On Thursday, Times of Israel editor David Horowitz wrote: “Netanyahu and the right are about to regain power; they will hold it for a long time.” (Emphasis added here and below)
For which I say Thank Heaven.
Continued Horowitz, “The final blow to the coalition could come from many directions, but come it will. And Israel will get a government of the ideological hue most of the electorate voted for a year ago.”
That reference to the ideological hue most Israelis voted for – i.e. to the right — is of major significance. All of Bennett’s babbling about his having a government in accordance with the will of the people has been just that: babbling. I am not sure if he has been trying to convince the people or himself.
It was Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked of Yamina, and Gideon Sa’ar, of New Hope, who prevented the formation of a right wing government; they refused to join a coalition led by Netanyahu.
Whatever their personal animosities and discontents, in doing this, they subverted the will of the people.
Bennett and Lapid stitched together a number of factions from right to left, and including, horrifically, an Islamic Movement party as well as Meretz, which is not truly Zionist, to secure a coalition with sufficient mandates (seats) to govern. It has been an abysmal failure.
Lapid may have repeatedly admonished the members of this coalition to avoid taking ideological stances that would be divisive. But in the end this did not, could not, hold.
And this, my friends, is what the opposition understood when they voted against the Judea & Samaria law, which applies Israeli civil law to citizens in Judea & Samaria. It then fell to the governing coalition to pass it, but there were elements within that are ideologically opposed and refused to vote for it. (How could the Islamic Movement justify to its religious advisors and constituents strengthening the position of Jewish settlers in Judea & Samaria?) Had the opposition voted for it, the refusal of some members of the coalition to vote for it would not have generated a crisis.
But a crisis is what we now have.
Attention has been focused on Sa’ar, who is absolutely livid about the failure of the coalition to enforce discipline and support the legislation. Sa’ar has declared the government at an end.
For some days, rumor – which Sa’ar denied — had it that he was negotiating with Likud to rejoin that party. By yesterday, Sa’ar declared that he couldn’t do that, an indication that he indeed had been thinking of it. He says it’s because Likud pushed too hard, and now he remembers why he left that party. But it could just as well be because he pushed hard on a number of demands in exchange for his re-joining Likud, and the party was not sufficiently forthcoming. Reports that Netanyahu’s offer stands, with a deadline, are still floating.
When the government falls, if the offer still stands (it may not) Sa’ar may choose to move to Likud because he knows how dim his party’s chances will be in the future.
But now the focus is on Nir Orbach of Yamina.
According to a report that came out yesterday, Orbach was furious with Ra’am because of its failure to support the coalition. The partnership with Ra’am, he said, was a “failed experiment that is now over.”
He has not acted yet, it is said, because of his “intense loyalty” to Bennett. He came into Yamina in the first place because of that loyalty.
There are two directions in which he might head now. One, he might move over to Likud. Netanyahu has been courting him, as well, and has reportedly offered him a position, should there be an election.
But the other way for Orbach to go is to join with Ayelet Shaked and Abir Kara (a deputy minister in the prime minister’s office, pictured).
There has been talk for some time about the three of them bolting the coalition together and forming a new party (three is the minimum required). That new party would join a coalition headed by Likud, thereby making possible a constructive no-confidence action: there would be sufficient mandates so that a new government would be formed without elections.
That would likely best serve the country. Reportedly Shaked has asked Orbach not to do anything yet, but wait a couple of days for an “orderly” exit.
Netanyahu apparently prefers elections. According to a poll published on Tuesday evening, if elections were to be held now, the right-wing bloc would reach 60 seats, with 35 seats for Likud – up from the current 29, while Religious Zionists would go from their current seven seats to 10.
What these numbers tell us is that dissatisfaction with the current situation has moved the electorate further right. Netanyahu assumes that with campaigning it would be very possible to bring in at least one additional mandate in order to establish a governing coalition.
One other factor to mention: If the government falls (which means a no-confidence vote has succeeded) because of the defection of someone from Yamina or New Hope, and elections are triggered automatically for three months hence, Yair Lapid will assume the position of prime minister until after the elections and resolution of a new coalition. This is per the agreement between Bennett and Lapid.
Orbach is reportedly reluctant to generate this situation by joining Likud, and he is not without reason. Among other things, Lapid is a “two-state” advocate.
Good Heavens! It has just made news that MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz) claims that Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had promised to allow the return of the residents of two Arab villages in the Galilee who fled during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. (This is ‘right of return.’)
Lapid is furiously denying it. But… Zoabi left the coalition, declaring she would never come back, and then, after a meeting with Lapid, she did return, three days later. It was never revealed what had been promised her. There was talk about budgets for Arab communities. We will never know.
What we do know is that this will not happen. If at all he did intend to make this happen, it would have been on the quiet.
If Orbach moves with Shaked and Kara to help in the establishment of a new coalition that would take over immediately, Lapid would not assume the role of prime minister, which would be a very good thing.
On the other hand, Orbach is mindful of the fact that he has more value to Likud if his leaving brings down the government. If he waits too long and the government collapses, he will have less leverage.
There you have the situation, in all of its confusion and complexity. If you find your head spinning, you are not alone.
You have here an overview of the major alternatives for how matters may evolve, and who the major players of import may be. But that’s of today. Some unanticipated situation may yet arise. Ari Deri of Shas has declared that a surprise will be coming very soon.
It is all so unstable now, you will find news breaking hourly regarding some aspect of this situation.
But what seems fairly certain is that it will only be a matter of weeks, at most, until the government falls. And for this we can be grateful.
There is still reason to believe that either the Judea & Samaria law will pass when Sa’ar brings it again to the plenum, as he says he will, or an alternate way of protecting Jewish residents of Judea & Samaria will be utilized to afford those residents necessary legal protection. There are temporary methods being discussed.
I do not believe they will be left unprotected.
Here you see the community of Elon Moreh in Samaria:
Let us move, then, to some other good news.
I recently had a conversation with someone in a counter-terrorism unit of the IDF, who was enormously reassuring. Our military is keenly aware of immediate dangers and prepared to take strong action.
During the last month, major military exercises have been conducted that simulate multi-front war situations. They have been among the largest and most extensive military exercises ever conducted by the IDF. During these exercises, dubbed “Chariots of Fire,” the IDF sought to simulate multi-arm combat scenarios in the air, at sea, on land and the cyber front.
A week ago, exercises were held in unfamiliar terrain in Cyprus, in cooperation with the Cypriot National Guard. In the link below you will find a video of some of those exercises and a statement by Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.
General Kochavi said that what was seen in the exercises is professionalism and excellent spirit. There was cooperation between the branches of the military based on mutual trust and comradery.
“This is true power!” he declared, and he is so right. It is this spirit that makes our military special. I could not be prouder.
At the same time, Israel is seriously upgrading its ability to attack Iran in the future.
“The Israeli Air Force has developed a new capability to be able to fly its F-35 stealth fighter jets from Israel to the Islamic Republic without requiring mid-air refueling.
“In addition, the IAF recently integrated a new one-ton bomb into the arsenal of weapons used by the F-35s (known in the IAF as the ‘Adir’) that can be carried inside the plane’s internal weapons compartment without jeopardizing its stealth radar signature.”
And my last piece of good news for now:
President Biden, who is not a friend to Israel, was due here for a visit this month. He would have come with intentions of applying pressure on the government to be more “accommodating” to the Palestinian Arabs.
Recently it was announced that his trip would be delayed. Subsequently it was suggested that he might not be coming at all.
This is a side benefit from the prospect that the government is falling. There is no point in coming under these circumstances, is there?
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.