20:51 GMT31 July 2021
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    As Blue and White leader Benny Gantz continues to hold coalition talks in an attempt to form a unity government, a former member of the Israeli Parliament says the Israeli public is not interested in unity.

    Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is set to continue his round of coalition talks, meeting chief of Israel Beitenu Avigdor Lieberman in the afternoon at the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset.

    The two have vowed to work towards a unity government but Ksenia Svetlova, a political analyst and a former member of the Israeli Parliament from the party Hatnua believes that the Israeli public didn't go to the polls to vote for unity.

    No Unity Wanted

    "People didn't vote for a unity government. Many chose Gantz because he was running with a campaign promise of never to sit down in a government with Netanyahu if he was under an indictment. Gantz, unlike other politicians, tends to keep his promises", she stated.

    Neither does the public want another set of elections. A poll conducted by one of Israel's leading newspapers Israel Hayom at the end of September suggested that some 60 percent of Israelis were not interested in another round of elections, which would be the third time this year. Only 29 percent said they were supportive of a unity government.

    High Cost of Elections

    Israel's taxpayers forked out a pretty penny in April when voters took to the polls for the first time - paying some $200 million. The cost of the second round stood at $500 million. 

    But Svetlova believes that if a solution is not found, all cards are on the table, including another set of elections.

    "I hope we will not be like our neighbours in Lebanon, who haven't been able to form a government for two and a half years. But under the current circumstances everything is possible", she said.

    Yesterday, Netanyahu's former spokesman Shai Bazak said in an interview that had the elections been held today, Israel would have woken up to the same results, with the two main parties - Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Blue and White - getting an even amount of seats.

    His words are supported by a recent poll - conducted by Channel 13 - suggesting that Blue and White and Likud would have gotten 34 and 33 seats respectively if elections were to be held today.

    But Svetlova doesn't share these views. "The same results are not possible simply because Israel's political map will change. Ben Gvir's Otzma Yehudit (a religious far-right party) will not run this time. We might also see alliances like, for example, between the left-wing parties, something that didn't happen during the last round", she stressed.

    Something Has to Change

    One thing is certain, believes the expert, the current political system, where smaller parties dictate their demands and blackmail larger parties, has to cease to exist.

    "In the not so remote past, Israel tried a system of direct elections (where voters had to cast two tickets: one for the party, the other - for the prime minister - ed.) but this and other similar electoral reforms have failed".

    Israel went back to its original voting system, where Knesset members are elected as part of rosters of specific lists that participate in elections. Lists that manage to pass the threshold of 3.25 percent enter the Israeli Parliament. While this encourages pluralism of thoughts and worldviews, the current system has been widely criticised for paralysing the country's prime minister making his ability to govern a mission impossible.

    But until a solution is found, it seems that Israel's smaller parties will continue to be kingmakers who shape Israel's political landscape. 

    Israel, Knesset, Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz, government, Parliament, Avigdor Lieberman
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