In a poll released last Monday, November 11, less than 24 hours before Israel’s targeted assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu al-Ata in Gaza and the subsequent round of violence, 52% of Blue & White voters were in favor of forming a coalition with the support of the Joint List.
In the poll conducted by Galei Tzahal (Israel’s army radio station) those interviewed for the poll were asked: “Due to the political circumstances must we form a government even at the cost of cooperation with the Joint List?” As indicated, more than half of Blue & White voters responded yes to that question, whereas 44% were against such cooperation.
While a similar poll has yet to be conducted since the eruption of violence early Tuesday morning, November 12, one can only speculate as to whether these numbers can possibly remain the same, or whether they have changed, more likely in a negative direction. In fact, the Joint List as well as others, most prominently Labor MK Ofer Bar-Lev, accused Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday of setting the timing of the assassination for last week in order to frustrate Blue & White leader Benny Gantz’s attempt to form a government with support from the 13 Joint List MKs either within the coalition or supporting it from outside.
However, by now conducting a similar poll has probably become a moot point. News reports aired towards and during the weekend, following the fragile cease fire agreement, revealed that, under pressure from Blue & White’s Yair Lapid and other key members of his bloc, Gantz is for the first time considering the possibility of forming a “National Salvation Government” with the previously unacceptable Netanyahu & Co. If this is so, and the impetus for such a coalition gains momentum, Netanyahu’s allegedly politically-motivated bloodletting, and his surprise appearance in the Knesset on Wednesday of last week to attack the Joint List, incite against them and accuse them of supporting terrorism, may indeed prove to be the coup de grace that the prime minister needed to achieve his goals: remaining in power, albeit shared with Gantz in some deal to be finalized, and avoiding prosecution for the corruption charges against him.
Indeed, after Netanyahu’s surprise appearance in the Knesset, the possibility of a minority coalition supported from the outside by the Joint List was quickly abandoned by Gantz and his colleagues. This left the leaders of Blue & White with two stark choices: Either join a broad-based national unity government headed by Netanyahu, in contravention of their oft-repeated vows during the campaign, or bear responsibility for taking Israel to its third election campaign this year.
In the event that Blue & Whites selects the latter of these two bad choices, another poll released by Hadashot 13 television on Sunday evening, November 11, revealed that if a third round of elections for the Israel’s parliament were held, making the current 22nd Knesset, the second stillborn legislature elected in 2019, Blue & White would attain 35 seats, the Likud would win 34 places, and the Joint List would retain its 13 representatives. Or in other words, the impossible governing situation that has existed since the early dispersal of the 20th Knesset back on December 26, 2018 would continue with essentially no different result.
Neither continued political uncertainty resulting from an exacerbated political stalemate nor a “National Salvation Government” bode well for the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel. This being the case, it is incumbent upon the Joint List and all its participating parties, with Hadash in the lead, to gird its loins for the political, societal and other challenges ahead.
- Joint List Repeats 2015 Electoral Success, Winning 13 Knesset Seats
- Hadash MKs Slam Assassination of Islamic Jihad Leader, Accuse PM of Politically-Motivated Bloodletting
- With the Gaza Escalation, Hadash Activists Protest in Central Tel Aviv
- Netanyahu Exploits Deadly Gaza Attack to Blast Joint List & Hadash