It is probably too early for fine-tuned commentary on the new Bennett government. But the odds that Prime Minister Naftali Bennet will be able to steer a course consistent with his past record, which was remarkably similar to and even more right wing than Netanyahu’s (even if he wanted to) seem rather remote. The profound ideological differences within his coalition, which includes both leftist and far right members, seem a formidable obstacle. And this is to say nothing of his narrow majority. Any one member could upend things at the slightest provocation.
Ra’am Party leader Mansour Abbas’s comment before being sworn in the other day as a member of the coalition government chillingly brought this home in real time. As The Times of Israel reports, his support provided the key backing needed for the Bennett/Lapid majority.
In his largely Hebrew speech, he said in Arabic, ”We will reclaim the lands that were expropriated from our people, this is a national cause of the first degree.”
We should also all be concerned that, according to The New York Times, both Bennett and Lapid, anticipating the problem, have indicated that their government “would initially avoid pursuing initiatives that could exacerbate their political incompatibility, such those related to the Iran nuclear deal, the Israel/Palestinian conflict, and focus instead on infrastructure and economic policy.”
Do they really think the world will pause as they engage in their political gamesmanship? Do they think that Mr. Netanyahu will let things lie?
This is a time for a robust foreign policy agenda. Renewal of the Iran nuclear deal, expanding the Abraham Accords and expanding Israel’s borders closer to its biblical heritage are issues that need attention. And what Bennet’s vulnerability will mean for the traditional role of halacha in the Jewish state also seems up for grabs.
We hope the new prime minister will at some point soon come to his senses now that the anti-Netanyahu cabal has been satisfied.