Thursday, January 30, 2003
Okay, we have the real, final tallies of the Israeli election. And they will make Sharon smile: one more seat each for Likud and the National Religious Party, the seats coming from One Nation and Hadash (the Communist Party).
This means that, if necessary, Likud can form a narrow government with its most natural partners that will be relatively stable, as it will not depend on National Union. Sharon can even do it without One Nation *or* Yisrael B'Aliyah, although one would presume that YBA would support the government even if it didn't join in order to focus on rebuilding the party. Sharon can get to 60 with just Shas, United Torah Judaism and the National Religious Party. YBA supporting from outside gives it a 2-vote margin.
I'm inclining more and more to the proposition that Shinui will join this government. His pow-wow with Labor made Mitzna look absurd, and he left the meeting saying two important things: (1) he'll sit with Shas if the Tal law on yeshivah-student draft exemptions is ended; (2) he won't be "held hostage" by Labor but would join a government without them if the guidelines are acceptable. So I may get to give Lapid points for being responsible after all.
Opening #1, by the way, is essential for Sharon, because snubbing Shinui would be a problem for him, but snubbing Shas would be a disaster. I wonder what would happen if Sharon were to make repeal of the Tal law and an end - or dramatic reduction - in yeshivah deferments a part of the coalition guidelines, and then approached Shas about being in the government? I wonder if Shas could bend on this matter in order to stay at the government trough they need to feed at to survive? Even more than Labor, if Shas stayed out of government for long, they would cease to exist. Could they bend enough to let Tommy declare victory and sit beside them?
This coalition game is getting interesting.