Operation Shield and Arrow served as a political ladder for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and the government as a whole to step back from the brink of what appeared to be a crisis that threatened the government's stability.
Six days ago, Netanyahu was facing a boycott by Ben-Gvir's Otzma Yehudit party over what it argued was a weak response to rockets from Gaza a week before. The party very quickly called off the boycott and ended what could have endangered the marathon voting over the 2023-2024 budget.
Besides the Otzma Yehudit problem being solved, Netanyahu was also able to move away from an issue that has created trouble from the get-go: the judicial reforms.
Netanyahu scores points
The negotiation teams representing the coalition and opposition met twice last week, on Tuesday and Thursday, but were barely mentioned in the press due to the operation; for the first time since January, the protest organizations against the reforms did not hold a mass protest on Saturday night; and the reforms and protests were noticeably absent from Netanyahu weekly remarks to the press ahead of Sunday's cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu scored points on another two issues. First, the S&P credit rating, which was published on Friday, did not change Israel's rating or its projections, after Moody's did lower the projection a number of weeks ago from 'positive' to 'stable.' S&P wrote in its decision that its expectation was that "some sort of agreement" will be reached regarding the reform. Netanyahu reportedly discussed the issue with S&P officials ahead of the decision, and their expectation therefore likely reflects Netanyahu's own.
Second, Netanyahu's office put out a number of pictures with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and the latter even praised Netanyahu's leadership in one of their joint press statements during the operation. At least outwardly, this shows that the two have reconciled, after Gallant on March 26 warned against the effects of the reform on Israel's national security, and Netanyahu announced that he was firing Gallant a day later – setting off a chain of events that led to a freeze of the reform legislation.
Barring any additional security flare-ups, the most urgent issue during the coming two weeks will be the budget, which must pass by May 29 – or else the government falls.
A number of problems with the budget developed under the radar during the operation, including legal issues with a flagship Shas campaign promise to distribute food coupons to needy families; local authority leaders' fierce opposition to a part of the budget that would form a city tax fund, which would, in short, take money from the wealthier cities and give them to the poorer ones; and the issue of a haredi conscription bill, which the Hasidic Agudat Yisrael faction, part of United Torah Judaism, is still officially demanding to pass by the time the budget passes.
But Agudat Yisrael will likely fold and not risk toppling the government, and the other issues will likely be solved in the coming days.
But these problems are "regular" problems that pop up around every budget. They will likely be solved, and the coalition will likely pass the budget on time. With Netanyahu unlikely to bring back the judicial reform to the table as long as the negotiations are ongoing, and with the budget passed, Israel may, for the first time in many months, experience a stretch of normalcy.