Why is Israel's next gov't being attacked before it exists? - opinion

The reality is that none of the parties that are expected to make up Israel’s next government neatly fit the stereotypes that overheated critics are deploring in advance.

 ITAMAR BEN-GVIR speaks to supporters in Jerusalem after last week’s preliminary election results were announced. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
ITAMAR BEN-GVIR speaks to supporters in Jerusalem after last week’s preliminary election results were announced.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Even as the votes in Israel’s election were still being counted, the attacks began.

Unnamed “senior officials” ominously warned that the new government will endanger US-Israel relations. Pundits passionately denounced the “extremists” who will be part of the new government coalition. Rumors are flying fast and furious that foreign leaders might boycott segments of the new government.

All this before the new government even exists!

The reality is that none of the parties that are expected to make up Israel’s next government neatly fit the stereotypes that overheated critics are deploring in advance.

“Far-right”? “Extremist”? “Anti-Palestinian”?

Benjamin Netanyahu has said he would accept a demilitarized Palestinian entity that would resemble a state.

 Likud leader and Israeli opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Likud leader and Israeli opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu seen after coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Not only that, but previous Netanyahu-led Likud governments adhered closely to the Oslo Accords, froze all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria for 10 months, released imprisoned Arab terrorists as “gestures” to the Palestinian Authority, and surrendered a large portion of Hebron.

I’m not commenting on the wisdom of any of those actions. I’m simply stating the facts. And the facts do not support the hysteria of the critics.

What about the Religious Zionist Party, which is expected to be the Likud’s largest coalition partner?

It favors deporting convicted Arab terrorists. Of course, so did Yitzhak Rabin – just recall the 415 Hamas terrorists whom Rabin deported to Lebanon in 1992. And Israel’s left-leaning Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld deportation as a legitimate punishment for terrorists.

Should a political party be considered illegitimate because it favors the deportation of terrorists? Shimon Peres didn’t think so. He served as foreign minister and deputy prime minister in the national-unity government of 2001-2002 – alongside tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi and Ze’evi’s successor, Benny Elon, whose party favored the “transfer” of Arabs out of Judea and Samaria.

Note that the position of Ze’evi and Elon was not just deportation of terrorists. They spoke of “transferring” Arabs in general.

And Peres was not the only prominent figure on the Left who felt perfectly comfortable joining cabinet minister Elon, the “transfer” advocate. Tommy Lapid, the father of outgoing Israeli prime minister Yair Lapid, served as minister of justice and deputy prime minister alongside Elon, in a governing coalition in 2004.

Again, I’m not commenting on whether Peres or the elder Lapid should have done that. I’m just stating the facts.

How about the two Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism? Do they fit the stereotype of far-right extremists?

Hardly.

Shas’s participation in the Rabin government of 1992-1995 was what made the Oslo Accords possible. And United Torah Judaism has been part of both right-of-center and left-of-center governments.

Obviously, on religious issues, the Orthodox parties have positions with which some non-Orthodox Jews disagree. But it’s not fair to paint those parties into some stereotypical corner just because their views do not align with what their opponents prefer. Shas and UTJ are a legitimate part of the democratic system and represent substantial segments of Israel’s voters.

The problem is that Israel’s critics don’t genuinely care about Israeli democracy or what Israeli voters want. They have one relentless, obsessive goal: to bring about the creation of a “State of Palestine” alongside Israel’s 14.5-km.-wide 1967 armistice lines. So long as the Israeli government – any Israeli government – resists that agenda, the critics will attack.

They will do everything they can to intimidate Israel’s government and frighten its supporters. They will use every means to isolate and demoralize Israel and its friends – ugly name-calling, angry op-eds, threats of all sorts. There will be lots of hysteria, hypocrisy and hand-wringing. It will not be pleasant. But that’s the price to be paid for Israel’s survival.

The writer is an attorney and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.