It’s going to be a day full of drama in the Knesset, following four election campaigns over two years of political upheaval, on Sunday at 4 PM, Israel’s Bennett-Lapid coalition government will be sworn in. The duo who gave us the brotherly pact in 2013 despite the blocking efforts of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now succeeded in forming a unity government without Netanyahu. The Bennett-Lapid camp is convinced it would get the needed 61 votes of confidence despite the Likud’s last-ditch efforts to lure away defectors.
Barring a last-minute change, after more than 12 consecutive years in power and 15 years in total as Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu will say goodbye to the title on Sunday. His staff promises that he would transfer his power according to the rules and in an orderly manner.
Sunday’s events will start with the sitting Knesset Speaker, Yariv Levin, leaving his post and transferring his power to the next elected Speaker, most likely MK Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid). The new Speaker will manage the rest of the proceedings: a vote of confidence in the incoming government and the swearing-in of the new Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Ministers.
The legal counsel of the Office of Prime Minister Shlomit Barnea-Farago has issued her recommendations, subject to the approval of the Justice Ministry, according to which from the moment the new government is sworn in, the state will stop paying for the Netanyahu family’s expenses at the official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem. The cleaners and cooks will be fired. Also, payments for the expenses of the Netanyahu family’s villa in Caesarea will be stopped, including cleaning, water, electricity, gardening, and laundry.
According to tradition, the transfer of power ceremony between Netanyahu and Bennett is expected to take place this coming Monday.
Yamina chairman MK Naftali Bennett will deliver his first speech as prime minister in the plenum Sunday evening and will call for unity and reconciliation. He is also expected to thank Netanyahu for his service to the country. Bennett will be followed by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and the new Opposition Leader – MK Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud). And then the 36th Israeli government with its 26 ministers will be sworn in. It is the third-largest government in Israel’s history, despite Lapid’s historic legislation from 2013 that limited all future Israeli governments to 18 ministers.
If all works according to plan, on August 27, 2023, Bennett will be replaced by Lapid, at which point Bennett will become Interior Minister and Ayelet Shaked will become Justice Minister, her dream job.
This will be a parity government—similar to the Netanyahu-Gantz government. And the problems that were associated with the first parity government could persist in the new one. There are two blocs within the new government that are equal in their voting power despite their significant difference in size. Yamina and New Hope, with 12 MKs (Yamina’s 7th MK Amichai Chikli has split and will vote against the new government, even though legally he can’t leave his Knesset faction), are one bloc, equal in its voting power to the 49 MKs of Yesh Atid, Blue&White, Labor, Meretz, and Israel Beiteinu.
This skewed parity could paralyze the government, especially on controversial issues. So this will be, from its inception, a government that will not solve the big problems. But it could go a long way to fix many small problems, in infrastructure, education, health, and housing.
Most important: this government will pass a new, biannual budget, which its predecessor has failed to do. The budget, any budget, really, will come as great relief to the country which has been subsisting on the 2019 budget outlays despite the critical changes stemming from the pandemic, which included the decline of all the world’s economies and the death-spiral of global tourism.