Israel’s acting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not sat around waiting for the opposition to remove him from power within days in a parliamentary vote. After a coalition of eight parties agreed on an alternative government agreement on Wednesday, Netanyahu called on Thursday the deputies “elected with votes from the right” who have joined the pact to “prevent the birth of a dangerous Cabinet of the left.” . His invocation was not a simple declaration. At least one of the parliamentarians who support the coalition threatens to deprive the opposition of the majority.
The pact by which the ultra-nationalist Naftali Bennett and the centrist Yair Lapid are preparing to take turns at the helm of the Government has yet to materialize in an investiture vote for Netanyahu and his family to move from the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, in the They have lived since 2009. Meanwhile, the head of government continues with his official and political activities with full intensity.
According to reports in the Hebrew press, his collaborators have tempted Deputy Nir Orbach, of the Yamina party, led by Bennett, to return to the discipline of Likud, the political formation headed by Netanyahu. The ultra-conservative Orbach had already publicly expressed his displeasure with the pact signed with the Israeli left – Labor Party and the peace movement Meretz – and the Arab Islamist Maan party, led by Mansur Abbas.
In order to convince other possible turncoats to join the ranks of the bloc that brings together the Likud, the extreme right and the ultra-religious parties, Netanyahu tries to postpone the investiture vote of the alternative government for as long as possible. Although the session is initially scheduled for next week, the president of the Knesset (Parliament), Yariv Lavin, a member of Likud, has warned that he will use his prerogatives on ordering the parliamentary agenda to postpone it until within 12 days. The partners of the new coalition have also reacted urgently to force the call next Monday of a special vote to elect a new president of the Knesset and replace the conservative Lavin with a centrist deputy.
The leader of the Israel Our House party (secular nationalist), Avigdor Lieberman, called to occupy the finance portfolio in the new Cabinet, acknowledged that it will not be easy to withstand the pressure of Netanyahu supporters for too long. “But in the end there will be a government,” he announced in television statements quoted by Reuters, “mainly focused on economic issues.”
Israel has not approved general budgets since the end of 2018 due to the political blockade that has forced the holding of four legislative elections since then. Predictably, other legal reforms promoted by the laity Lapid and Lieberman, such as the establishment of civil marriage in Israel, will have to wait.
Netanyahu also lashed out through his Twitter account against Bennett, who was his former collaborator and minister, for having closed a government agreement with the Arab Maan party. In the same social network, the still head of Government released a video from 1992 in which Bennett accused Mansur Abbas of “meeting with murderers”, for having visited several Israeli Arabs accused of having killed three soldiers in prison.
Bennett and Lapid have the support of 61 deputies from three conservative parties — Yamina, Nueva Esperanza (led by former Likud minister Gideon Saar), and Israel Nuestro Hogar; two from the center —Yesh Atid, Lapid’s own formation, and Azul y Blanco, headed by former general and defense minister Benny Gantz—, two from the left — Labor and Meretz — in addition to the support of Maan.
The loss of a single seat would ruin the options for a change in power, since Israeli law only allows an absolute majority to validate the inauguration. Political analysts in the Hebrew press suggest that some of the Arab deputies of the Joint List party, who have not joined the coalition pact, could provide external support in the vote of confidence to the new government.
Although the centrist Lapid leads the party with the most seats (17) in the coalition, it will not be he who submits to the investiture in Parliament, but the ultra-nationalist Bennett, who decided to contribute his decisive seven votes to the pact last Sunday in exchange for occupying the post of prime minister at the beginning of the legislature. Lapid has sacrificed himself in a gesture of consensus, which has been instrumental in getting the opposition to forge an alliance after failing to remove Netanyahu from power in the previous three elections with inconclusive results.
Mansur Abbas, an Islamist in the Executive of Israel
With his appearance as a sheikh from the Sea of Galilee region, the dentist Mansur Abbas, until now considered a minor Arab politician, has made history in Israel by adding for the first time the minority of Palestinian origin (one in five citizens) to the governance of the Jewish state. Conservative and religious, at the age of 47 he has sealed a pact with a heteroclite alliance of Zionist party leaders – from the ultranationalist and pro-colonists Naftali Bennett, to the pacifist and openly gay Nitzan Horowitz – which has been viewed with suspicion by the Movement’s Southern Chapter. Islamic, the local brand of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The spiritual leaders of the Raam party, which Abbas leads, have nonetheless given him the blessing to pursue a path of understanding not yet explored in Israeli politics. “We have decided to join the coalition to change the balance of forces in Israel and achieve improvements,” he announced after signing with Bennett and the centrist Yair Lapid an investiture agreement that threatens to remove the conservative Benjamin Netanyahu from power after 12 years.
Abbas represents a collaborative project with Jewish parties – not shared by the entire Arab community – to improve the conditions of the main minority, whose income is below the national average and which is hit by violence from criminal gangs .
He already anticipated it in a televised speech in April, after the unexpected irruption of his party in the Knesset in the March elections. “What unites us is much greater than what separates us,” this Islamist leader, ideological heir to the Muslim Brotherhood, addressed all Israelis in Hebrew.
Predictably, his party will occupy lower positions on municipal and social policies in the Cabinet and will control a key parliamentary commission in the distribution of spending. Although the details of the coalition agreement have yet to be polished before the investiture vote, Mansur has already started a budget commitment to invest more than 13,000 million euros in four years in infrastructure and security policies for Arab communities.
Its presence in the Government pact is unprecedented. Following the recent outbreak of sectarian violence between Jewish and Arab groups in cities with mixed populations, “Abbas’s signing of the agreement,” says columnist Merav Batito in Yedioth Ahrontoth, “It symbolizes a will to return to normalcy in Israeli society.”