Explained: What to expect from Israel’s next govt under Bennett in aftermath of Gaza violence
- The Israeli parliament will vote to install a “change” coalition, led by Naftali Bennett, aimed at unseating Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
The confidence vote in the Israeli parliament on Sunday could end the 12-year-long run of its longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. If all goes according to the plan, the parliament will vote to install a “change” coalition, led by Naftali Bennett, the ultranationalist who has vowed to chart a new course aimed at healing the country's divisions and restoring a sense of normalcy.
The new coalition, aimed at unseating Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, consists of eight parties from across Israel's political spectrum, including a small Arab party that has made history by joining a government for the first time. The fragile coalition could collapse even if one party breaks out of it, which would give Netanyahu another chance for the top post.
What to expect?
Under the agreement reached by the opposition parties, Bennett will serve as prime minister for the first two years, followed by the centrist Yair Lapid, a former journalist who was the driving force behind the coalition. But that would be possible only if the government survives more than two years.
The coalition holds a thin majority in the Israeli parliament, Knesset, with the help of parties from across the political spectrum - the right, left and centre. All parties signed the coalition agreement ahead of a Friday deadline, crushing the hopes of Netanyahu. But the parties have come together to keep Netanyahu out of the office and avoid another election.
The new coalition government is expected to adopt a modest agenda acceptable to Israelis from across the ideological divide that steers clear of hot-button issues. The major challenge in front of the coalition will be to agree on a budget, the first since 2019.
Bennett, a religious ultranationalist, supports the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and is strongly against a Palestinian state. However, any push against Palestinians would risk his job given the fragility of the coalition supported by an Arab party. In such a situation, the annexation of the occupied West Bank and the invasion of Gaza are probably off the table, but so are any major concessions to the Palestinians.
The new government is expected to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in a subdued way, unlike earlier governments, to avoid angering the Biden administration, which is pushing for restraint. It is also expected to maintain Netanyahu's hard-line stance on Iran and oppose US President Joe Biden's efforts to revive its international nuclear deal.
On Friday, Bennett said that the government will work for all the Israeli public as one, out of the partnership and national responsibility, adding that he believes his government will succeed. Bennett’s statement came as the current government has failed to heal the divisions between Jews and Arabs and between ultra-Orthodox and secular Israelis.
Mansour Abbas, leader of the United Arab List, a small party with Islamist roots, is expected to secure large budgets for housing, infrastructure and law enforcement in Arab communities.
Israel's Arab citizens, who make up 20% of the population, have close familial ties to the Palestinians and largely identify with their cause, leading many Jewish Israelis to view them with suspicion. The new government already faces hostility from Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, which recently condemned the deal to oust Netanyahu, demanding Bennett remove his skullcap worn by observant Jews.
(With AP inputs)