Israel is having a do-over election.
I hate the term do-over because it isn’t a do-over.
It is a new election, albeit five months after the last election.
Five months since the mud-slinging, fear-mongering and lying stopped.
But still. This is not a do-over. It is actually democracy at work.
We Israelis elected 120 people to our national legislature. Their first job was to form a government. A ruling government coalition. It had to be a majority. They had to agree to work together.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not get 61 lawmakers to sign on the dotted line and agree to be a member of his government. He wanted an across-the-board, right-wing government. But all the potential right-wing parties could not agree on all the issues or, frankly, how to get along.
He could have passed the leadership baton of the Likud party to another lawmaker in the hopes that he or she could form a government under the Likud Party with its 35 seats. He could have admitted defeat and allowed President Reuven Rivlin to again ask all of the parties with seats in the Knesset who they would support to be prime minister and allow that person to form a new government.
But what he decided to do was propose legislation to dissolve the 51-day-old Knesset and go to new elections in the hopes that he will have better luck next time – should he be the one tapped to form the next government.
Netanyahu and Likud did not do this alone. A majority of votes in the Knesset was needed to pass the legislation to make the 21st Knesset history. And it passed with 75 votes (for those keeping score, that’s 62.5 percent).
And here we are. Wondering if and how the results of this new election will be any different.
But there already are new political alliances forming. Not because any of the politicians love each other that much, but because they want a different outcome.
On the right, Likud and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu have agreed to run on a joint list – not a merger, just a joint list, but it could give both parties’ numbers a little boost. And some of the parties further to the right of Likud are negotiating to form a mega-right wing party – Jewish Home, The New Right, Otzma Yehudit-Jewish Power and possibly even the Libertarian-leaning, marijuana-legalizing party Zehut.
On the left, the Labor Party is looking to hitch its wagon to the star of Benny Gantz and the Blue and White Party, though the farther-left Meretz Party is also looking for a joint list with Labor (which is going to vote on a new party head after Avi Gabbay was outed for negotiating to join the Netanyahu government), and the Arab parties that in 2015 ran together on a joint list but ran in pairs in the last election for a loss of three seats are looking to run together again.
It probably will take another week or so for the dust to settle and then we will have a better look at the field. It’s not going to be pretty.
I, for one, am welcoming the opportunity for a second chance.
During the last election campaign, I tuned out a lot of issues, some that are even important to me, to focus on a couple issues that really push my buttons – namely security and keeping my home.
I voted for the candidate who hammered home his track record on security and on not evacuating any Jews from the settlements. I forgot about education, justice, affordable food and housing, to name a few.
This time, I am going to try harder to block out the noise and the mud-slinging and the fear-mongering so that I can get to the heart of all of those issues. It could change my vote.
Marcy Oster is a former Ohio resident who covers the Middle East for the Columbus Jewish News from Karnei Shomron in the West Bank.