מרב בטיטו
Merav Batito
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid receiving the mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin

Coalition for change versus the Netanyahu onslaught

Analysis: After failing to form government of his own, the prime minister accused Lapid and Bennett of building 'dangerous left-wing' coalition, while that is simple to disprove, navigating the minefield created by 12 years of Netanyahu may be harder

Merav Batito |
Published: 05.08.21 , 09:08
The Knesset factions that make up the coalition for change are now facing their first real test.
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  • After long months of preparation, strategy meetings and scenarios being played out, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid was finally handed the mandate to form a coalition and the onus is now on him.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    ריבלין ולפיד
    ריבלין ולפיד
    Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid receiving the mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin
    (Photo: GPO)
    He and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, who are expected to sign a power sharing agreement, are not the first to face such a test.
    But they are being asked to navigate a minefield created by 12 years of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rule. And may find their path to government dangerously compromised.
    Angry Likud supporters are making themselves heard in demonstrations outside the homes of both leaders as well as some of their political partners.
    The protesters are calling them names, threatening their families and warning that any government that is not headed by Netanyahu will bring catastrophe upon the nation.
    But it is not just the pressure from Netanyahu's base of supporters that could foil their efforts.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks Wednesday after the mandate to form a government was given to Yair Lapid
    (Photo: Contact)
    The man himself, in a speech given Wednesday after he failed to form a coalition and the task was handed to Lapid, said the Yesh Atid leader was working with Bennett to form a "dangerous left-wing government" that would be a "toxic combination of ineptitude, irresponsibility and lack of purpose."
    The prime minister's words were dripping in desperation, showing him as a man about to lose the shield that has thus far protected him from the consequences of his criminal trial for corruption.
    But his words could prove deadly to those aspiring to replace him.
    This is especially true for Bennett and New Hope leader Gideon Saar, who have spent years perfected their public image of true devotee of the right-wing but who are now considering partnering with the left.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    גדעון סער בישיבת הסיעה של תקווה חדשה
    גדעון סער בישיבת הסיעה של תקווה חדשה
    New Hope leader Gideon Saar
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    Among those counted in the Lapid–Bennett–Saar camp is at least one MK who has already displayed suspect loyalty, not only joining Netanyahu's last coalition but also blocking any legislation meant to curtail the prime minister's powers.
    And now Bennett finds one of his own party members announcing that he too will defect if the coalition for change succeeds in forming a government - and more may follow.
    Netanyahu is trying to lure people from his opponents' camp, promising guaranteed parliamentary seats on the Likud list in the next election and ministerial positions if they remain his to dispense.
    Given how successful he has been in the past, and how difficult it is to resist his persistent advances, Bennett and Saar must be aware of this risk.
    Israel will know soon enough if the leaders of the coalition for change are capable of meeting the challenge laid down when President Reuven Rivlin handed Lapid the mandate this week.
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