Stress test for the new Israeli coalition

The leader of the Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid, informed the President (now with the prefix ex-) of Israel Reuven Rivlin (who was replaced in this post by Yitzhak Herzog) on ​​Wednesday that he had managed to form a coalition to create a cabinet following the March 23 elections.

Stress test for the new Israeli coalition

This happened a few hours before the expiration of his mandate. Lapid promised that the future government would “work for the benefit of all Israeli citizens, those who voted for him and those who did not vote,” as well as “respect their opponents” and “do everything possible to unite and reunite all part of the Israeli society ”.

The government will include the parties “Yesh Atid”, “Kahol-Lavan”, “Yamina”, “Avoda”, “Our Home is Israel”, “New Hope”, “Meretz” and “Raam”. Yamin leader Naftali Bennett will become prime minister and Lapid will be the alternate prime minister. In about two years, there will be a rotation, after which Lapid will become prime minister and Bennett will become an alternate prime minister. This is how the balance of power is seen in the presidential administration of the country.

In early May, the President of Israel instructed Lapid to form a government coalition following the March 23 elections after Netanyahu failed to cope with this task in the 28 days allotted to him, who was given the first to try, as his Likud party won the most seats based on the counting of votes. Lapid was given 28 days to try to create a Cabinet of Ministers and, as we can see, he was on the verge, but still coped with his task.

The press recalls that the 49-year-old leader of Yamina, Bennett, from 2006 to 2008 worked as chief of the office of the then opposition Netanyahu. From 2010 to 2012, he headed the Council of Jewish Settlements in the West Bank of the Jordan River and with all his might opposed the freeze of settlement activity in the Palestinian territories, and when he was Minister of Defense in the Cabinet of Ministers of Netanyahu several years ago he advocated the occupation of most of the West Bank. Bennett then founded the Jewish Home party, which, as part of the New Rights bloc, won five seats in parliament in the April 2019 elections, and then joined the Yamina movement, which was the first in a series of re-elections in September of the same year. received seven deputy mandates.

Former journalist Lapid is a centrist. But the Meretz party, which is part of the coalition, is on the opposite flank from Bennett and advocates an immediate end to Israel’s occupation of the occupied Palestinian territories. The Palestinian side expressed itself in the sense that even if this coalition is approved and the Bennett-Lapid Cabinet is sworn in, nothing will change, since such a government will be as right-wing as Netanyahu’s cabinet on the main topics of the conflict.

Theoretically, Netanyahu’s opponents have chances to form a “government of change”, but in practice, until the very last moment, that is, right up to the vote at the plenary session of the Knesset on the question of confidence in the new Cabinet, there is no 100% guarantee that they will be able to come to power. This was stated in an interview with TASS by the deputy of the Knesset of the previous – 23rd – convocation from the block of parties “Yesh Atid” – “Telem” Andrey Kozhinov.

According to him, the Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will now “have at least a week to put pressure on the Yamina party and other potential members of the future coalition in order to achieve the failure of the new government when voting in parliament”. The coalition assembled by Lapid controls a minimum majority of 61 seats in the 120-seat parliament, and refusing to vote in support of a coalition of one or two MPs could lead to its failure.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu himself believes that the Bennett-Lapid government will bring the country to disaster. He has been in power in Israel continuously since 2009 and currently remains the head of the transitional cabinet until a new one is sworn in. According to the head of the Israel and Jewish Communities Department of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Dmitry Maryasis, the “era of Netanyahu” is likely to come to an end.

It is interesting that Maryasis characterizes the new government as fragmented and weakly viable.

“The standard cadence in Israel is four years, but the new government is unlikely to hold out for at least two years”, – the expert explains. In his opinion, Netanyahu, as a master of political intrigue, can still present several surprises to his opponents.

According to Maryasis, one should not expect significant changes in both domestic and foreign policy from the new government.

“The Arab party in government is a significant change, the Arabs will probably be listened to more strongly. But there will be no fundamental changes”, – the expert explained. Much depends on how successfully the Raam Party can communicate its position to the government. For the administration of US President Joe Biden, ex-defense minister Bennett as prime minister will be “no less tough than Netanyahu, and maybe more tough”.

A similar situation arose at the end of the last century, when Shimon Peres, who later became the country’s president, formally created a coalition, but several deputies disappeared during the vote in parliament, and it never became reality.

“Lapid and Bennett have formed a coalition on paper, but Netanyahu will fight to the end”, – writes the Times of Israel.

Many experts share this point of view. By all accounts, Lapid’s coalition is a patchwork quilt. Internal contradictions do not allow them to discuss the main ideological topics: the issues of the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation, Jewish settlements and the peace process, the problems of relations between religion and the state in Israel. Such a discussion would immediately lead to the end of any coalition negotiations. On major ideological issues, they have irreconcilable differences, experts say. Coalition members are trying to put aside the so-called explosive topics and try to focus only on what they have a consensus around.

The Times of Israel notes that “the process of securing a majority in the Knesset when voting to approve the composition of the Cabinet will be extremely difficult.”

“There is no doubt that Netanyahu will do everything possible to make the task as difficult as possible, as he is desperately fighting to maintain power”, – the newspaper writes, pointing out that the main focus of pressure will be members of Bennett’s own national-religious right-wing Yamin bloc.

In fact, according to a number of analysts, Netanyahu’s opponents were able to create a “paper coalition”, the main “glue” of which is the general rejection of Netanyahu himself. Whether the strength of this conviction is enough to prevent all those gathered from drowning in the depths of their own contradictions is not yet clear. So in the near future the new coalition will have to pass a stress test, the result of which is not at all as obvious as it seems at first glance.

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