The only government in Israeli history backed by an Arab party formed to oust former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should have avoided divisive issues but clashed with the Palestinians.
In June 2021, after more than two and a half years of political crisis that led Israel to four electoral contests, radical right-wing leader Naftali Bennett and center-right Yair Lapid announced the formation of a diverse governing coalition.
The aim was to oust Netanyahu, who has been Israel’s prime minister for 12 years and is accused of corruption in a number of cases.
To achieve their goal, Bennett and Lapid joined the “anti-Bibi”, as Netanyahu’s nickname is, from the left, center, right and the small Arab party Raam. The message of the new government was clear: we must try to “unite” all sections of Israeli society and “avoid” divisive issues.
The ruling coalition spent a honeymoon in the fall and managed to pass the state’s first budget in more than two years, but began to face problems in the spring of 2022 following clashes between Palestinian and Israeli police in Jerusalem Square. Raam then “froze” his support for the government.
The crisis came in early June. Arab lawmakers have refused to pass a bill that would renew legislation under which the 475,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank have the same rights as Israelis, prompting a backlash from right-wing members of the ruling coalition.
Refusing to support the government in renewing the law, Netanyahu, who supports the law, revealed disagreements within the ruling coalition, which no longer had the necessary votes to pass a key law for Israelis. analysts pointed out.
Failing to pass the bill, Bennett resigned last Monday night and announced that his government would vote until next week to dissolve parliament in the run-up to early elections in the fall: the fifth election in three and a half years.
Netanyahu, 72, immediately accused the coalition of “relying on terrorist support” and “abandoning Israel’s Jewish character.”
“There is a right-wing majority in the Knesset, but some have chosen to work with an Arab party instead of me (…). I would not form a coalition with Mansour Abbas,” he said.
“Jews against Arabs”
According to political analyst Aviv Bushinski, Netanyahu’s former communications chief, “part of the right in Israel thought that the presence of Arab Israelis in the government was a rather interesting experience, but in the end the cost was too great.”
“Israeli Arabs” wanted more than we were ready to offer them. If the right wins the election, Mansour Abbas will remain in opposition and may not even be elected, “as many Arab voters will accuse him of allying with the government. , he added.
In this context, one of the main axes of the next election is expected to be: “Jews against Arabs”, pointed out today the best-selling newspaper in Israel, Yediot Aharonot.
“The Likud (Netanyahu’s party) will say that the inclusion of an Arab party in the ruling coalition was an unforgivable sin, a betrayal of the country. Likud pollsters already see among the Jews a kind of hatred or a desire for revenge. against the entire minority “, which constitutes about 20% of the 9.6 million inhabitants of Israel, the newspaper continued.
According to analyst Dalia Seidlin, a lesson is being learned from the diverse governing coalition: “Ultimately, no government can put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (as it has tried to do),” he said.
“I think from the beginning, Netanyahu – who is very good at formulating political strategies – knew that there were many things the coalition could agree on, but there were also many things that separated him, such as the occupation and the conflict. he tried to take advantage of them, “he added.
Recent polls, however, put Likud at the top of the ballot box, but failed to garner a 61-seat majority in the Knesset with his allies.
“Of all the polls in the last two months, only one gives Netanyahu and his allies 61 seats several weeks ago,” Seidlin said.