Limor Livnat
Limor Livnat
Photo: Yaron Brenner
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Now is time to mobilize the center-right

Opinion: Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid demonstrated rare integrity, camaraderie and etiquette by dispersing the government; now the battle between the moderates and the extremists begins

Limor Livnat |
Published: 06.22.22, 23:29
After Naftali Bennett announced the Knesset will be dissolved, like an officer and a gentleman, the prime minister said he will hand over the reins of power to his coalition partner Yair Lapid, thereby honoring their power-sharing deal.
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  • The seemingly smooth transition comes amid claims that the two were sparring over who would get to be interim prime minister in case the coalition collapsed.
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    נפתלי בנט ויאיר לפיד במליאת הכנסת
    נפתלי בנט ויאיר לפיד במליאת הכנסת
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Bennett and Lapid have demonstrated camaraderie that is rarely seen in Israeli politics. In fact, it's the sight of blood-thirsty politicians at each other's throats that pops up to mind first, as some of them desperately latch onto power at any cost.
    We warned about this throughout Benjamin Netanyahu's term as he clanged to his chair in multiple caretaker governments, the four elections he forced on us because he couldn't muster a majority in the Knesset, and when he reneged on his agreement with Defense Minister Benny Gantz to step down from office as part of a similar power-sharing deal.
    Bennett and Lapid were right to throw the towel on this government's term. Any government that doesn't have majority support in parliament must realize that it can't play with the rules of democracy and must go to the voter for that.
    This government was formed in the name of democracy. It was formed to foil the years-long attempts to undo our democracy by those who threaten to steamroll the judicial system if they ever get another shot at power.
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    איתמר בן גביר ובצלאל סמוטריץ'
    איתמר בן גביר ובצלאל סמוטריץ'
    MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich of the ultranationalist Religious Zionist Party
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    It is clear that there is a good chance we'll see a Netanyahu-led government whose longevity rests on the backing of two senior, highly senior, ministers — Itamar Ben Gvir, a protégé of racist Meir Kahane, and Bezalel Smotrich, who himself is a champion of racism.
    I quit the Likud party in February of last year after Netanyahu joined forces with Ben Gvir, who is now growing in popularity by the day. I definitely do not want to see such a government.
    Still, elections were the only solution to this political impasse since the danger posed to democracy is too great.
    Now is the time to mobilize the center-right as we have learned from our predecessors. Many of us still hold on to these values and do not wish to see the upending of the rule of law, the judiciary and law enforcement like the threats by Netanyahu's party cronnies which he refuses to condemn.
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    בנימין נתניהו בפתח משפטו
    בנימין נתניהו בפתח משפטו
    Benjamin Netanyahu, flanked by members of his Likud party, upbraids the legal system at the opening of his corruption trial, in 2020
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Netanyahu is at war for his life as he is anchored by the corruption charges that are now unfolding in court.
    He isn't only fighting for his own innocence — which is for the court, and not the commentariat, to decide — but also to delegitimize the entire legal system.
    He knows how to do just that, and during election campaigns, he is at his prime, and that is why we must roll up our sleeves and wage a counter-offensive to preserve democracy.

    Limor Livnat is a former member of the Knesset and Cabinet minister for the Likud party.
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