They failed, but Bennett and Lapid deserve credit for trying - comment

Ultimately, the government failed. It failed not because it didn’t try, but rather because it was not easy.

 Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 7, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 7, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

To some extent, the “Change Government” was born in sin. Just days before the last election in March 2021, Naftali Bennett promised on live television that he would never sit in a government that would allow Yair Lapid to become prime minister. He went so far as to sign a document on live TV so the whole country would see that he was a man of his word.

His word only went so far. After the election and once Benjamin Netanyahu had failed for the fourth time to form a government, Bennett reneged on his promise and declared that he was instead standing by another vow he had made – to prevent a fifth election.

That promise held true until Monday when Bennett and Lapid announced that they would bring a law to disperse the Knesset next week and take Israel to an early election. The decision was made after the duo understood that there was no way to stabilize their crumbling coalition. They had lost their majority and control over the government. The clock was ticking, and the outcome was clear. At least this way, they figured, they could control the collapse.

Bennett and Lapid's choice 

On the one hand, Bennett and Lapid did not have a choice. They had lost their majority, Bennett had lost nearly half of his party, and the deadline to pass the West Bank regulations bill – failure to do so would have created chaos – was fast approaching. Now, once elections are called, the bill remains in effect, and anarchy in the West Bank is prevented.

On the other hand, there is something sad about the collapse of this government. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum – on the Right or the Left – there was something unique in seeing a government come together from all sides of the aisle. There were the most right-wing politicians – people like Bennett and Ayelet Shaked who oppose a Palestinian state – sitting with politicians on the far Left who believe that settlements are a war crime.

 All alone and likely on his way out. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset this week. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) All alone and likely on his way out. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset this week. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Read more on the dissolution of the Knesset and the upcoming elections:

There were the greatest socialists in this government together with the greatest capitalists. In addition, the government was joined – for the first time in Israeli history – by an Arab-Israeli party that took part in the nation’s decision-making and helped expedite the passing of a major economic and infrastructure plan for the Arab sector.

While it only lasted for a year, this government showed that, at least for a while, its members were able to put aside their differences – there were plenty – and focus on what they agreed on: ways to keep the country safe, ways to keep the economy growing and ways to try and stop the polarization and division that has taken hold in recent years throughout our society.

Failure of the government

Ultimately, the government failed. It failed not because it didn’t try, but rather because it was not easy. People who are so ideologically different will have a hard time staying together for an extended period of time. Issues will come up, they will be hard to solve, and the differences will prevail.

There will be plenty of time to discuss the government that might come next. Will it be a government run by Netanyahu and Itamar Ben-Gvir, or will the Likud leader again fail to secure the 61 seats he needs, and Israel will instead roll to another election? Or is it possible that Lapid – now as prime minister – will lead the center-left to an unprecedented victory?

For now, we can appreciate the effort this government made. Bennett and Lapid deserve credit for trying.