This, my friends, will be the shortest of postings. It is not necessary to deal now in all of the details of the prospective new “change government” that may have been forged last night—that appears to have been forged but is not yet finalized.
What makes me heartsick is the fact that Naftali Bennett was willing to sign on to a coalition deal that includes, for the very first time, an Arab party, Ra’am, headed by Mansour Abbas. Below you see Abbas to the right, with Bennett, center, and Yair Lapid, who had the mandate to form a government.
For Bennett there are two wins – he gets to be part of a coalition that, presumably, will wrest power from Binyamin Netanyahu, and he gets to be prime minister first, in a rotation with Lapid (who, in my opinion has zero qualifications for the job). Well, bully for him.
I want to be very clear here about my position. I would not be opposed to an Arab in a coalition, provided it were a Zionist Arab – one supportive of the State of Israel as a Jewish state, and ready to work for the betterment of the state. Such Arabs do exist. But Abbas, for all his smiles, is an Islamist. His Ra’am party is the political wing of the Southern Islamic Movement, a movement that draws inspiration from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Its charter – which Abbas some months ago declined to change – declares:
“The State of Israel was born of the racist, occupying Zionist project; iniquitous Western and British imperialism; and the debasement and feebleness of the Arab and Islamic [nations]. We do not absolve ourselves, the Palestinian people, of our responsibility and our failure to confront this project.”
How could Bennett and Ayelet Shaked (of whom I thought better), and the rest of the Yamina party do this? Yamina? It means, to the right. Oh, definitely.
There are other problems with this coalition as well. As Meretz and Labor are included there will be a pull to the left, which is precisely what we do not need now. What is more, it is a pastiche of so many different political orientations that it will be frozen, unable to move in a constructive manner. What binds the parties together is their determination to replace Netanyahu. But beyond this, there is little else.
And so I must repeat here what I have been saying for months. We need a strong right-wing government to confront all that we are dealing with now: Biden, and Blinken; the push for a “two-state solution” (which surely sits well with Meretz and Labor); the eagerness in the US to make concessions to Iran; the growing problem with illegal Arab building in Area C.
I did not sleep much last night.
Coalition negotiations went down to the wire, precisely because there is so little agreement between the parties. In the end, all signed, which means in theory they have come to an agreement.
There are eight parties complicit here: Yesh Atid; Blue & White; Yisrael Beitenu; Labor; Yamina; New Hope; Meretz; and Ra’am.
But that is merely a surface agreement to allow them to announce a win and move forward. Additional negotiations are still required to finalize details, and since the devil is in the details here, it still might all apart.
The agreement is not final, in any event, until it receives a vote of confidence from the Knesset. Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud, pictured) will do everything he can to delay the vote, because he knows that some members of the parties that signed on to this horror are less than comfortable with its parameters and might yet pull out.
The latest the Knesset vote on this might be held would be on June 14, and Lapid will do everything within his power in this situation to see it brought forth sooner. He is already moving to have Levin replaced.
In the meantime, there will be enormous pressure brought to bear on the members of Yamina, pressure brought by Netanyahu – who will continue to fight until the last – and other members of Likud. The coalition as it is structured has the minimum 61 mandates (as MK Amichai Chikli of Yamina, pictured, has already declared he will vote against), and so it would not require too much in the way of defections to bring it down.
Nir Orbach also of Yamina has indicated he might vote against. This might do it, and might not. For the (Arab) Joint List, which is separate from Ra’am, has six members and to date only four of them have declared they will vote against the coalition in the Knesset. If the other two might be induced to support the coalition it would offset Yamina defections. But we don’t know yet.
If Lapid cannot hold together that coalition in the end, the matter would be referred to the Knesset, where any member has the right to step forward to establish a coalition.
Last here, a word about Netanyahu, for whom I had felt a modicum of sympathy because of the virulence of the political actions against him. No more. He finished matters for me yesterday. Late in the negotiation process, it broke that Abbas was demanding of Lapid that he commit to repealing the Kaminitz law.
Oh? And where did this come from? From Netanyahu. It appears that he had told Abbas that if he does not support Lapid’s efforts to form a coalition, then he, Netanyahu, would see to it that the Kaminitz Law was taken down. Oh, really? The Kaminitz Law – actually a collection of amendments to the Planning and Building Law, passed in 2017 – was designed to provide tools to combat illegal construction. Netanyahu would apparently be willing to do away with this for political gain. (Last November a decision had been made by the attorney general not to enforce portions of the law for two years; perhaps he has convinced himself that full repeal would not be significant.) I believe there was also some talk about legalizing illegal Bedouin villages. In the end, the “change government” did not agree to this.
In my opinion at this point – and here I belatedly join others who have taken this position – there is only one way Netanyahu might redeem himself. He needs to resign his position for the good of the country, allowing someone else in Likud to take his place (Yuli Edelstein?). Then both Bennett and Sa’ar would be able to join with Likud for a right-wing coalition, which would be formulated in the Knesset.
It should happen. It won’t.
I end with this, my friends: I have been working with considerable zeal on the upgrading of my website. It is up, and it provides a true wealth of information, with more still being added in response to the issues of the day – all in a user-friendly and highly attractive format.
I urge you to see it, to return to it from time to time, and to share my URL with others who might benefit from the information.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.