A wide range of Israeli political parties—including those led by the right-wing politician Naftali Bennett and the centrist Yair Lapid—have reached a deal to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Below, Atlantic Council experts react to the news and assess the significance of the coalition’s push to oust Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
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Post-Netanyahu government distinguished by its frayed seams
Dislodging Benjamin Netanyahu from the Israeli prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem is a feat of political engineering. Whatever cabinet emerges now that Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid worked out a rotation agreement—in which each expects to serve for two years as prime minister—will be distinguished by its loose and frayed seams. Now that Netanyahu is out of the way, the eight parties that comprise this minority coalition government will find it challenging to focus on common ground. Chances are unlikely that the champions of West Bank settlement in Bennett’s Yamina Party will be able to subdue their distaste for the outspoken settlement opponents in the Meretz and Labor parties and work together for long. The fact that the government’s viability will depend on the continuing goodwill of the Muslim fundamentalist Ra’am Party—which won’t formally hold a cabinet seat, even as it agrees to support the coalition in parliament—is an obvious weakness that could spell its downfall at any time.
As Bennett and Lapid struggle to govern together, they will face unrelenting attacks from Netanyahu and his Likud Party, who will aim at their clear ideological fissures. Another outbreak of violence with the Palestinians that exposes the sharp political differences within the new Israeli cabinet could make this a very short-lived government. As the post-Netanyahu era dawns, its architects face a formidable challenge in building foundations that can sustain the powerful blowback coming the new government’s way.
Jonathan H. Ferziger, Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Programs.
Time for Israelis to heal and move forward
If indeed a “unity government” in Israel is sworn in, it will be met with a collective sigh of relief for the majority of Israelis and Israel watchers alike. Israelis can take a moment to heal and move forward; after three years, the government will finally be able to form a budget, proceed with judicial appointments, expand economic programs and perhaps even pursue legal reform. And after years of incendiary behavior, the US-Israel relationship—or more accurately the…