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World News

Israeli coalition has only one thing in common – its desire to dethrone Netanyahu


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Did the Middle East’s only democracy prove last night that, however messy it may be, democracy prevails? Or will it prove, over the coming days, that it is the most dysfunctional of democracies?

Benjamin Netanyahu is still Israel‘s prime minister. He will remain so until the new coalition passes a vote of confidence in the Israeli parliament – the Knesset.

That should be a procedural affair. After all, if a majority of parties and their members said last night that they will join this coalition for change, then it’s a simple ratification process, right?

Wrong. As one coalition insider told me last night in the final hours of negotiations, “it’s an emotional roller coaster and it won’t end at midnight… we’re in for days of hell”.

The deal being signed, with Yair Lapid, a secular centrist on the left. In the middle is Naftali Bennett, a hard line nationalist, and on the right, Mansour Abbas, an Islamist Arab. Pic: Nawaf Alnabary, Kan news
Image: Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett and Mansour Abbas (L-R). Pic: Nawaf Alnabary, Kan news

It could be days, because that confidence vote may not be held until 15 June. It’s up to the speaker of the Knesset to schedule it and he is a loyalist to Mr Netanyahu.

The more time Mr Netanyahu and his allies have, the more likely it is that they can chip away at the coalition and peel off individuals to destroy the majority.

Mr Netanyahu has, unintentionally, achieved something few thought possible – the coalition which emerged overnight is the broadest in the country’s history, and it is his creation. The only thing the parties within it all have in common is a desire to remove him.

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It’s made up of parties from across the political spectrum.

At one end, Yamina is religious, far to the right of centre and led by nationalist and now PM in-waiting Naftali Bennett. He’s a proud hardliner who doesn’t believe in the two-state solution and whose position on the Palestinian issue is uncompromising.

Mansour Abbas's influence could be key on the Palestinian issue
Image: Mansour Abbas’s influence could be key on the Palestinian issue

At the other end, Meretz is Israel’s progressive Green Party, left wing, secular, anti-occupation, pro-two state solution.

Between them are all the others including Ra’am, an Arab Israeli party who for the first time since 1977 will have representation in a coalition government. On the Palestinian issue, they could hold key leverage.

The unlikely and historic alliance was captured in a single photo late on Wednesday night.

On the left, Yair Lapid, the centrist, bold architect of this coalition, in the middle Naftali Bennett who Lapid promised the premiership to for two years in order to secure his support, and on the right Mansour Abbas, the Arab Israeli who will try to secure concessions for Palestinians within Israel and in the occupied territories.

Three men who no one expected would or could work together, sitting, smiling and signing the coalition document.

Naftali Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years
Image: Naftali Bennett is set to be the new prime minister under the agreement
Yair Lapid is set to be handed the reins in two years time
Image: Yair Lapid would then be handed the reins in two years’ time

In a country where divisions and suspicions of the other run deep, it’s an uplifting almost emotional image of compromise and consensus.

Too good to be true? Well it’s fragility was highlighted overnight by protesters on both sides unhappy at what they see as a betrayal of their values – left, right and centre.

Netanyahu, or Bibi as he is known, earned a reputation for being a 'magician' in Israeli politics
Image: Mr Netanyahu was PM in 1996 for three years, before returning in 2009

Over the next week or so, Mr Netanyahu will try to lure defectors from within the parties to collapse the coalition and force a fifth election in just over two years.

If he fails then he’s out; an era over.

But it’s hard to see how this unwieldy coalition, admirable though it is in its formation, can ever achieve meaningful change one way or the other.

The ideologies within it are just too different.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News

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