Rivlin has rejected both Gantz and Netanyahu, giving the two of them the firm, drop-dead deadline that politicians really need in order to be forced to make decisions.
By GIL HOFFMAN, JPOST
APRIL 12, 2020 21:21
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin attends Germany’s lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, to commemorate the victims of the Nazi dictatorship, in Berlin, Germany January 29, 2020. (photo credit: MICHELE TANTUSSI / REUTERS)
President Reuven Rivlin attempted to recover from the backlash against him disregarding Health Ministry directives by hosting his daughter for the Seder on Sunday when he sought to recover the mantle of the “responsible adult” in handling the ongoing political crisis.
Rivlin could have taken the easy way out and given Blue and White leader Benny Gantz two more weeks to form a government. After all, he had a good case that Passover prevented a deal from being closed.
The president could have also taken the even easier way out and given the mandate to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in any case would go first in a rotation with Gantz in the Prime Minister’s Office.
But he realized that both decisions would have been a mistake. Gantz had lost the support of more than half the MKs who recommended he form the government. Netanyahu has a habit of stalling until the last moment in order to squeeze what he can out of any political lemon.
Instead, he rejected both Gantz and Netanyahu and gave the two of them the firm, drop-dead deadline that politicians really need in order to be forced to make decisions. He turned the spotlight on the two would-be prime ministers and told them: “You make the decision between a unity government and a fourth election during a debilitating pandemic.”
It is obvious what choice the public prefers after more than 100 deaths and 11,000 coronavirus cases. It is debatable whether an election could even be held, even if it is delayed until the latest possible date in September.
There are barely enough of the spaceman-like suits to protect medical professionals in Israel. Imagine trying to get enough of those for all the Central Elections Committee secretaries who would be needed to man the more than 10,000 polling stations across the country.
Both Likud and Blue and White admit privately that the other options that have been raised do not really exist.
Gantz is not going to pass the anti-Netanyahu legislation that would prevent the prime minister from forming a government that the Blue and White leader has been threatening for two months. He will also not form a minority government backed by the Joint List. He had a choice of taking both of those steps before breaking up his party and deciding against them.
Netanyahu is not going to get two more MKs to join the 59 in his center-right bloc to help him form a government without Blue and White. Labor MKs Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli will not come without Gantz.
As for right-wing MKs Yoaz Hendel and Tzvi Hauser, who ran with Blue and White for three elections – they have put their integrity on the line for a unity government. Hendel warned on Sunday that Netanyahu could miss a historic opportunity to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria if he does not have Gantz in his government.
Perhaps Hendel and Hauser would change their minds if the 21 days when any MK can form a government are almost over and they are the ones who will decide between an election and a Netanyahu-led government without Gantz. But we are not there yet.
All Gantz has to do is give Netanyahu some kind of guarantee that he will be his guarantee to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling that he cannot form a government and a deal can be reached by Monday. There are multiple ways of doing that, from passing bills to Gantz testifying before the judges.
If Rivlin succeeds at saving the country from six more wasteful weeks of political stalling, he will be remembered as the country’s savior. And if he prevents Israelis from eating more bitter herbs from their politicians, no one will recall who asked him the four questions.