September 26, 2021

a historic coalition united against Benyamin Netanyahu

Thirty-five minutes before midnight, Yaïr Lapid ended up announcing, Wednesday, June 2, what had long seemed impossible: he has a coalition. Eight leaders of Israeli parties, infinitely disparate, have affixed their signatures to the government agreement that he has been refining for two months. They drive in theory a narrow parliamentary majority (61 deputies out of 120), capable of overthrowing Benyamin Netanyahu, after twelve years of uninterrupted reign.

“This government will work for all citizens of Israel, those who voted for it and those who did not. He will do anything to unite Israeli society ”, assured President Reuven Rivlin the centrist Yaïr Lapid, constant in his way of rising above partisan bottlenecks since the last legislative elections in March.

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This will be his only public statement. The main actors are silent or weigh their words with a trebuchet. Likud and Mr. Netanyahu themselves remained silent on Wednesday. In the meantime, it’s the pictures that say it all. An hour before Mr. Lapid’s announcement, a photograph summed up the improbability of this moment, its fragility, its beauty in a way: he was standing in a hotel in Ramat Gan (center) alongside the leader of a party Islamist, Mansour Abbas, the last man to sign this document, and Naftali Bennett, the boss of a small religious far-right formation.

A first in the history of Israel

Entering politics in 2013 with an uninhibited racism, Mr. Bennett remains a defender of the settlements in the occupied West Bank. The post of Prime Minister is promised to him until 2023, before Mr. Lapid seizes it. Mr. Abbas offers them a majority.

This is the first time in Israel’s history that an Arab party has fully joined a government coalition – in the 1990s, these parties were content to tacitly support the government of Yitzak Rabbi. Mr. Netanyahu is behind it. It was he who broke the cordon sanitaire maintained by the Zionist parties around Mr. Abbas after the March elections, the fourth in two years. Small Jewish supremacist allies of the prime minister, new to the Knesset, blocked their agreement.

History, for the time being, is advancing at slow pace. Mr. Netanyahu can still break this government before Parliament grants him its confidence, in a vote scheduled for next week. The Speaker of the Knesset, a member of Likud, can postpone this deadline. In the meantime, the Prime Minister will use all his links with rabbis and figures of the so-called “ideological” right to convince Mr. Bennett’s troops to let go. His party, Yamina, elected with 6.2% of the vote in March, has only seven deputies.

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