Originally published June 22, 2022
The fractious coalition between right-of-center, left-wing, and Arab parties that made up the Israeli Knesset majority disbanded this week, prepping the Jewish state for its fifth election since April 2019. This will end the one-year tenure of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and the first time an Arab party was included in the majority coalition.
This eventuality came later than most critics predicted but was written on the wall when Idit Silman (Yemina) announced back in April that she was retiring. That turned the bare 61-seat majority into a 60-seat tie. Analysts at the time said that without a new coalition formed within the existing Knesset, something that the Arab Joint Lists would likely not support, a new election was inevitable.
This opens the door for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, to regain control of the Knesset. Netanyahu, who served as PM from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2009 to 2021, was overjoyed with the news. “This is an evening with great news for the masses of citizens in Israel,” Netanyahu said. “After a determined struggle by the opposition in the Knesset and the great suffering of the public in Israel, it is clear to everyone that the most failed government in the country’s history has ended.”
“A government that was dependent on supporters of terrorism, that abandoned the personal security of the citizens of Israel, that raised the cost of living to levels we never saw before, that imposed unnecessary taxes, that endangered the Jewish character of our country – this government is going home,” he said.
The former prime minister promised: “My friends and I will form a broad national government headed by the Likud. A government that will take care of you, all Israeli citizens, without exception. A government that will lower taxes, lower prices, will lead Israel to tremendous achievements including expanding the circle of peace. A government that will return the national pride to the citizens of Israel so that you can walk the streets with your head held high. With G-d’s help, we will do this and succeed.”
Unsurprisingly, other members were decidedly less jubilant. “It is a pity that the state has to be dragged to elections,” reacted Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “We will continue to function as a transition government as much as possible. I do not judge the decision.” Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar was far more candid. “Just as I warned, the irresponsibility of certain MKs in the coalition brought on the inevitable result,” he said. “The goal in the next election is clear: preventing the return of Netanyahu to power and enslaving the nation to his interests.”
Some Labor politicians are showing gratitude to the coalition for helping return them to the majority for the first time in a generation. “Well done to Lapid and Bennett who are being responsible and choosing to lead rather than be pulled along,” said Labor MK Eran Hermoni. “I wish Lapid luck in his role as prime minister.”
“The change government has begun to return Israel to its citizens,” said Labor leader Merav Michaeli. “The change coalition united different sections of Israeli society. I am proud that Labor took part in the coalition.”
The head of the transition government will not be Naftali Bennett, but rather Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. Lapid is expected to be sworn in when the dissolution is finalized, and he will be the Prime Minister during the expected visit of President Joe Biden on July 13.
Naftali Bennett decided to dissolve the coalition over the regulations regarding Judea and Samaria. The regulations, whose passage failed the plenum vote earlier in June, have been instrumental to the governance of the settlements in Judea and Samaria since the Six-Day War. “I am not willing to accept blackmail and threats. If I harm the state because of the non-approval of the Judea and Samaria regulations, I will go,” Bennett said.
Bennett’s political future is unknown. He became Prime Minister based solely on the massive desire to see Netanyahu defeated, and he made many enemies among his base of support in doing so. Mere days before joining the coalition, Bennett publicly signed a vow to never join the left wing. When offered to become Prime Minister, the office was too good to pass up. Now he is alone, and he knows it. “Right now, I intend to run alone and not join up with anyone,” Bennett said. “I will consider my steps in the coming days.”
The next election is currently scheduled for September.
Moshe Hill is a political columnist and Senior Fellow at Amariah, an America First Zionist organization. Moshe has a weekly column in the Queens Jewish Link, and has been published in Daily Wire, CNS News, and other outlets. You can follow Moshe on his blog www.aHillwithaView.com, facebook.com/aHillwithaView, and twitter.com/HillWithView.