1. Third time’s a crime: Hebrew media outlets broadcast their utter disgust with lawmakers’ inability to make the compromises necessary to prevent the year’s third (!) election.
- Yedioth Ahronoth plasters its front page with the word “SHAME” and the faces of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman inside the block letters that make up the word.
- Pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom just as accurately brands the whole ordeal a “CIRCUS” on its front page.
- Channel 12’s Amit Segal describes the events as a car crash that all sides saw coming from miles and miles away, but still chose to do nothing to prevent.
- i24News correspondent Eylon Levy quotes modern-day political Zionism founder Theodor Herzl who said, “If you will it, it’s no dream.” “Tonight Israel proves that even if you don’t will it, and can’t dream it, anything can happen,” he laments.
2. No, no drama: Unlike the previous failed government talks, there weren’t even any last-minute coalition negotiation efforts to speak of.
- In fact, the final hours before the midnight deadline were filled with speeches from dozens of lawmakers in the Knesset plenum about how this was not the reason they had come into politics and how none of them saw this coming.
- Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid told the poor folks watching at home to hide the screen from their kids and predicted that the upcoming election campaign will be a “festival of hate, violence and disgrace.”
- Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz tried to spice things up by threatening to force a March 10 election on the Purim holiday if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not show up to vote, but even that effort was scuttled shortly thereafter when Likud MK Miki Zohar announced at a committee meeting that the premier was on his way.
- Earlier in the day, there had been been reports that Netanyahu was willing to call another possible Gantz bluff by agreeing to give up on efforts to maintain parliamentary immunity, but Channel 12 later reported that the lack of trust and goodwill between the sides was too significant to bridge with a unity government.
- The Joint List also almost sparked some excitement, with MK Ahmad Tibi managing to briefly convince Yisrael Beytenu MKs to include an amendment in the Knesset dissolving bill that would have frozen the so-called Kaminetz Law, which severely increased punishments for illegal land construction. But upon hearing the news, activists from the right-wing organization Regavim rushed to the Knesset in the middle of the night and managed to convince sympathetic MKs to hold off on including the amendment until it is discussed in the Finance Committee.
3. Will we be paying in cash or credit? Haaretz’s editorial goes after the last item of legislation forced through the fledgling Knesset that gives parties over $17 million in campaign funding.
- “The primary reason for the legislation, according to the preamble to the bill, is: ‘As a result of the holding of three elections within less than one year, the parties face a marked difficulty in managing the public resources allotted them by law.’ In other words, we spent a lot of money on the two previous campaigns, we’ve gone into debt, so we’re entitled to more for the next election,” the paper writes. But this is twisted logic. Precisely because this is the third election in less than a year, we can make do with a modest, frugal campaign.”
- Channel 13’s Akiva Novick adds that in an ideal world, parties would have their election advertising campaigns slashed. “Make do with the messages and slogans you bought for millions of shekels in the two previous rounds. There’s no reason the public should fund them again,” he says, adding that there’s zero justification to use public funds to rent out large stadiums for campaign events. “If a politician wants to give a speech, he can suffice by turning on Facebook Live from his living room.”
- Yedioth crunches the numbers to reveal that the state’s budget will absorb a $2.88 billion blow thanks to the year’s three elections. The paper laments how the money could have been used to build five new hospitals or 6,900 new classrooms, for example.
- Haaretz’s Amos Harel reports that the third election also has the IDF worried that its progressing efforts to achieve a long-term ceasefire with Hamas will be scuttled thanks to the lack of a permanent government to sign off on the move.
4. Fool me thrice, blame on you: As if they hadn’t had enough time to finger those responsible for the never-ending democratic malfunction, politicians and pundits continue to explain how their side played no role in the year’s third election.
- Haaretz’s Yossi Verter writes, “There’s only one man responsible for Israel’s third, redundant election: Netanyahu.” But the columnist goes on to explain that the 54 other members of his right-wing, religious bloc also brought this upon us.
- “What hold does he have over them? What magical influence does he wield? In private conversations all of them, without exception, admit that this is already beyond the beginning of the end, deep into the twilight. But with eyes wide shut, as if they were moonstruck, they are following him into this unnecessary, expensive and contemptible adventure,” Verter writes.
- In Israel Hayom, Danielle Roth-Avineri writes that Gantz failed to demonstrate a key leadership quality necessary for becoming prime minister — willingness to compromise by sitting with a premier under criminal indictment. “Blue and White stood its ground all the way to the ballot box,” she writes.
- Kan’s Roy Sharon argues that it wasn’t just Gantz: “The reason for these third elections: too many politicians who stood by their word,” he tweets.
5. Three’s a crowd: Netanyahu tweets out photos from a rally outside his Jerusalem residence, thanking the “thousands” who showed up to express their support.
- However, it is rather quickly noticed that the four photos showing what appeared to be closer to dozens of people had simply been taken from different angles. The premier eventually takes down the tweet after ten hours of mockery.
אלפים בציוץ רה״מ שבאו לתמוך בו. בפועל צילום מוכפל פעמיים עם תזוזה קלה הצידה. אותם אנשים. אולי עשרות. פייק רה״מ. pic.twitter.com/HLqR5CKY9G
— Sharon Goldenberg ✨ (@goldens32) December 11, 2019
- It was not the only walk-back Netanyahu was forced to carry out in 24 hours. The hardline Har Hamor yeshiva announced that it would be hosting the prime minister in what would have been the Likud leader’s first campaign stop this morning. But following outcry by left-wing lawmakers, who pointed out that the seminary’s leaders had founded the far-right, homophobic Noam party, Netanyahu’s office canceled the visit.
- As if he weren’t busy enough, Netanyahu found time to respond to State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, who sorta, kinda, not really compared the prime minister to a rapist.
- “Suppose there was a public persona that raped someone, and you were to say to me: ‘But most of the public voted for him.’ What does it matter? It doesn’t work that way in the modern democratic system,” Nitzan explains in a Channel 12 interview defending his decision to indict Netanyahu.
- “I am not comparing rape to the current charges, but it is impossible to make legal decisions like in a reality show. A person’s legal fate cannot be decided by a ballot,” he asserts.
- Netanyahu fires back in a tweet, saying: “It is shocking that Shai Nitzan is using rape victims to justify his obsessive witch hunt against me. Apparently there are no limits in the effort to topple the Likud government under my leadership. Shai Nitzan must apologize immediately — and first off to victims of rape.”
6. Definition of insanity: With a date for the year’s third election set for March 2, reporters have begun speculating what might be different this time and some of the predictions might not be much to your liking.
- Israel Hayom’s Mati Tuchfeld writes that a fourth consecutive election might actually be in the cards as the upcoming election campaign will only allow Blue and White and Likud to become more entrenched in their positions.
- The columnist points out that while some have gotten comfortable claiming that the two major parties share similar views on a range of issues, the differences are quite significant on matters pertaining to rule of law, which Blue and White will likely make the main issue of its campaign.
- Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson argues on a Knesset channel panel that the most likely way to prevent a result identical to what Israel received in the last election is for Liberman voters to find a different party to support after the right-wing politician campaigned on forcing a secular unity government with Likud and Blue and White but failed to do so.
- Pollster Mina Tzemach tells Army Radio that the upcoming election will be decided by those who fail to show up to the polls, disillusioned by a lawmaking body that has failed to get anything done in the past year.