ועידת ידיעות אחרונות ו  - ynet  בנייני האומה ירושלים 2021
ועידת ידיעות אחרונות ו - ynet בנייני האומה ירושלים 2021
צילום: אלכס קולומויסקי
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Israel's political maturity is in regression

Opinion: Monday night's vote on bill extending Israeli law over West Bank settlements made two things clear; first, Bennett's government is a minority one; second, attempt to integrate Arab party into governing coalition has failed

Nahum Barnea |
Published: 06.11.22, 23:10
Following Monday's vote in the Knesset on the bill extending the Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the coalition began assessing the damage, having failed to persuade all members of the government to back the legislation.
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  • That vote made two things clear: firstly, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government is a minority one; secondly, the attempt to incorporate an Arab party into the governing coalition has failed.
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    נפתלי בנט
    נפתלי בנט
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevich )
    When America first elected an African American as president, they hoped it would pave way to interracial peace. What happened was the opposite. The Israeli society isn't much different: political interest joins forces with hatred of Arabs as a sector, and with racism.
    This doesn’t mean necessarily that Bennett's government is over. It means there has been a regression in the process of Israel's political maturity. I see it as a sad omen. The government lost its ability to pass legislations, approve a budget, and initiate reforms. It can launch a military operation, but nothing more. In the Knesset, it is destined to be paralyzed. Its members' feet may still be planted in the government, but their eyes will wander to the ballot box.
    This government differs from other coalitions Israel has had in the past decade - Benjamin Netanyahu is not at the helm of it and his religious and Haredi political partners are not wagging their tails in delight. It's a saving grace for some of the Israelis, and it's nothing less of a sin to others.
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    Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves a Jerusalem courthouse, Nov. 16, 2021
    Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves a Jerusalem courthouse, Nov. 16, 2021
    Benjamin Netanyahu leaves a Jerusalem courthouse, Nov. 16, 2021
    (Photo: AP)
    Leader of the New Hope party Gideon Sa'ar is a skilled politician and he was the one who pushed for the bill to be tabled, knowing he is in a win-win situation. Had the legislation been passed, he would have emerged victorious, but now that the bill is dead in the water, he knows he'd be portrayed as the government's right-wing leader.
    Ra'am's MK Mazen Ghanaim's story is simple: he wants to be re-elected as the mayor of the Arb Israeli city of Sakhnin. Approving bills that are controversial among the Arab sector would irritate his voters and diminish his chances at re-election. He isn't a member of the Islamic Movement. He's an outsider who brought with him 25 thousand votes, pushing his party past electoral threshold. It can be presumed his stand-off with the coalition would end with a deal: his resignation from the Knesset in exchange for support in his run for mayor.
    Meretz's Rinawie Zoabi's case is more complex. She's having trouble deciding where to turn. "Unstable, capricious," said her one of her colleagues, words that would never be uttered aloud among Meretz members. The left-wing party's chair Nitzan Horowitz brought her to Meretz only to fill the quota. She didn't attract voters and didn't integrate well into the party. When one of her colleges asked her why she threatened to resign, she said her sons were putting pressure on her.
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    ג'ידא רינאוי זועבי
    ג'ידא רינאוי זועבי
    Meretz's Rinawie Zoabi
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevich)
    According to the latest data, Meretz voters want the government to survive. And if a Meretz lawmaker causes the coalition's downfall, the party will be obliterated in the next election. Even without her, it teeters on edge of the electoral threshold. Thus, she was pressured heavily to resign before the vote, just so it wouldn't lead to a coalition member voting nay on the West Bank bill. Even Arab officials demanded her to vote with the government. She was scrutinized online in Arabic from all directions.
    If elections are on the horizon, the only party that may benefit from it is Lapid's Yesh Atid. Lapid showed maturity, leadership and control over members of his party in the Knesset.
    But, here's a good reason for him to keep fighting over the survival of the government. Two weeks ago, the party organized a picnic for its members. Usually such an event would see the arrival of 300 participants. This time, a thousand came. Not thanks to Lapid, but to the momentum of Netanyahu's block.


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