August 1, 2021

Knesset votes to endorse “coalition for change”, expected end of Netanyahu era

The Israeli Parliament began on Sunday, June 13, in a tense atmosphere, a special session to validate the draft “Coalition of change” due to end the fifth term of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who holds the record for longevity in this function. At the start of the session, the leader of the radical right, Naftali Bennett, presented the members and priorities of the future government before a vote of confidence expected between 6.30 p.m. and 8 p.m. (5.30 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Paris).

The government will work for ” all “ of the Israeli population, including the ultra-Orthodox Jews, who have no elected representatives in this coalition, Bennett said in a speech constantly interrupted by supporters of Mr. Netanyahu. “Citizens of Israel! It is a critical political moment and I call on everyone to show restraint ”, launched Mr. Bennett, who is to succeed Mr. Netanyahu after the vote of confidence, according to the agreement of the coalition.

In matters of foreign policy, he has kept the same tone as the outgoing Prime Minister on the nuclear issue of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel’s sworn enemy. The new coalition “Will not let Iran acquire nuclear weapons”, warned Mr. Bennett.

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Benjamin Netanyahu says he will stay in politics

During the day, rumors swirled about possible defections from the coalition, fueling suspense over the historic vote, before coalition leaders released a group photo to testify to their unity.

Unless there is a last-minute turnaround, it should obtain the blessing of elected officials, which will thus make it possible to oust from power Mr. Netanyahu, at the head of the government for twelve years without stopping.

However, the outgoing Israeli prime minister said on Sunday that he would remain in politics, or even return to power one day. “If it is our destiny to be in the opposition, we will do it with our heads held high, we will bring down this bad government and we will be back to run the country our way”, he said during an address to the Knesset.

A demonstration in front of Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem, Saturday June 12, 2021.

A demonstration in front of Netanyahu’s residence

Faced for a year on a corruption trial, Mr. Netanyahu, 71, was again the target of a protest demonstration on Saturday evening. In front of his official residence in Jerusalem, those gathered did not wait for the vote to celebrate the « chute » of “King Bibi”, nickname of Mr. Netanyahu, who has been the face of Israel since his return to power in 2009, after three first years as head of government, from 1996 to 1999.

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“Netanyahu only sought to divide us, one part of society against the other, but tomorrow we will be united, right, left, Jews, Arabs”, Ofir Robinsky said at the rally. “It’s good, it’s over, he’s leaving”, launched, for its part, Gali Israel Tal, a 62-year-old protester.

Formal handover on Monday

The new coalition will be led by Mr. Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Yamina party, for the first two years, then by Yaïr Lapid for an equivalent period.

After the planned Knesset vote, a formal handover is due to take place at the prime minister’s office on Monday.

In recent days, Yamina MPs have been the target of an intense campaign to discourage them from voting for the new government.

Either way, Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud has promised a “Peaceful transfer of power” after more than two years of political crisis marked by four ballots which resulted either in an inability to form a government, or in a cabinet of union which lasted only a few months.

An investigation into the Mont Méron stampede

After the legislative elections in March, the opposition finally united against Mr. Netanyahu and – extremely rare – it succeeded in rallying the Arab Israeli party RAAM, led by moderate Islamist Mansour Abbas.

“The government will work for the entire population religious, secular, ultra-Orthodox, Arabs and this, without exception ”, promised Mr. Bennett, ex-close of Mr. Netanyahu. “The people deserve a responsible, efficient government, which places the good of the country at the top of its priorities”, added Mr. Lapid, who should be head of diplomacy under Mr. Bennett.

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Beyond these statements, the coalition pledged to conduct an investigation into the Mont Méron stampede – which left 45 Orthodox dead on April 30 -, to reduce the “Criminality”, to defend the rights of LGBT people, but also to strengthen the Israeli presence in area known as “C”, in the West Bank, that is to say the area over which Israel has full military and civilian control and which represents about 60 % of this Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

The challenge of a lasting truce with Hamas

As soon as it takes office, the new government would face pressing challenges, such as the march planned for Tuesday by the Israeli far right in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian sector occupied by Israel.

The Islamist movement Hamas, in power in Gaza, a Palestinian enclave under Israeli blockade, has threatened retaliation if the march is held near the Mosques plaza, amid deep tensions over Israeli colonization in Jerusalem. Is.

On May 10, Hamas launched rocket salutes at Israel in “Solidarity” with Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, which led to an eleven-day war.

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A ceasefire was certainly obtained, under the aegis of Egypt, which made it possible to end the conflict, but, and this will be another challenge for the new government, talks for a truce durable have not been successful.

As for the outgoing Prime Minister, he could also have to face, according to the local press, a wave of protests within Likud, elected officials seeking to turn, internally, the Netanyahu page.

The World with AFP