Photo: Flash90

Israeli President urges public not to despair over political situation

The Israeli public has become increasingly frustrated with the political deadlock that resulted in the calling of a third round of national elections after two failed attempts by political leaders to form a viable government coalition.

Constituents have repeatedly called for a unity government between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, particularly because the two major parties have very similar ideological platforms. The two leaders have so far refused to compromise on several core issues, including Netanyahu’s future role in politics in light of his legal predicament.

There are growing concerns over the possibility that an endless limbo of elections could cripple the country’s ability to function properly. President of the Israel Democracy Institute think tank and former Knesset Member, Yohanan Plesner, pointed out that Israel has been “in an election mode since December of 2018, that means that Netanyahu will complete a year and a half as prime minister of a care-taker government that cannot make major decisions, neither appointments nor legislation or in any level of national decision making.”

In an apparent message of reassurance, President Reuven Rivlin released a videotaped statemen urging people not to “sink into despair” or “lose faith” in the country’s democratic system. “After two rounds of elections and as a third election campaign begins, I believe this is also a critical moment for the Israeli public – which will ultimately decide on who its leaders are,” said Rivlin. “Israeli democracy was and still is a source of our pride, and we know that the democratic system comes at a cost. We witnessed (the cost) this past year. I pray that the depth of the current political crisis and the divisions it exposes amongst us will lead us as a society and as a country to fight not only for the right to disagree with each other – but also to the duty to find what we can agree about. I know that we can live together as brothers, from an understanding that there are issues that we will never agree upon.”

The Israeli head of state also expressed his hope that the upcoming election slated to be held 2 March 2020 would be the last campaign for the next four years. Rivlin underscored his faith that “we will be able to grow as a people and a society from the division and disagreement that separates us, to agreement and action that benefits us all. We must not allow ourselves to sink into despair or grievance, which does no good. We must not lose faith in the democratic system or in its ability to create the reality we live in with our own hands, thanks to this system (democracy). When the time comes, we will all exercise our democratic right and do it in the hope of a better future, as soon as possible, for us all.”