Four elections within two years in Israel have always resulted in a stalemate. Now the opponents of Prime Minister Netanyahu want to forge an alliance. However, it looks like a political patchwork quilt.
In Israel, a coalition is emerging to replace the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The leader of the ultra-right Jamina party, Naftali Bennett, said in Jerusalem on Sunday that he would do everything possible to forge an alliance with opposition leader Jair Lapid of the Future Party. According to media reports, the goal is a rotation in the office of prime minister: First, ex-defense minister Bennett should take over this for two years, then it would be Lapid’s turn.
If such a government actually comes about, the Netanyahu era would be over. The now 71-year-old has been Prime Minister since 2009. Before that, the politician was head of government in the second half of the 1990s.
“Dangerous Left Government”
Netanyahu attacked Bennett after his announcement that evening, accusing him of breaking his campaign promise not to form a coalition with Lapid. The Likud chairman warned of a “dangerous left government” and called for the formation of a “good right-wing government”.
However, Bennett previously said it had become clear that right-wing government was currently impossible. The only options are a fifth election or a unity government with Lapid. “The political crisis in Israel is unprecedented anywhere in the world,” said Bennett. He accused Netanyahu of a destructive policy of division.
So Netanyahu’s time could be over
In the parliamentary elections on March 23, Lapid’s Future Party, located in the political center, had become the second strongest force behind Netanyahu’s Likud. However, the fourth election within two years did not result in a clear majority. Netanyahu had failed to form a government, so on May 5, President Reuven Rivlin commissioned Lapid. The mandate is only valid until Wednesday at midnight.
After an official announcement of the alliance with Bennett, Lapid would first have to inform Rivlin and then have seven days to swear in the government in parliament. This requires a simple majority of the 120 MPs in the Knesset. If this succeeds, the Netanyahu era would be over. No head of government has held office in Israel for longer.
Lapid wants to gather several small parties behind him
Netanyahu continued to fight his replacement over the weekend. On Sunday, he offered Bennett and his arch rival Gideon Saar from the right-wing Tikva Chadascha (New Hope) party a coalition with the three prime ministers rotating. In a Twitter video, he spoke of a “fateful moment for the security, character and future of the State of Israel”. Saar, who was to become the first head of government after this proposal, rejected the proposal.
Lapid’s Future Party held coalition talks with Saars Tikva Chadascha (New Hope) on Sunday. It has already reached agreements with the left-liberal Meretz party, the labor party and the far-right Israel Beitenu party led by former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Lapid wants to bring together several small parties that are far apart in the political spectrum. It would presumably be a minority government that is tolerated by Arab MPs.
“He’s probably planning to hold a fifth election pretty soon”
What unites the parties is above all the rejection of Netanyahu, against whom a corruption process is running. However, their political goals diverge widely, and the expected government resembles a political patchwork quilt. Political expert Tal Schneider said on Sunday that a difficult balancing act would be necessary in the coalition agreements on issues such as the two-state solution with the Palestinians.
After his replacement, Netanyahu sees her in the role of an active opposition leader. “He probably thinks that this government will collapse very quickly,” said Schneider. In that case, he counts on his victory in another new election. “He’s probably planning to hold a fifth election pretty soon.”