If one were to compare the policy stances between Israel’s Yamina and Likud parties, they would find them very nearly aligned on most issues. But the leaders of these parties are not friends. Yamina’s Naftali Bennett greatly despises his former boss and mentor, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He hates Netanyahu so much that he is poised for form an alliance with centrists, left-wingers, and even the Arab United List just to get Netanyahu out of office. It seems likely to work and would put Bennett in charge for two years. Except, there is almost zero chance that the coalition would last that long.
All of this stems from two emotional driving forces. The hatred for Netanyahu makes for strange bedfellows adopting the old adage, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” That combined with fatigue among nearly everyone in the nation with four elections in two years makes the prospects for a fifth election daunting at best.
Bennett will join forces with centrist Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, who currently holds the mandate to form a government. But Bennett will also need support from the Arab United List and smaller left-leaning parties to get to the 61 MK threshold necessary to become Prime Minister. Arab hatred for Netanyahu will likely prompt them to embrace Bennett temporarily, but they are adamantly opposed to his stances regarding the West Bank and other contested areas in Israel.
As The Telegraph notes:
If the coalition is sworn in, Mr Bennett would become Israel’s first devoutly religious prime minister, marking an extraordinary rise to power since entering politics in 2006.
A self-made millionaire and former special forces commando, the Yamina leader has spent much of his political career trying to step out of Mr Netanyahu’s shadow. The 49-year-old served under Mr Netanyahu as diaspora affairs minister from 2013 to 2019 and then defence minister from 2019 to 2020.
An outspoken supporter of expanding Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, Mr Bennett claims to be “more right-wing” than his former mentor.
What does this mean for Israel?
In the short term, this would mark the first time in over a decade that the country is not being led by Netanyahu. He had also held the Prime Minister position before and regained it, making him the longest-serving Prime Minister in Israel’s short history. He is currently charged with corruption, which he vehemently denies.
The “deal” will include a power-sharing agreement that supposedly lasts four years with Bennett as Prime Minister for two followed by Lapid. But there is no chance it will last that long as the diverse “change government” they are forming will certainly fall apart before his two years is up. It could fall apart in months. They know this, but if it means they can rid themselves of the Netanyahu dynasty, they’re willing to scratch everything and start fresh.
It’s disingenuous of them to claim this will stave off another election because they know that there will almost certainly be one next year if not this year. A new government will try to focus on the economy and Covid-19 lockdown recovery, but that will only last for so long before they get to the more contentious issues in which member of the proposed coalition will clash. One wrong policy switch and the coalition will fall apart.
To avoid this means Bennett will be forced to toe the line as Prime Minister. What good is a different Prime Minister if everything they do must abide by the demands of the left in order to maintain power? The answer is obvious. It does nobody good except for those on the left who see this as an opportunity to embarrass and dismantle conservative ideology in the nation.
What does this mean for the United States?
A weakened Israel is a strengthened Iran. Joe Biden has been rushing back to the table with Iran since Inauguration Day and a new Israeli government made up of leftists and Arabs holding sway over the Prime Minister’s policies will only embolden Iran to advance their efforts towards instability in the Middle East.
The Biden administration does not care for Bennett and his staunchly conservative policies, but they would welcome him as a puppet Prime Minister for the “change” coalition. They will leverage their leftist allies in the Knesset to pressure Bennett into accepting Iran’s demands. Netanyahu has been the most adamant opposition to the original Iran nuclear deal and will oppose any efforts to salvage it.
In the end, the turmoil a “change government” will bring to Israel will cause ripples in the Middle East that will prompt the Biden administration into more engagement there. We need to remove ourselves from the Middle East altogether and Netanyahu as Prime Minister is the best way to allow that to happen. If is ousted, the Middle East quagmire will expand and draw the Biden administration into more involvement.
Americans should hope that Naftali Bennett is unsuccessful. While Benjamin Netanyahu has many flaws, he has maintained a strong check against Iranian aggressions across the region.
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