This is probably not how Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett imagined the first anniversary of his eight-party government: due to a lack of a majority in parliament, the 50-year-old fears that his coalition of very different partners will fall apart at any moment.
The next test of whether his troops are still capable of governing is probably due this Monday: Exactly on the first anniversary, a law on the application of Israeli law to Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank is to be decided again. Since 1967, this has been routinely done every five years – actually a formality. However, the government lost the vote on it last Monday. The opposition under the still influential ex-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (72) therefore called for Bennett’s resignation.
However, Jonathan Rynhold, a politics professor at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv, suspects that the government will survive the anniversary – one way or another. “I think she’ll survive the next week,” says Rynhold. If the law fails, the Bennett administration will seek other ways to maintain the legal status quo of the settlers. However: “It will be hard for them to hold out until the end of the Knesset session on July 23.”
Most important thing in common: the enemy
The coalition has been in office since June 13 last year. At that time, a permanent political crisis in Israel came to an end with four elections within two years. The alliance is supported by parties from the right to the left – including, for the first time, an Arab party. In this way, Bennett succeeded in replacing Netanyahu as prime minister after more than a decade. At the time, many doubted that the government could last longer, also because of the wafer-thin majority in parliament.
To date, the biggest common denominator of the XL coalition is that all eight partners want to prevent Netanyahu from coming back to power – “because of his corruption and his attacks on government institutions,” as Rynhold says. The ex-prime minister is currently facing three cases in court. He denies all allegations.
But the ideological differences between the government partners have become increasingly apparent in recent weeks. In April, the coalition lost its majority in parliament when an MP from Bennett’s far-right Jamina party unexpectedly left the coalition. Last Monday, two Arab MPs voted against extending the law. Others didn’t even come when the decision was made. The result: 52 to 58.
The government is currently unable to independently pass laws in the Knesset with 60 out of 120 MPs. Journalist Nahum Barnea wrote this week: «Monday night’s vote established two inescapable political facts. First: The Bennett government is now a minority government. The second: the attempt to involve an Arab party as an equal partner in the administration of the State of Israel has failed.
West Bank has been a conflict zone for decades
In principle, the mostly right-wing opposition supports the law. She voted against it for strategic reasons – to put pressure on the government. According to a report in the Times of Israel, an end to the regulation would mean that criminal Israelis could flee to the West Bank without fear of prosecution. There would be massive problems for settlers in terms of taxes and health insurance. The current regulation expires at the end of June.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live there today. The Palestinians, on the other hand, want the territories for an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The opposition is also trying to put pressure on the government, which does not have a majority due to the deadlock in parliament, to overthrow the coalition through a constructive vote of no confidence. Politics professor Rynhold does not believe that Netanyahu will get 61 votes to replace the government without a new election. However, 61 votes for the dissolution of the Knesset are conceivable. This would then lead to a new election within 90 days. It would be the fifth in three years.
In such a case, Rynhold sees the chance of another stalemate as very high. This could again threaten several elections in a row. The professor says: “It’s much more deadlocked than we realize.”
#Israels #government #anniversary #crisis