In the latest turn of events in Israel, the head of the Yamina party, Naftali Bennett won the vote of confidence in the Knesset, however, just by one vote. He will be heading an unexpected coalition of left-wing, centrist, right-wing, and Arab parties, the so-called “government of change”. This coalition of unlikely partners which represent the entirety of the political spectrum is extremely vulnerable to a breakdown and while, all this is going on, Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to topple the new “dangerous government”.
For the time being, Netanyahu will remain as head of the Likud party and become the leader of the opposition. While it is a bit sad for Benjamin Netanyahu to be defeated in the vote of confidence, by 60 votes to 59, a margin of just one, it also goes on to show how fragile this coalition government is and how easily it can crumble. And it is exactly these fault lines, which Netanyahu will use to make sure that he topples the government.
Speaking ahead of the vote, Netanyahu said, “If it is destined for us to be in the opposition, we will do it with our backs straight until we topple this dangerous government and return to lead the country in our way. With God’s help, it will happen a lot earlier than you think it will.” The longest-serving Prime Minister of Israel said that Naftali Bennett did not have the right credentials to lead Israel. Netanyahu claimed that he “does not have the international standing.”
The change government has seemingly worked out all their differences, bridged all the gaps and accepted each other as partners. However, a rather large thorn continues to pinch the Change front led by Naftali Bennett. The parties are all divided – by wide margins – on who should take control over the West Bank. The Change Coalition is comprised of parties from the far-right, centre-right, centre, centre-left and far-left. Needless to say, this is a recipe of disaster for Israel.
And to make the matter worse – the Change coalition also has Islamist Arab parties as a part of the upcoming government. This is the first time after the 1950’s that an Arab party will be sharing power with a government in Israel. The Arab parties are sympathetic to the ‘Palestinian cause’ and now, they too are stakeholders in a government whose West Bank policy is messed up, if not completely non-existent. The fact that they are barely hanging onto the government with one vote will make matters worse, given the coalition partners would need to sacrifice the interests of Israel just to hold on to power.
The only thing that the coalition can agree upon and which made them forget their differences to stay together was the task of unseating Netanyahu. Now with that task completed, there is nothing that they will agree upon, be it in the sphere of national security, domestic policy or foreign policy. And this is exactly what was stressed by Benjamin Netanyahu as he said, “Naftali Bennett doesn’t have the credibility, he doesn’t have the capabilities, he doesn’t have the knowledge and he doesn’t have the governmental support to allow him a real defence [against Iran].”
True to his assertions, as per media reports, the new government largely plans to avoid sweeping moves on the international stage, such as policy toward the Palestinians and plans to focus on domestic reforms. In a way, it is saying that we will forgo all the important matters that impact the security interests and may threaten the sovereignty of the country for the sake of “bridging the political divides.”
In his 12 years in office, Benjamin Netanyahu gave the most confident and dedicated leadership to Israel and he maintained his utmost priority to secure Israel’s security interests, without any compromise. And in the recent history of the country, no other leader has given such direction and leadership to the Jewish nation as Netanyahu.
Going ahead, the political parties which are currently a part of the change coalition will find it difficult to maintain their power as more and more people will start realising that Israel under Netanyahu’s leadership was much better. And as these fissures widen, centrist politicians like Benny Gantz and his party will find it much more reasonable to side with Netanyahu and take him up on his offer of making him the Prime Minister than to sacrifice his political career by compromising the interests of Israeli citizens.