It appears that the anti-Netanyahu faction in the Israeli government now has enough support to form a government that would oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power.
Yamina leader Naftali Bennett told his party’s Knesset members that he had reached a power-sharing agreement with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid that, if completed in the next few days, would end Netanyahu’s 12-year rule.
This was an unexpected move by Bennett who appeared to previously reject the idea of a coalition with Yesh Atid, whose secular centrist policies didn’t sit well with many of Yamina’s conservative members. But under the tentative coalition agreement, Bennett would become prime minister first, followed by Lapid at some time later.
With Bennett on board, and indeed set to serve first as prime minister in a tentative rotation agreement between them, Lapid and his improbable mix of anti-Netanyahu partners from across the political spectrum would appear to have enough Knesset support to oust Netanyahu. However, the possibility of lawmakers defecting or absenting themselves, combined with Israel’s fast-shifting current affairs, means that uncertainty will prevail until the Knesset approves a new government, with a vote on that not expected for several more days. The nascent coalition apparently has the support of 61 MKs in the 120-seat Knesset, so even a single defection could deprive it of a majority.
Indeed, the “change bloc” is a diverse mishmash of several parties whose agendas may actually clash at times. Bennett says he won’t govern from the left despite Yesh Atid’s more liberal policy proposals.
On security, there isn’t going to be much of an argument, lest an enemy tries to take advantage of Israel’s political squabbles.
What is taking shape with Lapid “is a national unity government of equal forces, and I don’t apologize,” he reportedly said. “I’m proud of our actions under these difficult circumstances. That’s what we’re about — taking responsibility… Bibi [Netanyahu] offered everything, with one exception: establishing a government.”
He added: “We have red lines and we’ll uphold them. We won’t relinquish territory and we won’t harm the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.”
The uniting expedient for the change bloc is distrust of Netanyahu. But the prime minister isn’t out yet, and there are rumblings from some Yamina MKs about joining any left-of-center party.
The unlikely government would bring together parties from the right (Yamina, Yisrael Beytenu, New Hope), center (Yesh Atid, Blue and White) and left (Labor, Meretz), with support from the Arab Ra’am party (apparently from outside the coalition), in a unity government that would seek to extricate Israel from two years of political stagnation, spearhead the country’s recovery from coronavirus and heal societal rifts in a deeply divided nation.
The Arab Ra’am party has not fully committed to joining the Lapid/Bennett coalition but it’s believed since they have nowhere else to go, they will join out of a lack of options.
The 12 years Israel was governed by Likud and Netanyahu have been stormy. Now, it doesn’t seem likely that either Lapid or Bennett can unite the country to face the challenges ahead. Neither appears forceful enough. That’s why it’s even money that another election is on the way, giving Netanyahu another chance to rule.