Israel has voted for a new parliament and the outcome spawned an outermost right-leaning government, where MPs Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich would assume substantial powers and effect policies concerning the Israeli-Palestinian population, foreign relations, religious restrictions imposed on the secular sector, education, redirection of public funds and more. Is this what a large part of the Israeli public wishes for?
I doubt it. The majority of the Israeli public would have been happier with a right-of-center government, not a government controlled by a bunch of extremists who would care less about what the other 46% of the voting population wants.
Why then can’t a diverse set of representatives of so many colors and so many factions form a more representative government? Whose fault is it?
Whose fault is it?
I am pretty certain that Benjamin Netanyahu would have been thrilled, had he been able to have Gantz, Lapid, and Liberman – all of them, or some of them, to join his cabinet, thus forming a broad, more diverse and very stable administration. Had they done so, they would have diluted the power of the extreme religious and right-wing forces and pulled the agenda closer to the center. But neither one of the above trio was willing to make a move in this direction.
They simply boycotted Benjamin. Thus, forcing him to join with other partners. And since the only ones who were eager to form a right-wing alliance were the extreme Right and religious factions, the outcome yielded a government whose parliamentary majority was leaning heavily on each and every person from those groups.
And these groups are aware of the power they would assume in the very near future. Their power is rooted in the fact that without their support, Benjamin’s crown will drop off his head; without their support, there will be no coronation; they know that upon the threat of withdrawing support they can blackmail, they can secure funding, they can impose religious restrictions on the secular sector, and Benjamin will have no choice but to let them have it their way. If he does not, he will lose his majority and the government will crumble.
It’s clear that the boycott by the group whose motif is “Anyone but Bibi” is responsible for this development. If almost half of the Israeli citizens are about to be enduring pain and extreme dissatisfaction, it could lead to significant discontent, bringing about blaring attempts to rebel against the sense of being suppressed and taken advantage of.
It is dangerous. It is more harmful to Israel than the act of joining the coalition to form a broader government under Netanyahu. If they truly think of what’s best for the country, they should have left behind their boycott agenda and started thinking about the future of this country. They should have moved on.
It’s clear that the majority of Israelis wanted to see a Netanyahu-led government. It is clear that the majority of Israelis believe in clear-cut Zionism. It is obvious that the majority of Israelis want a more aggressive approach to violent Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. But it is also clear that most Israelis do not want to go to the extreme. They still want to see a coolheaded and calculated approach to all these issues. Netanyahu fits the bill but there is a high risk that his partners will try to push him out to the red line and beyond. And they have too much leverage in the present political incarnation.
It may be too late. It should have been done prior to the latest elections. “Anyone but Bibi” was a strategic gamble that missed its mark and took the whole country down with it. The next government to be formed will be less than what could have taken place had the Netanyahu boycott been abolished. I can only hope that the experience will be a lesson before the next elections.
But the expected extreme policies driven by the next government will, without a doubt, antagonize the opposition to a degree that the hostility and the chasm between it and the far-Right coalition will only grow farther and deeper, and peace between the two blocks will remain an unfulfilled illusion, never to be materialized.
The writer served as an intelligence expert for the Israeli government and was a professor at Northwestern University. He is the author of 72 Virgins – Countdown to a Terror Attack on US Soil. www.aviperry.org