JERUSALEM — After a record 12 years in office and a political crisis that resulted in four elections in two years, Israel is due to Swear In New Government on Sunday, which will put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into opposition.
The prime ministership will be taken over by Naftali Bennett, the leader of a tiny ultranationalist party. However, if he wants to preserve his position, he’ll have to maintain an unwieldy coalition of the political right, left, and center parties.
The eight parties, which include a small Arab party that is creating history by joining the government coalition, are unified in their opposition to Netanyahu and new elections, but there is nothing else on which they agree. They are expected to follow a moderate agenda that aims to de-escalate tensions with the Palestinians while maintaining good ties with the United States without taking any substantial steps.
Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, remains the leader of parliament’s largest party and is anticipated to oppose the new administration vehemently. If only one group deserts, the party might lose its majority and collapse, giving him an opportunity to reclaim power.
Bennett’s presentation to parliament before the vote highlighted the country’s significant differences. Several supporters of Netanyahu were hauled out of the chamber after he was repeatedly interrupted and noisily heckled.
Bennett pledged to maintain Netanyahu’s aggressive stance, saying, “Israel will not allow Iran to equip itself with nuclear weapons.” “Israel will not be a party to the deal and will retain complete operational autonomy.”
Bennett did, however, express gratitude to President Joe Biden and the United States for their decades of support for Israel.
“If we are meant to be in opposition, we will do so with our backs to the wall until we collapse this dangerous administration and return to lead the country in our own way,” he stated.
The new administration, according to Yohanan Plesner, head of the Israel Democracy Institute, a neutral research tank, will be more stable than it looks.
“Even if it has a slim majority, it will be tough to overthrow and replace since the opposition is fragmented,” says the author, “he said Each party in the alliance will want to demonstrate its ability to deliver, and they will need “time and successes” to do so.”
Netanyahu remains defiant “Plesner stated that the shadow will continue to cast. He anticipates the next opposition leader to take advantage of the situation and propose legislation that right-wing coalition members would like to support but is unable to do so, all in the hopes of embarrassing and undermining them.
Meanwhile, the new administration promises a return to normality following a chaotic two years that included four elections, an 11-day Gaza conflict last month, and a coronavirus outbreak that wreaked havoc on the economy before being mostly contained by a successful vaccination drive.
Yair Lapid, a political moderate who will become Prime Minister in two years if the government lasts that long, is the driving force behind the alliance.
He canceled a scheduled address to parliament, claiming he was embarrassed that his 86-year-old mother had to see his opponents’ rowdy conduct. In a short address, he requested “My mother’s forgiveness.”
“I wanted her to feel proud of Israel’s democratic process.” Instead, she, like every other Israeli citizen, feels embarrassed of you and understands why it’s time to replace you,” he stated.
The new administration is anticipated to secure a slim majority in the 120-member legislature and be sworn in shortly after. Later this evening, the government will convene its first formal meeting.
It’s uncertain if Netanyahu will leave his official house. He has used apocalyptic language to criticize the new administration, accusing Bennett of deceiving people by campaigning as a right-wing stalwart and then forming a coalition with the left.
Angry protests have taken place outside the houses of Netanyahu’s opponents, who claim they have received death threats naming their family members. Earlier this month, Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service issued a rare public warning about the incitement, warning that it may lead to bloodshed.
Netanyahu has criticized the provocation while acknowledging that he has been targeted as well.
He has a strong position in Israeli history, having served as Prime Minister for a total of 15 years, longer than any other person in the country’s history, including the country’s founder, David Ben-Gurion.
Netanyahu began his lengthy reign by rejecting the Obama administration by refusing to halt settlement expansion during the administration’s failed attempt to resurrect the peace process. Relations with Israel’s closest friend deteriorated further when Netanyahu campaigned vehemently against President Barack Obama’s looming nuclear agreement with Iran, even criticizing it in a speech to Congress.
However, he suffered few, if any, consequences as a result of the clashes, and was lavishly rewarded by the Trump administration, which recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, assisted in the brokering of normalization agreements with four Arab states, and pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Netanyahu has positioned himself as a world-class leader, praising Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin for their strong connections. He’s also built bridges with Arab and African nations that have long avoided Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians.
But he’s received a cold response from the Biden administration, and he’s largely regarded as undermining the US’s long record of bipartisan support for Israel.
His status as a political conjurer has dwindled at home, where he has become a divisive figure. Critics claim Netanyahu has long used a divide-and-conquer policy to exacerbate schisms in Israeli society between Jews and Arabs, as well as between his ultra-Orthodox friends and secular Jews.
He was charged with fraud, breach of trust, and receiving bribes in November of this year. Instead of stepping down, he slammed the media, the courts, and law enforcement, even accusing his political opponents of plotting a coup attempt. Protesters began conducting weekly protests around the country last year, demanding that he quit.
Netanyahu enjoys widespread support among Israel’s hard-line nationalists, but he may soon face a leadership challenge from inside his own party. A less controversial Likud leader would have a better chance of forming a coalition that is both more right-wing and more stable than the incoming administration.