Too early to celebrate stability before budget: analysis

Before the vote on the 2021 state budget began and before any real debate on the bill began, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman was already taking photos of the victory with his Yisrael Beytenu MPs in plenary session. from the Knesset on Tuesday morning.

People told Liberman afterward that a seasoned and veteran politician like him should know not to celebrate too soon.

The Hebrew phrase “you just count the money on the ladder” and the baseball legend Yogi Berra “it’s not over until it’s over” were applied. But in this case, Liberman is the one who gives the money away. And projecting confidence has its merits in the sport of politics.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appeared to be more cautious when he told cabinet on Wednesday that it would be exhausting days and nights before the budget becomes law.

But Bennett later added his own hyperbole when he said that “passing the budget would guarantee the stability of the country,” because an early election will be avoided.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, November 1, 2021 (credit: CHAIM TZACH / GPO)

With that statement, Bennett was guilty of the same crime of premature celebration as Liberman. To Liberman’s credit, he at least had a firm basis to believe that he would be proven right in three days. Bennett still has nearly 22 months in office to show that he has brought real stability.

Remember when passing a state budget and not holding multiple elections each year was not considered an achievement? Those feats will indeed bring normalcy, to use a word Liberman invoked when speaking to his faction on Monday.

However, delivering on the promise of real stability is a much more difficult challenge.

At that same cabinet meeting, Ayelet Shaked on the right and Merav Michaeli on the left fought over whether new Jewish communities should be built in the Negev, along with three new Bedouin communities that had been approved. Michaeli has also had a recent fight with Defense Minister Benny Gantz over the settlements and whether Palestinian NGOs should be designated as supporting terrorism.

Once the burden of passing the budget has passed, the ministers will inevitably unleash themselves and start fighting over everything. They will immediately try to fulfill their campaign promises, which is a recipe for political stalemate within the current government, even if elections are not on the way.

A poll Sunday indicating that Bennett’s Yamina party would not cross the electoral threshold could motivate him to take hasty action to win back voters. The 20-seat polls predicting for Yesh Atid could embolden the party’s leader, Yair Lapid, who would be the interim prime minister if the government falls after the budget is approved.

Bennett warned the cabinet that the opposition was seeking to impose chaos, dysfunction and disorder on the people of Israel by preventing the approval of the budget. Is there any guarantee that the Bennett government can prevent these pests if the budget passes?

Coalition deputies were told that during the marathon budget vote, they could not have tablets in plenary to minimize distractions. They were also warned that before voting they should limit themselves to light meals.

Perhaps that advice should be kept for the remainder of Bennett’s tenure, to avoid blurring and avoid political nausea.

If that works, when Bennett leaves office, he will be able to take many photos of the victory, knowing that the desired stability has been achieved.

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