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MK Hasson, chairman of the Zionist Union faction
Photo: Yaron Brener
Moran Azulay
Photo: Yaron Brener
Israel finally has an opposition
Analysis: The last real opposition leader was Benjamin Netanyahu, who fought the Olmert government with a 12-member faction; now, his old rival Yoel Hasson has woken his colleagues up from their coma and is targeting a weak coalition whose members are constantly attacking each other.
For the first time in nearly a decade, Israel has an opposition. The last time Israel had an opposition, Ehud Olmert was prime minister and Benjamin Netanyahu was the leader of a medium-sized 12-member faction. The chairman of the Likud faction at the time was Gideon Sa'ar, and together they showed the Kadima-led government how it should be done.

 

 

Since Netanyahu rose to power, the opposition parties have been groveling to him one after the other. Suddenly, it seems, something different is happening.

 

The opposition is actually led by the chairman of the Zionist Union faction, Knesset Member Yoel Hasson. He grew up in Likud, moved to Kadima and landed in Zionist Union as part of Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party.

 

MK Yoel Hasson. Whoever fails to comply with his policy is shamed  (Photo: Dana Koppel)
MK Yoel Hasson. Whoever fails to comply with his policy is shamed (Photo: Dana Koppel)

 

Hasson is the person who fought Netanyahu and Likud during the Olmert era, and Labor leader Avi Gabbay apparently made the right decision when he appointed him faction chairman although Hasson didn't endorse him in the Labor leadership elections. Hasson is familiar with the Knesset's work and with Israeli politics and has a lot of experience in dealing with Netanyahu.

 

Hasson keeps the opposition on a short leash. There are no deals and no offsets. Whoever fails to comply with this policy is shamed. Thanks to Hasson and his successful cooperation with MK Ofer Shelah, chairman of the Yesh Atid faction, the groveling has disappeared.

 

Hasson is targeting a weak, depressed coalition in a state of conflict. Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Lieberman blatantly broke ranks with the coalition last week with the supermarket bill, but Likud members remained silent. It's not that they don’t hate what Lieberman is doing to them, but the fear that Yair Lapid will grow stronger is paralyzing each and every one of them, to the very last Likud backbencher. Likud would rather have Lieberman keep centrist and rightist voters than let Lapid attract them in light of the growing bitterness over the Shabbat laws.

 

Lieberman (R) and Bennett. Smelling elections in the air, they're fighting over right-wing votes   (Photo: GPO, Yair Sagi)
Lieberman (R) and Bennett. Smelling elections in the air, they're fighting over right-wing votes (Photo: GPO, Yair Sagi)

 

One person who did attack Lieberman is Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, who was shortly hit with a counterattack. These two aren't fighting over the supermarket bill, but over right-wing votes. They both smell elections in the air.

 

Meanwhile, Shas leader Aryeh Deri, the man who used an onion to help him cry in a campaign video, broke a new cynical record last week. While attacking the opposition for refusing to offset the absence of Likud MK Yehuda Glick as he mourned his wife Yaffa,

Deri—a religious Jew—tried to pull the mourner from his wife’s shiva to vote at the Knesset for a law which no one—apart from Deri himself—finds particularly important or urgent.

 

This conduct and the attacks between the coalition members do not indicate that the Netanyahu government players are interested in elections. They could point, however, to a miscalculated risk: Like in Gaza, a war which can break out at any given moment just because one of the sides thinks the other side is about to initiate it. No one wants elections, but they're right around the corner, just one small mistake away.

 


First published: 01.08.18, 23:49
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