- Israel’s historically diverse coalition government is falling apart amid resignation and failure to pass key legislation.
- Rising Israeli-Arab violence has played a role in dampening popular support for the coalition.
- Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party has a chance of returning to power, leaving a snag in the Biden administration’s Israel policy.
The Israeli coalition government that ousted former Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2021 could collapse if it clashes over key issues, the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported Thursday.
While the current Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Prime Minister Yair Lapid, has succeeded in many ways, political disagreements have affected the parliament’s ability to agree settlement expansion, negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and other issues, suffocated, JNS reported. Israeli citizens have also lost confidence in the government due to the intensification of domestic violence, Shoshana Bryen, the senior director of the Jewish Policy Center and a leading expert on US defense and the Middle East, told The Daily Caller News. foundation.
“This is something the Israelis have not seen before, and this is really disturbing to them. And nobody knows what to do about it,” Bryen said.
Liberal, conservative and centrist parties, as well as an Arab-Islamist party, came together in a confidence vote in 2021, replacing Netanyahu with Bennett as prime minister by a margin of one vote. Their desire to oust the previous prime minister united them, Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote for Foreign Policy.
“The main reason for the coalition’s ongoing struggle is its composition – it’s very unnatural… hard to think of strange bedfellows,” Danny Ayalon, a former Israeli deputy foreign minister and ambassador to the United States, told JNS. “There is no real policy interest that binds them together, other than political survival, because neither party wants elections right now.”
The coalition lost its parliamentary majority after whip Idit Silman, a member of Bennett’s Yamina party, resigned without warning in April, The Jerusalem Post reported. Her resignation brought the number of coalition members of the Knesset (MKs) down to 60, equal to the number of opposition MPs.
Since then, the Bennett administration has struggled to pass key legislation, such as when the Knesset failed to renew a bill extending jurisdiction over Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria, which had been passed every year since 1967. reported JNS.
Bennett-Lapid’s government has also failed to quell growing internal Israeli-Arab violence, Bryen said.
Israelis have waning confidence in the Knesset’s ability to rule; less than 50% of Israelis say they are satisfied with their representatives in parliament, according to a survey published Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) on Bennett-Lapid’s government. About 48% of voters who supported the coalition said tensions within Israel have increased, and 70% of opposition voters said the same, the IDI survey found.
“This is the question of whether the Knesset has a chance to come back and whether the coalition has the capacity to produce for the people,” Bryen said.
A collapse could lead to new elections or a minority coalition that returns the conservative party, under former Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, to political dominance, experts told JNS. (RELATED: Trump: Netanyahu ‘never wanted peace’ between Israel, Palestinians)
“If you’re the Biden government, you don’t want Bibi to win. You suddenly have an interest in the Israeli government not falling,” Bryen said.
“A return of Netanyahu to the first ministry with a Democratic government in power will increase the level of tension and disagreement between Israel and the US,” F. Gregory Gause, III, a leading Middle Eastern scientist and head of Texas A&M University’s Department of International Affairs, told TheDCNF. The tenor of relations between Israel and the US often depends on the ideological positions of the party in power.
“Netanyahu has made it very clear that he prefers Republicans. The Democratic Party now has important elements that question the overall value of the relationship with Israel,” explains Gause.
However, the Biden administration argued that “the relationship between the US and Israel is and will remain strong and sustainable,” said a State Department spokesman who spoke to TheDCNF.
Even if the government wanted to influence Israeli voters, Bryen said it has “no influence” on Israel.
President Biden’s options to support the current administration include making concessions to the government’s approach to Iran and Palestine, issues that the government has made the center of its foreign policy. Israelis want a hard line against Iran and don’t believe a solution to the Palestinian issue will materialize any time soon, Bryen said; President Biden wants and thinks the opposite.
Prime Minister MK Bennett to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense: On the Iranian front, nothing binds our hands; we don’t just say this, we put it into practicehttps://t.co/y69IeOqlIK pic.twitter.com/UmcRYohfGr
— The Knesset (@KnessetENG) June 7, 2022
“In order for the Biden administration to do something that makes Israelis happy, his options are to give up things that Biden says are important. I don’t see it happening,” Bryen told TheDCNF.
A Knesset spokesman declined to comment.
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