What chances does Netanyahu's departure open up?

After twelve years in office, Benjamin Netanyahu's mandate as Israeli prime minister has ended. The Knesset voted on Sunday by a razor-thin majority of 60 to 59 votes for an eight-party government coalition led by the ultra-nationalist Naftali Bennett which includes Jair Lapid's liberal Future Party as well as an an Arab party, Ra'am, for the first time in the country's history. Europe's press takes stock of the changes that can and must be made.

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tagesschau.de (DE) /

Frustration can also unite

The fact that strong dislike of Netanyahu is the only thing that unites this government is not necessarily a disadvantage, writes Benjamin Hammer, Israel correspondent for the German broadcaster ARD, on tagesschau.de:

“In Rabin Square in liberal Tel Aviv, thousands of people celebrated the provisional end of the era with Netanyahu as PM. The fact that the rather left-wing inhabitants of Tel Aviv indirectly celebrated the right-wing nationalist Bennett and his closeness to the Israeli settler movement seems somewhat absurd. But it shows how great the frustration over Netanyahu was. This could now hold the country together.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Possible fresh start with Arab Israelis

The new coalition should seek to overcome internal polarisation, writes the Financial Times:

“Coalition leaders will have to put aside political differences and work for the betterment of all Israeli citizens after two years of political paralysis. If the government is successful it could restrain the urge of centrists to veer to the right and go some way to convincing Palestinians with Israeli citizenship that the country's politics can be more inclusive. If it fails, Israel will be put through the torture of a fifth election and voters' faith in the country's politics will be further eroded.”

Berlingske (DK) /

Sign of a healthy democracy

Berlingske emphasises the importance of the new team for the rule of law:

“What we can hope for first from the change of government in Israel is that there will be fewer open attacks on Israel's constitutional institutions. There is a different dynamic than the one Benjamin Netanyahu was driven by. Just think, for the first time since Israel's founding, the Israeli government is supported by an Arab party. This is indeed a big step for Israel, and the fact that this is possible is a sign that Israeli democracy is healthy.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

An ambivalent legacy

La Repubblica takes a look at what state the country is in after Netanyahu's long rule:

“On the one hand, he was the architect of economic modernisation and the guarantor of national security. This culminated in the Abraham Accords, which extended peace with the Arabs to the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco. On the other hand, in fifteen years of government he has failed to resolve the Palestinian issue, a source of recurrent conflict, as witnessed by the recent exchange of fire with Gaza. A long series of scandals and court cases have contributed to his downfall. ... But a rematch is not out of the question, because the heterogeneous coalition that replaces him has a majority of just one seat. ... And Netanyahu will lead the opposition at the head of the party with the most votes.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Willing to stop at nothing to stay in power

The outgoing PM leaves behind an economically stable but deeply divided country, NRC Handelsblad agrees:

“With his constant accusations and conspiracy theories levelled at the media and the judiciary, he undermined trust in the democratic institutions. He convinced his voters that the corruption charges against him were based on lies and that the entire legal system is merely intent on bringing him down. Staying in power and thus out of prison became his sole goal for which everything else had to make way. The prime minister gave leeway to small right-wing extremist parties that could help him politically, made coalition agreements only to break them again and tried to put pressure on other politicians in every way possible.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Goodbye and adieu

Now the task is to ensure that Netanyahu's departure is permanent, Gazeta Wyborcza comments:

“Perhaps the most important task of the new government will be to pass a law preventing Benjamin Netanyahu from returning to the post of prime minister. One idea is to limit the term of office to eight years. Alternatively, it could be legislated that the prime minister must not be a politician indicted in a criminal case.”