Right-wing leaders warned on Sunday that a third round of elections could be disastrous for their parties’ future.
New Right MK Bennett told Army Radio in the morning: “If we reach elections for the third time we will see a historic collapse of the right-wing bloc. We will find ourselves with a full-blown left-wing government.”
New Right chairwoman Ayelet Shaked likewise expressed forebodings, saying that “If we reach third elections, the right-wing rule is in danger. We could end up with a left-wing government.”
After Channel 13 reported that Blue and White offered Bennett and Shaked through “unofficial channels” two ministerial posts of their choice, National Union leader and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich decried the possibility, saying that “dissolving the right-wing bloc would be irresponsible foolishness,” leading to a leftist government like the one that brought the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, which “led to grave disasters.”
“Elections are bad but dissolving the right and forming an Oslo government are much worse,” Smotrich tweeted. “Leaders of the bloc must understand that the obstacle to a unity government is Gantz’s insistence on ruling out Netanyahu, and not the right’s unity.”
However, Prof. Asher Cohen, head of the Bar Ilan University’s School of Communication, disagreed on the implications of another election:
“If we look at data from the election campaign, we didn’t see a dramatic decrease in the right’s power. What happened is that the party of Liberman [Yisrael Beytenu], which has always been affiliated with the right, changed sides. After all, if you leave Liberman in the right bloc, the right has a majority of 63” seats.
“The number of people who define themselves as right is the largest group in Israel and make up more than fifty percent of the Jewish population. I don’t see how the right-wing will suffer some kind of dramatic downfall of five or ten seats. Where would they move to? They had the chance to do that in the first or second elections.
“The real question of third elections is mainly – what will be different? Why won’t the results be the same thing – that nobody has a majority and Liberman remains in the middle? It would be an unnecessary election, but I don’t think the right will be decimated,” said Cohen.
Addressing the view that some politicians have taken that a third MK will likely be chosen to form a government and will have an easier time after Gantz returns the mandate, Cohen said it was based on a misreading of the situation:
“The politicians themselves do not understand the dynamics,” Cohen told Arutz Sheva on Sunday. “Anyone who speaks about the end of the period of Benny Gantz and says everything will close in the last 21 days has to remember a significant point. In those 21 days, when no candidate has been assigned the position, it is much, much more difficult.
“At that stage, 61 Knesset members are needed to sign for a candidate. Try to imagine 61 signatories – if by chance there will be – on a letter [whose] intent is – I violated an election promise. Will Liberman’s signature be written after Ofer Cassif’s [sole Jewish member of Arab Joint List party] signature? Where will 61 signatories appear from for a candidate who didn’t exist previously? That’s why this is a matter that should be closed in the next two and a half weeks.”
But on the all-important point of the urgency of avoiding another election, Cohen fully agrees: “A third election is a terrible thing. There are all kinds of implications that aren’t political. The whole world is looking at Israel. It can harm Israel’s credit rating. Its whole image can change.
“Two elections – it happens. There is almost no parliamentary democracy where it hasn’t happened. Three times – in less than a year – it seems problematic.”