New Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett swore in on Sunday 13th June after parliament approved the coalition of 8 political parties. The aim of this new government was to work for the sake of all the people and unite the nation that was stained by the years of political deadlock. Furthermore, PM Bennett said that he would prioritize health and educational reforms, and cut red tapes.
The ultranationalist politician belongs to the Yamina party and will lead this unusual coalition till 2023. Then will transfer power to the centrist party, Yesh Atid’s Yair Lipid for a further couple of years. On the other hand, Netanyahu refused to accept defeat and promised to come back. He would still be the head of the right-wing party Likud and the leader of the opposition.
Critics were concerned whether this development meant something better for country like the status of Palestinians living in the same land as Israelites.
Neftali Bennett as PM Raises Polarizing Opinions
A dramatic voting session was nearly a draw until Neftali Bennet emerged victorious by leading with one vote. The coalition was able to receive 60 votes and Netanyahu received 59. Reportedly there was one non-voter as well. After the voting, Netanyahu walked over to Bennett and shook his hand. Bennet gave a speech afterward, urging his fellow Israelites to take it easy as it was just another day in the age of democracy; a change of government. He also asked his followers to refrain from celebrating and dancing because it would hurt the sentiments of others.
Pro-Palestinians and critics dismissed Israel’s new government and said that it would as horrible as the Netanyahu one or probably much worse. Palestinian Authority (PA) called it an internal Israeli affair to keep their hold on the land. PA again mentioned that they want the 1967 version of the borders with Palestine as a state and Jerusalem as its capital. Militants Hamas also spewed anger against Israel, claiming it was an illegal occupation that they will keep resisting by force to get rights.
US President Joe Biden had also congratulated Bennett and claimed to further strengthen bilateral ties with Israel.
How Much can Netanyahu Interfere in Israeli Politics?
Netanyahu served a total of 5 terms in the government. Firstly, from 1996 to 1999, then nonstop from 2009 to 2021. The political unrest grew as nobody was able to enjoy the privileges of a Prime Minister other than Netanyahu for 12 years. The attempts to oust him were going on for a long time but somehow elections never went through. He called an election in April 2019 which did not go anywhere as Netanyahu failed to win enough support to form a new coalition government. Total there were 3 inclusive elections after which he formed a unity government with opposition leader Benny Gantz. This deal was also collapsed and Israel went back to the polls.
After Netanyahu’s Likud party failed to make a coalition government multiple times, the task shifted to Yair Lipid, who changed the face of Israeli opposition. Since then, it has gotten stronger but it took a lot of time to finally get Netanyahu out of office. The agreement was signed on 2nd June between 8 parties with 61 seats required for a majority, just half an hour before the deadline.
However, it seemed to have affected the ex-prime minister in the least devastating way. As soon as the result of the confidence vote was announced, Netanyahu went straight to his PM chair in the Knesset chamber. While he was expected to sit on opposition benches instead. Even though it seems like a historic moment in Israeli politics, Netanyahu has been the nation’s longest-serving leader. For now, he is not going anywhere and will stay in opposition with an ability to unravel, pull apart, or overthrow a coalition led by novice PM.
How Does the Coalition Look Like?
Bennett’s government seems like a feat that has never been done before in the country. The parties in this alliance have vastly different ideologies and also include an Arab party, Raam. Most significantly, it has a record number of 9 female ministers. The inclusion of Raam and other left-wing parties could lead to awkwardness on issues such as Israeli policies towards Palestinians. Moreover, Bennett’s Yamina and another right-wing party, New Hope, support the Jewish settlements in Israeli-occupied West Bank.
On the other hand, the conflict over social policies is already foreseeable to many as some parties of the coalition support LGBTQ rights, and Raam, being an Islamist party is against those. Similarly, some other parties want a crackdown on the religious way of life which a religious-nationalist party like Yamina would have a problem with.
As for the structure of the cabinet, Yamina’s deputy leader Ayelet Shaked will be an interior minister; the leader of the right-wing nationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu Avigdor Lieberman will be finance minister; The leader of the left-wing Labor party HaAvoda, Merav Michaeli will transport minister; Nitzan Horowitz of the left-wing socialist party will be health minister; New Hope’s Gideon Saar will be justice minister; center-right Gantz from Blue and White party will continue serving as the Defence Minister.