Israel: a government without Netanyahu?
Over two months after the last elections in Israel, a coalition aimed at ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rule is forming. The liberal opposition leader Yair Lapid was able to secure the cooperation of the nationalist-religious Yamina alliance, in return for which its leader Naftali Bennett is to become prime minister for two years, alternating with Lapid as the country's leader. Europe's press doubts that Lapid's broad, multi-party coalition will last.
The lowest common denominator
There is only one thing that unites the potential coalition partners, writes Gazeta Wyborcza:
“A government so divided ideologically will not be able to make any important decisions and will probably soon collapse. There is no consensus on the Palestinian question, nor on the question of secularism. ... There is, however, an agreement on a law prohibiting those who face criminal charges from holding the post of prime minister. Once it is passed, Netanyahu would have to await its verdict before returning to politics. Even if he were acquitted (which is unlikely because the courts in Israel are independent and staunchly fight corruption), he would be nothing more than a retired demagogue from a bygone era.”
No change in Middle East politics
With the opposition alliance in government and Naftali Bennett as prime minister, a shift to the left in Israeli politics is not to be expected, writes The New Statesman:
“Bennett and Netanyahu share much of the same ideology, in particular support for settlement building, staunch opposition to a Palestinian state, and support for annexation of at least parts of the West Bank. ... If Netanyahu is ousted, it will not be because the country voted for the left, but because his determination to stay in office at all costs fractured the right into pro and anti-Netanyahu camps, giving Bennett the narrow opening he hopes to exploit to form a government.”
Conciliatory tones after escalation
The taz, on the other hand, expresses quiet hope:
“For the first time, an Arab party, the United Arab List, wants to support an Israeli government - even if it probably won't be an official coalition partner. After the serious unrest between Arab and Jewish Israelis, this is a symbol that should not be underestimated. A political bond could bring a conciliatory tone to the internal Israeli debate, which is urgently needed after the escalation of violence.”
Netanyahu still has a few options, La Repubblica comments:
“The card he's betting on in the next ten days is defections, starting with the secularist Ayelet Shaked, the second pillar of Yamina, who is less comfortable with an alliance with the left. Because it would prevent her from pursuing her hobbyhorse, namely reform of the judicial system. Shaked may be Netanyahu's last hope of crushing the 'change government'. ... Should the attempts fail, Netanyahu would find himself in the opposition exactly 25 years after the victory over Peres that made him prime minister for the first time. From there, he would challenge the heterogeneous majority in order to pave the way for new elections as soon as possible.”