19:04 GMT13 June 2021
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    On Monday, a bill to dissolve the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, was passed in a preliminary reading. The announcement comes as the deadline to form a coalition government is approaching without any progress having been made. Sputnik spoke about the issue with Edy Cohen, a research fellow at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Middle-East expert.

    Sputnik: The disagreements between Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties and ultranationalist secular parties is preventing the establishment of an Israeli Knesset coalition. In your view, how serious is Benjamin Netanyahu about dissolving the 21st Knesset? Could it be regarded as a means aimed at preventing the move and resolving the conflict?

    Edy Cohen: Indeed, this is a big conflict. The Israeli people don't want another election in the near future. And in the Israeli political system, which is multi-party, the small parties demand concessions; and everyone must make concessions. But Mr. Avigdor Lieberman didn't make enough concessions in order to form a cabinet and a government. So, these 24 hours are very critical; we might go to another election, unfortunately.

    Sputnik: How likely is it that parliament will be dissolved now, just after the election?

    Edy Cohen: The law says if a new parliament and cabinet is not formed in approximately two months, the Knesset will be dissolved and we'll have to choose another parliament, and another person will try to form a government. But we might have the same elections. This is the irony. We might have the same election results. So, Benjamin Netanyahu, when he will stand here in September or October in order, again, to form a government, things may not change a lot.

    Sputnik: Which parties stand to benefit from this political conflict?

    Edy Cohen: No one will benefit. You have to know that these elections cost public funds about $200 million. The political parties don't want to have another election; they don't want to risk their funds. The Likud Party has 75 seats. Everyone wants to keep what they won during the last election. The question is what is about Avigdor Lieberman. His party is making this conflict; maybe he would be last in the next elections, or maybe he would double and have 10 seats, now he has five seats. No one can predict the results.

    READ MORE: How Many is Too Many? A Guide to Every Political Party Running for the Knesset

    Sputnik: In your opinion, under what circumstances is it possible to reach an agreement for the Yisrael Beiteinu and Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties?

    Edy Cohen: Now it's not a conflict between the ultra-Orthodox parties and Avigdor Lieberman, it's a conflict between Avigdor Lieberman, the chief of Yisrael Beiteinu, and Benjamin Netanyahu. This is a man problem, ego problem. This is the real conflict, unfortunately. Tonight they might reach at least an agreement, but this is an ego conflict, it's not a political conflict. A lot of Israelis also think that this is a conspiracy theory, that Avigdor Lieberman is from the left side of the politics and does everything on purpose to harm Benjamin Netanyahu and have the left wing in power.

    Sputnik: In your view, what should be done to reach an agreement between the parties?

    Edy Cohen: Concessions, this is the key. Everyone must make concessions, the prime minister, Israeli Orthodox and especially Avigdor Lieberman. He must make concessions in order to form a new Cabinet. But as I said, it might be a problem of ego and not a political problem.

    Sputnik: In your view, why is it so important for Lieberman to force ultra-Orthodox religion students, who are largely exempt from conscription, to serve in the army?

    Edy Cohen: Most of the people who elected Lieberman are anti-religious. So, this is his law [against] ultra-Orthodox, he can't betray his voters, he does everything to gain this law and he got five seats. So, that's why he is fighting for what his voters voted for.

    Sputnik: What is your attitude toward this conflict? What is your take on it?

    Edy Cohen: I personally think that we are in a kindergarten with children that are running a country. With the irresponsible behaviour of Avigdor Lieberman… might drive us to another election; he might harm the economy of the country. I'm not defending Benjamin Netanyahu but he made concessions. And Avigdor Lieberman wants to be the winner; he is driving the country into elections. I think he is the bad guy.

    READ MORE: Netanyahu to Request Deadline Extension to Form New Government

    Yesterday [Netanyahu] he went to the television and spoke with the people. In case we go to elections, the [person] responsible is Avigdor Lieberman. So, now Avigdor Lieberman in the eyes of the people of Israel would be responsible for these future elections and this political conflict.

    Sputnik: What unforeseen consequences could we expect in case of repeated elections?

    Edy Cohen: As I said, there will be many consequences. First of all, everyone [will defend] the number of seats they gained during the elections. Secondly, economically we will spend $200 million and this might harm the Israeli market. And this is not a stable country when you make elections every four or five months. There might be everything to invest money in the country, but it's not politically stable. There're a lot of things.

    The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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