Israel’s prospective “change government” is a coalition of unlikely partners with only one goal in mind – the change of the country’s prime minister. But will the expulsion of Benjamin Netanyahu lead to positive change in Israel, or as far as Palestine is concerned?
The long journey that led to the formation of this motley coalition, including four national elections and difficult long-term negotiations, has shown that personal ambition in a confident and prosperous Israel trumps politics and outweighs ideology.
In fact, it was Netanyahu who for the first time showed unbridled willingness to follow all paths to advance his personal ambitions and interests. It was he who, after demonstrating any attempt at cooperation with Palestinian Arab parties as un-Zionist, pursued a coalition agreement with the United Arab List to retain his premiership. And it was he who helped to organize and legitimize the most overtly racist elements in Israeli society, and to ensure that they cross the threshold and enter the Knesset.
But Netanyahu ‘the magician’ has apparently lost his magic. He went too far, lied too much and stepped over too many co-workers to stay on top.
Indeed, nothing explains the formation of this new coalition of political extremes better than hostility – the hostility of political leaders who take revenge on the man who repeatedly deceived or burned them.
Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman, the prospective prime minister and finance minister, respectively, both previously served as Netanyahu chiefs of staff. Gideon Sa’ar, the prospective justice minister, was once his cabinet secretary. Even Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz, who are leading the coalition effort to oust Netanyahu, have both been ministers in his cabinet in the past.
But the apple does not fall far from the tree. After years of feeding on his henchmen like a scorpion, Netanyahu’s descendants want to devour him in a twisted ritual of political Matriphagy.
Once Netanyahu is neutralized and unable to return, the “change of government” will lose its raison d’être for all practical purposes.
The coalition partners have just agreed not to disagree on the major issues, and are unlikely to agree with any consequent policy change, let alone a new national agenda, transforming or even transitioning.
Rather, expect a lot of political struggle over major changes to the welfare state, for example.
Lieberman, the prospective hard-line secular nationalist finance minister, could insist on shifting budgets of the schools and institutions of the religious parties.
Whether Prime Minister Bennett, himself a religious Orthodox Jew, will decide to block or encourage such steps to weaken his rivals among the other religious parties remains to be seen.
But Bennett will not be able to take sudden or extreme steps over more consequences, such as expansion of the settlement or annexation, without risking a coalition explosion.
With a majority of no more than 61 out of 120 parliamentary seats, a failure by a disgruntled eccentric could lead to the “changing government” being undone.
So this is someone who guesses how it will develop or develop in the coming days and weeks. But if you thought it could not go worse than Netanyahu, think again.
Bennett, the former leader of a prominent settler group and a fanatical slap boasting of killing Arabs, has even fewer scruples than Netanyahu.
Paradoxically, his party could not exceed the threshold required to have any seats in the Knesset in the April 2019 election.
Now he is destined to become prime minister.
True to form, the political establishment spiders and scorpions will soon be there again, or when Likud decides to oust the criminally accused Netanyahu from the party leadership, especially now that he is officially facing serious charges of corruption and fraud and can do much ended up in jail.
Such a development would certainly pave the way for different, more cohesive coalition possibilities for the right and far-right parties that make up the majority in the Knesset.
The first thing these parties will do is throw the ‘too pragmatic’ United Arab list under the bus.
The United Arab List hopes its support for the government, which oppresses its own people on the other side of the Green Line, may get some financial crumbs, but once Netanyahu is gone, the Israeli right will surely merge once again. .
Despite its preoccupation with personal political sellers and the media’s preoccupation with the political circus, Israel has in fact been consistently moving further to the right for years.
Today, the right-wing Likud party holds about 30 seats in parliament, while the supposedly ‘centric’ Labor Party, which has ruled Israel for three decades, is a mere political footnote.
In recent decades, both settlement parties have given birth to a variety of extremist parties that support the illegal expansion and annexation of settlements, and which fundamentally oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state.
These parties are indispensable to any future coalition government – without them no major political party can govern.
In short, do not expect the ‘change government’ to lead to a major change in an already terrible state of affairs. But expect that the inevitable change of the “change government” will produce more of the same, but worse.
Netanyahu may be finished, but just a wonder Netanyahu’s Netanyahu is here to stay.