Israel Buries Netanyahu Era With New Broad Coalition Government
A heterogeneous coalition of eight parties yesterday completed its project to prevent Benjamin Netanyahu - prosecuted for bribery, fraud and abuse of power - from continuing as Prime Minister of Israel and in a tumultuous session of Parliament confirmed Naftali Bennett in office.
He is a right-wing nationalist who heads an alliance where there are pacifist, labor or Islamist formations, among others, and who will give up his job to the centrist Yair Lapid within 24 months.
It will undoubtedly be a government where tensions and threats of rupture will not be lacking given the disparity of projects represented by its partners, but which have reached the correct conclusion that Israel could not afford to continue the 12 years that Netanyahu had been occupying the official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem.
Bennett's Cabinet - made up of 27 ministers, 9 of them women - faces important challenges both inside and outside its borders and where many of its components can throw surprises.
The economy is one of the main challenges and at the head of this ministry is a well-known hawk, Avigdor Lieberman - famous for his outbursts, such as saying in 2009 that an atomic bomb should be dropped on Gaza - but who has clearly asserted his character. layman in the arduous negotiations to form an Executive. Israel urgently needs general budgets whose non-approval has precipitated several of the four elections held in just two years. In addition, it must deal with the economic consequences of covid-19, especially in terms of employment, and meet a growing demand to reduce state interventionism in numerous private sectors.
But it is in the area of social peace that Bennett will have to strive. The clashes between Jewish and Arab citizens in various cities of the country during the latest military escalation with Hamas make a change in relations between the state and its Arab citizens a priority, who feel discriminated against and who enjoy a lower standard of living. The Islamist presence in the coalition is a good start, but the Arab population has already shown signs of being tired of good words.
No one expects great progress on Iran or the conflict with Palestine - in fact, expansion plans in Jerusalem will continue - but at least the disappearance of Netanyahu breaks a situation of total lockdown in which the outgoing prime minister was very comfortable. And this affects foreign policy. Netanyahu has managed to alienate Israel from Europe and with the fall of Trump, now from the US Israel has to take the necessary steps to get closer to its natural partners and Bennett should not miss the opportunity.