Will Bennett beat his former mentor Netanyahu? | Benjamin Netanyahu


The Netanyahu family has experience moving their belongings outside the prime minister’s official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem. In 2016, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of stunned settlers evicted from their homes in the illegal Amona site in the West Bank: “I understand what it means to lose a home. After the 1999 election, without any warning, my family and I were evicted from our house on Balfour Street. So with all our belongings, they just threw us on the street. We had to go to the Sheraton Plaza hotel, we thought it was terrible. “

The Likud party won 19 seats in the Knesset in the 1999 elections, seven less than the Labor party, led by Ehud Barak. Barak’s government, like the jury on June 13, was a diverse coalition of parties, with Meretz on the left, the Hamerkaz party at the center, and the ultra-Orthodox parties on the right. The association lasted less than two years.

What can that short-lived government teach us about the future of the new Israeli government led by Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid? What are the prospects of their diverse coalition of Jewish conservative right-wing parties, whose leaders are committed to the settlement company and lawmakers of the Meretz party that boycotts manufactured goods in the settlements? Merav Michaeli, president of the Labor Party, can take on the fierce defender of women’s rights with Conservative Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who has pledged to deport asylum seekers and their families?

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s letters are much worse than those handed out by Barak in 1999. First of all, there has never been an Israeli prime minister or any leader of any democracy, whose party only won the 6 percent of the vote (translated into seven seats in the 120-member Knesset, one of which opposes the new government). Bennett is a default option, the best of the three highly imperfect alternatives, the other two being the continuation of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government after 12 years in power, or a fifth round of elections that is expected to perpetuate the political stalemate. The new government, both in its composition and in its guidelines, is not, therefore, the ideal choice of its left-wing or right-wing components.

Bennett, as well as Yisrael Beitenu party leader Avigdor Lieberman and New Hope party president Gideon Saar would have felt more comfortable in the company of his former Likud party comrades who would not have sat next to representatives. of Labor, Meretz and the Palestinian List) parties. The common denominator of the new government is its disgust at Netanyahu’s personality and his accusation of corruption charges.

The center-right partners of the new government are in tune with their ideology and their foreign and defense policy. Presumably, if Netanyahu relinquishes his Likud leadership, or if his party colleagues are reluctant to oust him, many in the new government will negotiate a partnership with the Likud.

However, Netanyahu declared war on his successor even before he started packing and moving to opposition banks. Netanyahu of 2021 is not the same young prime minister defeated 22 years ago who withdrew from politics. This time, he enjoys the support of legions of supporters and an army of violent robots.

In the last days of government, with the earth burned beneath their feet, the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties and their rabbis joined the heart of incitement against Bennett. The language they adopted and their infernal threats were reminiscent of the atmosphere that prevailed in the months leading up to the November 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

One of the first challenges for the new government will be to suppress these flames, restore confidence in the country’s legal system, the police and the media, and try to instill respect for pluralism.

The architects of the strange Bennett-Lapid coalition were well aware that the opposition would identify cracks in its building and plant explosives to exploit it. These explosives include legislation on highly sensitive issues, such as the relationship between religion and state, the annexation of Palestinian territories, LGBTQ rights, and the recognition of the progressive currents of Judaism that challenge the monopoly of ultra-Orthodox establishment.

To deactivate these time bombs, the coalition agreement perpetuates the status quo in each of these problems. However, Netanyahu has at his disposal a new type of TNT in the form of Itamar Ben-Gvir, a member of the arcanational Knesset and its odious Arab. Ben-Gvir was elected to the Knesset this year with the support of Netanyahu and is exploiting his parliamentary immunity to violate the status quo in the most volatile places, the Muslim holy sites of Jerusalem. Netanyahu can rely on Hamas and Islamic Jihad to respond to Ben-Gvir’s provocations.

And what would Bennett do if rockets were fired from Gaza into Jerusalem in response to a visit by Jewish members of the Knesset to the Al-Aqsa / Mount Temple mosque, which is sacred to both Jews and Muslims? Would the two Arab members of the new government, Islamist President Ra’am Mansour Abbas and Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej de Meretz, vote in favor of retaliation against Gaza and the killing of Palestinian civilians? And would Lieberman and Saar vote for moderation if the Israelis die in a Hamas attack?

And would he respect the decidedly favorable to the Bennett settlement a court ruling to demolish the 40 houses of Evyatar’s illegal site in the West Bank? How would you maneuver between pressure from the US administration to continue diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians on the two-state solution, its center-left partners supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state and its own forceful statements, let alone the resentment of his right-wing party partners?

Negotiations on a new nuclear deal with Iran are another obstacle facing the new government, which will force it to make an extremely difficult decision. If he adheres to Netanyahu’s militant policy that opposes the deal, Bennett will find himself on a collision path with the Biden administration, which will be in power throughout his two-year term. On the other hand, if the government agrees to follow the policy of the Biden administration, it is likely that Netanyahu will launch a public campaign accusing the new government of “abandoning the Jewish people to a second holocaust.”

Throughout his long reign, Netanyahu was considered a magician who walked on cold ropes without a safety net. Bennett saw his performance up close when he was his chief of staff when he was leader of the opposition between 2006 and 2008. To survive in power long enough to begin resolving some of the damage Netanyahu has caused to Israeli society , Bennett will have to beat his former master.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.

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