue of a parliamentary system that allows small parties of various—not just ultra-Orthodox—descriptions to proliferate and wield disproportionate influence. Again, the new coalition stands a real chance to cure the illness. Raising the electoral threshold and introducing regional elections are two often-mentioned ideas. Israel could emerge as a better-functioning, more representational democracy with much more stable governments.
Read the whole thing.

Dr. Aaron Lerner notes that according to a poll sponsored by Maariv, Israelis are not sure that even a mega-coaltion is capable of resolving Israel's domestic issues. The following is a telephone poll of 550 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) carried out by TNS for Marriv on May 8 and published yesterday:
Was the move of Netanyahu and Mofaz to establish a national unity government
and postpone the elections justified in terms of the interest of the State?
[AL: Built in bias - the elections were not "postponed" - they will be as
Justified 50.9% Unjustified 34.8% Don't know 14.3%

How do you feel about the move?
Complacence 31% Support 30.7% Oppose 29.9% Don't know 8.3%

What do you think was the main reason behind the decision of Mofaz?
Political survival 70.6% National interest 16.6% Don't know 12.8%

Do you think that the national unity government will succeed in advancing
the matters it plans to regarding changing the Tal Law and changing the
system of government?
Will succeed 37.7% Won't 46.7% Don't know 15.6%

Does the forming of a national unity government advance the struggle of
Israel against the Iranian nuclear program?
Yes 44.9% No 39.5% Don't know 15.6%

Will the national unity government survive to the November 2013 elections
Yes 57.4% No 29.1% Don't know 13.5%

Who is the main winner of the forming of the national unity government?
Mofaz 54.1% Netanyahu 53% Barak 18.1%

Who is the big looser from the establishment of the national unity
Lapid 46.6% Shelley Yichimovitz 35.8% Arieh Deri 13.9%
If the new coalition does make it till November 2013, it will have plenty of time to secure Netanyahu's legacy as one of Israel's great Prime Ministers--or justify the critics who have dogged him since his first term as Prime Minister which ended when he was defeated by Ehud Barak back in 1999.

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