The experience of leaving the prime minister’s residence on Belfort Street in Jerusalem is not new to the Netanyahu family. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a group of people evicted from an illegal ghetto in the West Bank town of Amona in 2016, “I understand the pain of being forced to leave home. After I lost the election in 1999, my family and I were evicted from our home on Belfur Street without notice. Simply put, we literally had to stand on the street with our clothes and belongings. From there we were forced to get up at the Sheraton Plaza Hotel. That’s a terrible thing. “
In the 1999 elections, the Likud party won 19 seats in parliament, six less than the Ehud Barak-led Labor Party. The way the coalition government of the parties with conflicting policies was sworn in; The left-wing Merets, the center-right Hamerkaj Party and several far-right parties formed the government that year. That alliance lasted less than two years. A new government was formed in Israel in the same manner. What can we learn from the short-lived government of Ehud Barak in 1999 about the future of the newly formed government of Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Yamina Party, and Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yes Atid Party?
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The big question is how long the coalition government will last, ranging from parties committed to Jewish settlements in Palestine to parties such as the Merets Party, whose leaders do not recognize illegal settlements and boycott products produced in the area. Can Merav Misali, a Labor women’s rights activist who is the chairman of the Labor Party, be able to reconcile with the conservative Home Minister Ailet Shakespeare, who has taken a stand against his ideology?
The card that Ehud Barak had in 1999 was much worse than that of new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. He has to play with this.
First, there is no precedent for a leader to become prime minister from a party that has received only 7 percent of the vote, not just in Israel but anywhere in the world. Prime Minister Bennett’s party, the Yamina Party, won just six seats in the 120-seat parliament. Bennett has been made prime minister for strategic reasons, excluding other leaders in the new coalition. Bennett of the new government and other right-wing leaders now have to merge with the leaders of the coalition Labor Party, the Merets Party and the United Arab List just to remove Netanyahu from the Likud party.
The reason behind their unification, apart from ideological differences, is that they all dislike Netanyahu’s personality and want a fair investigation into allegations of corruption against him. The main anger of the leaders of the new government’s center-right allied parties is towards Netanyahu. If Netanyahu is convicted in the ongoing case and he loses the leadership of the Likud party, or if the Likud party removes him from the leadership, these center-right parties are strongly expected to ally with the Likud party.
Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war against his successor Bennett. Talpitalpa even shouted when he went to the opposition seat. Remember, Netanyahu in 2021 is not the young Prime Minister Netanyahu 22 years ago. Now he is very veteran and now he has the support of hot-headed right-wingers.
In the last days of Netanyahu’s government, extremist groups and their pro-religious leaders chanted slogans and used provocative language against Bennett, recalling the assassination of then-Prime Minister Isaac Robin in 1995 by extremists. The first task of the Bennett government must be to normalize the situation by pouring water on the rule of law in the flames of this violence and hatred.
The Bennett-Lapid alliance is well aware that Netanyahu-led opposition parties will identify their weaknesses and set fire to explosives wherever they find cracks. They will use the passage of laws on various sensitive issues such as the relationship between the state and religion, the occupation of Palestinian land, and the rights of homosexuals.
If Hamas fires rockets from Gaza again, what will Prime Minister Bennett do? If he orders a counter-attack in Gaza, will Mansour Abbas, the leader of the United Arab League, the Arab party in the coalition government, react? Then there will be quarrels among themselves and the alliance will be broken. Netanyahu’s party is waiting for such a situation.