It turns out that the reluctant right-wing MKs had the right instincts and, like the locker in Rat Race, Liberman’s supposed offer was an empty one.
The 2001 comedy-caper Rat Race tells the story of a Las Vegas casino tycoon, played by John Cleese, who devises a game where six teams – the members of which are played by Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rowan Atkinson and others – race from Sin City to Silver City, Mexico, where there is $2 million in a luggage locker. The first team to get to the locker gets to keep the money. What the racers don’t know is that casino patrons bet on who will win.
High jinks ensue, of course. But – 18-year-old spoiler alert – the locker that was supposed to be stuffed with cash turns out to be empty.
First, Channel 12 reported that Liberman was willing to have his eight MKs sign petitions for both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form the next government, which would then give them two weeks to do so, delaying the deadline that automatically triggers a new election. The motivation was to prevent a third election in less than a year by giving the candidates more time to work things out, despite their multiple failed attempts at coalition-building.
Taking the rumor as fact, Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar jumped into action, setting a 9 a.m. deadline for himself, so he could beat Blue and White to submit signatures to President Reuven Rivlin.
As Zohar’s initiative gained momentum – having gathered signatures from all of the Likud’s MKs, even Netanyahu rival Gideon Sa’ar, by Sunday morning – Blue and White started working on its own petition.
In the meantime, Zohar tried to get the rest of the right-wing bloc to cooperate. They were much less enthusiastic, figuratively rolling their eyes at Liberman who was once again throwing the whole political sphere into disarray.
Nothing of note happened on Sunday at 9 a.m., despite Zohar’s self-imposed deadline, and by the afternoon, Liberman reverted to his position of the past few months.
“When people ask again and again, what does Liberman want,” Liberman wrote on Facebook, “my answer was always clear and transparent: a unity government based on the three parties, Blue and White, Likud and Yisrael Beytenu. Only a government like this can deliver real moves and neutralize the influence of the haredi [ultra-Orthodox] parties.”
A Likud and Blue and White confab took place anyway on Sunday afternoon – which had nothing to do with Liberman – hosted by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, but no progress was made, and the parties continued to blame one another for the political impasse.
Rat Race ends with the tycoon being tricked into giving millions of dollars to charity; a happy ending and a suitable punishment for a cynical character.
However, the latest chapter in our saga ended much as it began, with a knot that seems impossible to untangle as Blue and White and Likud continue to be entrenched in their positions, and with the Knesset careening toward yet another election. Not quite the happy ending Israelis deserve for this long political story.