Israel's new unity government up and running

After a year of stalemate Israel finally has a government again: Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) will be head of government for 18 months and then Benny Gantz (Blue-White List) will take over for the next 18 months. The coalition plans to implement a peace plan proposed by US President Trump which envisages the creation of a Palestinian state but also the annexation of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Commentators take a critical view.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

An alliance for keeping Netanyahu in power

Jochen Stahnke, Israel correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, does not believe this will be a stable government:

“The coalition agreement gives everyone the right to veto government decisions, meaning that any political project could trigger a new crisis. Only on the fateful issue of annexations in the occupied territories does Netanyahu have far-reaching decision-making powers. This provides him with enormous leverage. For the two members of the tandem distrust each other: one, Gantz, is trying to preserve the rule of law in Israel while the other, Netanyahu, is intent on remaining in power despite the corruption charges against him. In this he has succeeded. Even though the government is now being presented as a unity government charged with dealing with the pandemic, it still serves the purpose of keeping Netanyahu in power.”

Polityka (PL) /

Fragile peace hanging in the balance

Journalist Agnieszka Zagner describes in Polityka what awaits the new Israeli government:

“Netanyahu presented the government's priorities and listed: combating the coronavirus, reviving the economy and passing the budget, Iran. In addition there are proceedings by the International Criminal Court regarding alleged Israeli crimes committed in the Palestinian Territories and the annexation of parts of the West Bank. The latter point has the potential to shatter the fragile peace in this part of the Middle East and, in the worst case, the aggression could spread to neighbouring countries.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Jordan already making threats

The planned annexation of occupied territories could have unpleasant consequences for Israel, explains Middle East expert Carolien Roelants in her column for NRC Handelsblad:

“King Abdullah of Jordan warned last week of a 'major conflict' with his kingdom if Netanyahu were to implement his plan. It should not be forgotten that Abdullah rules over a population that consists predominantly of Palestinians and his country is currently suffering from a weak economy. If push came to shove he could terminate his peace treaty with Israel. I don't think that will happen in July. But postponed is not cancelled. After all, Trump is offering Netanyahu a huge opportunity to finally put an end to the two-state solution and take a big step towards an apartheid state.”