Israel’s President Rivlin is due to make a decision on October 24 on whether to extend for another 14 days the mandate he granted to Benjamin Netanyahu to form Israel’s next Government.
Reports that Rivlin will not give Netanyahu that 14 days extension – even if requested by Netanyahu – seems counterproductive to doing everything possible to avoid a third election within 12 months.
The President should also take advantage of that 14 day period to order a recount of votes to answer a query that the September election results have thrown up – which is encapsulated in this email I sent to the Central Elections Committee on 29 September:
“I would be pleased if you could give me an explanation to my following comment relating to the final count in the September 2019 elections:The April election results were mired in confusion due to a bug in the Central Elections Committee website. The displayed data indicated for several hours that the New Right party was just above the threshold with 3.26%, but officials said that was a mistake.
Thank you for helping me to understand how this could occur.”
- There was an increase of 127,536 in the number of eligible votes cast from 4,309,270 in April 2019 to 4,436,806 in September. Yet there was an increase of 133,103 alone just in the Joint List vote (470211) over the Hadash-Tal and Ram-Balad vote (337108) in April.
The officials said the bug on the site meant that it was not showing accurate numbers for total votes counted, and was thus displaying inaccurate figures for all parties. This was rectified.
Could this same mistake have happened again in September and not have been rectified?
I have not yet received a reply to my request.
The distribution of Knesset seats is very complicated and the summary issued by the Central Committee needs to be amplified and explained.
Allowing Netanyahu another 14 days would, therefore, seem to be in the national interest from everyone’s standpoint – especially if Netanyahu requests it.
Calling on Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to try and form a Government can wait another 14 days – given that Netanyahu’s bloc has a clear electoral majority over the Ganz bloc – 1,973,246 votes to 1,556,491 votes.
President Trump – like bemused Israeli voters – is frustrated by an electoral system that has failed to produce a new Government following elections in April and September.
After April’s fiasco – Trump opined:
“Well, it’s too bad what happened in Israel. It looked like a total win for Netanyahu, who’s a great guy, he’s a great guy,” said the president. “And now they’re back… in the election stage. That is too bad. Because they don’t need this. I mean they’ve got enough turmoil over there, it’s a tough place.”That turmoil continued in September and could be repeated following any third election.
Trump’s deal of the century – years in the making and designed to end the 100 years Jewish-Arab conflict – will not be released until a new Israeli Government has been formed.
Liberman’s failure to sign up his 8 seats with the 55 seats aligned with Netanyahu continues to confound the democratic electoral process – when a party not securing a majority of seats in its own right can usually form a Government with a small party’s support – in return for granting that small party some of its political demands.
A full recount of the votes cast in the September 17 elections – if still legally available – could be just the miracle Israel needs to get out of its current predicament.
Clutching at straws maybe – but certainly well worth pursuing.
Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones” — one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog