The Israeli Coalition Crisis

Most non-Israelis will be flabbergasted at the origin of the current Government Coalition crisis in Israel.  It has been caused by the dispute over the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and whether or not it should be closed down and replaced by a similar agency.  The origin of this situation goes back to previous Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who decided that the cost of the IBA to the Government was exorbitant. Current Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has committed to abolish the IBA and  replace it with another agency (I have described this situation in my blog posting “Self-Inflicted Wound” on  March 16).

Since there was a Coalition agreement with the Likud Party of PM Netanyahu and since Netanyahu wished to avoid a Coalition crisis early in his term, he acquiesced in this stupidity.  But, as time has gone on Netanyahu has gradually moved away from support of this political act.  In fact, finally he has come out and stated that he will no longer honor  his earlier agreement to allow Kahlon to go ahead with this plan.  He has stated that he is even prepared to allow the Government to fall and go to new elections over this.  

One might accept his argument that it is because he has discovered that in fact such a plan will be more expensive for the Government than less, or because this plan is widely unpopular.  But, possibly the real reason for his about-turn is that it will embarrass Kahlon, a potential rival whose political career might be damaged by causing  a major political crisis in Israel.   Whether either men will risk this outcome or whether both or one of them is bluffing remains to be seen.  But, it is an indication of the nature of politics in Israel that a Government crisis can have such trivial origins.  

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