The Knesset Monday evening officially approved by a 68-48 vote the 33rd Knesset in what a Meretz Knesset Member Zahava Gal-on correctly called a “celebratory affair” that was long on pomp and circumstance and short on government leaders “telling it as it is.”
The Opposition did not lose any time getting in its digs, with Labor party leader Shelly Yechimovich attacking the new coalition as a bunch of “rich capitalists,” pinpointing her disgust at Jewish Home leader and millionaire Naftali Bennett and former journalist and TV news celebrity Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid (Future) party. Looking to Lapid, she said he earned $700,000 last year. She did not mention how much she earned as a journalist.
Netanyahu took the podium to warn for the umpteenth time that Iran is getting closer to the “red line” he drew in his speech to the United Nations last September.
Speaking less than two days before President Barack Obama arrives for a short visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu made sure to say, “We stretch out our hand to the Palestinians” for a “historic compromise,” a nice diplomatic phrase for saying that the United States can forget about any peace deal with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, whose only suggestion of compromise is that Israel accept all of his demands.
Even Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu’s de facto “Minister of the Peace Process” told Israeli television that successfully completing the peace process will be “very difficult,” the understatement of the day.
Netanyahu was closer to the truth when he said that Israel will take advantage of Obama’s visit to thank America for its support.
The Knesset easily elected Yuri Edelstein as the new Speaker, replacing Reuven Rivlin, who hid his rage at being dumped by Prime Minister Netanyahu and instead silently accepted praise for having served in the post.
Arab MKs, as usual, were good for headlines. Jamal Zahalka charged Lapid with “racism” because he was not in the Opposition. Hanin Zoabi later told Israeli television that the coalition will be “racist,” in other words, just like the previous one, in her view.
One interesting comment came from Arab MK Ahmed Tibi. With the Haredi parties in the Opposition for the first time in recent memory, he suddenly saw a common cause between them and the Arabs on social issues, meaning more money for their sectors.