It ain’t Over Till It’s Over

On June 13, 2021, Bennett and Lapid will form the new government in Israel with sixty-one members against Fifty-nine members, and if some members failed to turn up, it could stop them from realising their dream.

Roughly about thirty years ago, the situation was almost the same for Shimon Peres, who was sure to form the new government on April 11, 1990. He was to present a new government to the Israel Parliament for approval but failed to do so after two members of an ultra-orthodox Jewish party had defected from the coalition at the last minute. He had predicted the majority of 61 members in 120 seats in Knesset or Parliament to replace Likud’s, Yitzhak Shamir. Nevertheless, and even he had announced the names of ministers in the new government. It was a considerable embarrassment for him as he had decided to strike a peace deal with Palestinians. (The Pittsburg Press April 11, 1990, Internet Archive).

The wheeling and dealing of forming the government have stirred concern in public, even people raising questions on the election system in the country. People say small parties with one or two members in Knesset should be barred from tilting the fulcrum. Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, named the whole affair “the dirty trick” in an interview, saying, “All this bluff and corruptibility which came into the Israeli political life in an attempt to form a narrow government failed not only tactically but also conceptually”. Despite the incident, Peres avoided a direct leadership election within the Labor Party, although he lost the contest to Rabin before the 1992 elections. (Wikipedia).

It is pertinent to mention that elections were held in Israel on March 23, 2021, to elect the 120  members of the parliament. It was the fourth election in two years. The political crisis started after the elections of April 2019, which left no party to form a government. The two major parties, Blue and White and Likud, received an equal number of 35 seats. The Likud received a mandate from the president to attempt to form a government, but  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to arrange a majority coalition of 61 seats. As a result, Netanyahu’s Likud and their supporting parties voted to dissolve the Knesset instead of letting the president give the mandate to another Knesset member. A second election was held in September 2019. This time, Blue and White overcame the Likud by a single seat.

Nonetheless, the Likud got the directive from the president after gaining the support of one Knesset member more than Blue and White. As a result, Netanyahu again failed to form a government. In March 2020, the third election was held. This time, Likud gained more seats than Blue and White, but Gantz achieved more recommendations from potential allies in the Knesset and received the mandate from the president. Gantz, nevertheless, was unable to unite enough allies into a coalition.

The ensuing government, directed by the ultranationalist Naftali Bennett, has promised to map a new course to restore the overall country’s health and reinstate a sense of lucidity. Anything more ambitious will be asking for trouble. The alliance comprises eight political parties from crossways of Israel’s political arena, including a small Arab party that has made history by joining a government for the first time. If even one party pulls out, the government would be at grave risk of breakdown, and Netanyahu, who aims to stay on as opposition leader, is waiting in the wings.

Now, Israeli far-right politician Naftali Bennett come closer to the centrist leader Yair Lapid oust Netanyahu as Prime Minister. This new coalition seems fragile to save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course. Netanyahu has called the coalition’s plan-a danger for the security of Israel. He even contestant Bennett of deceiving the Israeli right-wing and insisted nationalist politicians who have joined the coalition talks not establish a government of ‘leftists’. Media reports indicate that Bennett and Lapid would take turns as prime minister under the anticipated terms of the deal, but it has not been officially confirmed. It is pertinent to mention that this idea of the coalition came just after the declaration of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on May 21, 2021, after 11 days of the war, resulting in the loss of human lives on both sides. They need to sort out all of the differences with the various other parties in this coalition as it gets formed. Once that is signed and sealed, and he has an assurance of backing, then probably theUnited Arab List party with four seats will be the first to take part in the government, a significant change. The coalition would work on the ‘common minimum programme’.

As per Israel’s democratic system of proportionate representation, it is tough for a sole party to get adequate seats to form a government outrightly. Therefore, support of the other minor political parties is invariably desired to make up enough strength to form a government.

Many political observers in Israel have noted that Mr Netanyahu – who was unsuccessful in forming his coalition despite his Likud party winning the most seats in the March election – is expected to avert any group from getting the support it needs. In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s rational political enemy can indeed not underrate his callousness and out-and-out resolve to hold on to office. Until a new government with a new prime minister is sworn in, he will do all he can to stop it. If he finds himself in the ‘opposition leader’ seat, he would like to do all he could to weaken the coalition with a wafer-thin majority trying to span the entire Israeli spectrum, from the nationalist right to the liberal left. All that unites the coalition is their desire to out Benjamin Netanyahu from the office of Prime Minister.

About the Author
Colonel Balwan Nagial retired from the Indian Army in 2019 after serving for thirty years. Managed administration, security, project mgt throughout his service. He loves writing and contributing in newspapers and magazines in India. He loves Israeli culture.
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