American, Israeli Governments Mirrored in Dysfunction

American, Israeli Governments Mirrored in Dysfunction

With the partial government shutdown in the United States approaching its third week, America is not the only nation struggling with its mandate.

With the partial government shutdown in the United States approaching its third week, America is not the only nation struggling with its mandate. Israel dissolved the Knesset Dec. 24 in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed was a unanimous decision by the heads of the coalition parties. New elections are scheduled for April 9, eight months earlier than required by law.

The United States shutdown began over disagreements between legislators and President Donald Trump over funding the $5.7 billion the president requested to begin construction on a wall at the Southern border. This, despite Republican majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate until the Democrats took control of the House on Jan. 3.

While a deal to reopen the U.S. government is always possible, signs point to little progress being made in the near future. The then-Republican majority House already passed a continuing resolution — resuming government operations at prior spending levels — but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow it to the floor, citing the president’s unwillingness to sign anything that doesn’t include his wall funding.

Similar to the situation in the U.S., Netanyahu’s right-wing party also held a slim majority in the Knesset but struggled to pass a bill that would make ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students draft-eligible, following an order from the Israel Supreme Court in September of 2017.

Because many Orthodox members of Netanyahu’s coalition disagreed with the contents of the bill, the majority was unable to move forward, and the bill ultimately failed amidst criminal investigations of Netanyahu and some of his closest allies for charges including bribery and fraud.

Members of opposition parties were able to relax somewhat following the dissolution.

“It is impossible to continue with a government whose Prime Minister is under recommendation of indictments of the state attorneys and the police for fraud,” Zionist Union member Shelly Yachimovich said.

Yachimovich also called the upcoming elections “a sigh of relief.”

Election drama doesn’t stop there, as both sides of the aisle are experiencing shakeups. Right-wing party Habayit Hayehudi is contemplating cancelling its primary following departures of senior ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, according to a Jan. 3 report by Haaretz.

The party cited increasing election costs, estimated at several million shekels, as a reason for the cancellation.

The left is also experiencing some uncertainty with elections on the horizon, as Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay announced on Jan. 1 that the Zionist Union would be disbanding. The Union was a coalition joining the Labor party with the Hatnuah Party, led by Tzipi Livni.

Gabbay explained in a press conference that he “still believes in partnerships and connections,” but that “successful connections require friendship, abiding by agreements, and loyalty to the path ahead.”

The announcement of the coalition’s dissolution took Livni by surprise, according to Haaretz. Gabbay also called out Livni days later for refusing to rule out joining a future coalition led by Netanyahu.

Labor party members have reportedly begun collecting signatures with the intent of ousting Gabbay.

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