Monday, June 14, 2021

A Preview Of Things To Come In Israel

Antagonism during Bennet speech ugly preview of things to come - analysis

Well, that was certainly unpleasant.
And it – the Knesset session where incoming prime minister Naftali Bennett presented his government to the Knesset, and outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his final speech to the Knesset in that position – didn’t have to be so.

Sure, no one expected a lovefest, not in light of the bitter acrimony that has accompanied the establishment of the Bennett-Yair Lapid government, an ideologically diverse government with one common denominator linking them together: the burning desire to move Netanyahu aside.
It was clear, or should have been, that Bennett would not be well received by 120 MKs, including the 59 who will not be in his coalition, with pats on the back or warm words. But a little dignity? A modicum of respect? The decency of letting him finish a sentence?
A speech that in practice probably took Bennett 15 minutes to read took him 45 minutes to deliver. Even his stroll up to the podium was accompanied by heckling and name-calling. That should have been a sure giveaway.

Watching Bennett deliver his maiden speech to the Knesset brought to mind a bar mitzvah boy who reads the Torah portion on his big day but is rudely interrupted by congregants shouting out corrections so harshly and so often that the moment is nearly ruined.
There was something almost heartbreaking about Bennett’s children, sitting in the front row of the balcony, making hearts with their hands at one particularly heated moment of very heated heckling, as if to send encouragement to their father below.

No, a lovefest was not expected, but neither was a food fight this ugly.
This is not the passing of the baton of leadership that this country needs at this time.
Yet maybe it is good that the country saw this now, because it will disabuse it of any romantic notions that may be out there that we are all about to turn to a fresh page. Sunday’s Knesset session was a sign of things to come.
If anyone thought for a moment that with the establishment of a minority government supported only by 61 MKS – the United Arab Party (Ra’am) is in the coalition and will support it, but not in the government – the divisiveness that has marked the last two and a half years of four inconclusive elections would suddenly fall away, they were mistaken.

And the show in the Knesset on Sunday showed just how mistaken they were.
Just as the Likud, Religious Zionist Party and the haredi parties’ MKs left out of the government gave Bennett not a second of grace before interrupting his speech, there will be not one second of grace for the new government.
One hundred days of grace? Forget it, not even a hundred minutes of grace.
By the way, that is not something new. The last Netanyahu-Gantz government was also pilloried when presented to the Knesset last May, and Lapid – then head of the opposition – said that government was born in sin and vowed to bring it down as swiftly as possible.

But, still, this time the antagonism and venom seemed rawer, more intense.
Netanyahu made clear during his speech that he would make life for the government hell. While Bennett began his words –when the heckling died down – with the gracious act of thanking Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, for their service, Netanyahu did not in any way reciprocate.

Israel has had five prime ministers who came back to serve another term after failing to form a coalition – David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin, Yitzhak Shamir, Shimon Peres and Netanyahu – but never someone who has returned a third time.
Netanyahu made clear in his speech that he intends to be the first. The manner in which the MKs listened relatively politely to his speech, in contrast to the raucous reception that Bennett received, indicates the extent to which the Knesset remains to a certain degree under Netanyahu’s baritone spell.

Any relief that might have been in the air as the Knesset sessions started – relief that finally a government would be sworn in, relief that the divisiveness would be tamed, relief that a softer breeze would blow through the land – was dispelled by the Knesset session.

Yes, power was transferred, but it was done in a way that not only left a sour taste in the mouth, but gave a glimpse of what lay ahead.
In the best of circumstances – say, when the coalition is ideologically homogeneous – making a slim 61-seat coalition work is a gigantic task. But for Bennett and Lapid, these are far less than ideal conditions, since the coalition is so ideologically diverse; any one issue could potentially lead one of the coalition partners to say they cannot compromise anymore on their principles and opt out, thereby bringing down the government.

Two things make this coalition even more difficult to manage. The first is that unlike previous 61-seat coalitions the country has known, where the prime minister was the head of the party with the most seats in the Knesset, or the second-most seats in the Knesset, this time the prime minister has the firm backing of only six members in his party.

The second thing working against Bennett is that Netanyahu will be working day and night to trip up him and the coalition. And as a seasoned politician who has moved from opposition head to prime minister in the past, Netanyahu knows how to play the game.

Over the last few days, much has been said and written about the end of the Netanyahu era. That all might be premature. Netanyahu showed on Sunday that while he may be moving out of the Prime Minister’s Office, from his point of view, it will not be for long. Considering the chaotic scene in the Knesset – likely orchestrated by the Likud – a third Netanyahu tenure should not be dismissed out of hand.

If the way Bennett was heckled just walking up the podium was a preview of what would happen once he started to actually speak, then the nonstop interference during the speech is a preview of what awaits him and the government in the weeks and months away.

Bennett waited out and withstood all the heckling and in the end delivered his speech. He will now have to wait out and withstand much worse that will be thrown at him day after day.
On Sunday in the Knesset, Bennett was not knocked off course and moved forward. But remember, that was just day one.

In his apparently final speech as prime minister of Israel before a new government is sworn in Sunday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu unleashed his fury on prime minister-designate Naftali Bennett and vowed to work tirelessly to topple the new coalition.

“I will fight daily against this terrible, dangerous left-wing government in order to topple it,” Netanyahu said at the conclusion of his lengthy speech in the Knesset plenum. “With God’s help, it will happen a lot earlier than you think it will.”

In comments warning Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah that he is not going anywhere, he declared in English: “We’ll be back soon!”

Netanyahu spoke for more than half an hour, well beyond the 15 minutes allotted to him, rattling off a lengthy list of accomplishments in office, slamming Bennett, and vowing to lead a combative opposition. He labeled Bennett’s Yamina party and the New Hope party as “fake right” and accused them of betraying the will of the voters in joining a government with centrist, left-wing and Arab parties.

Netanyahu asserted that Bennett will not and cannot counter the existential threat posed by Iran.

“I’ve heard what Bennett said [about standing firm against Iran], and I’m concerned, because Bennett does the opposite of what he promises,” Netanyahu said. “He will fight Iran the same way he won’t sit with [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid, Labor and Ra’am.

“Bennett does not have the international standing, he doesn’t have the credibility, he doesn’t have the capabilities, he doesn’t have the knowledge and he doesn’t have the governmental support to allow him a real defense [against Iran],” Netanyahu continued. “Among all the differences between us and the incoming government, this is the most important and most fateful difference to the future of Israel.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two steps from Jeremiah 30:7. In just a few days rapture followed by emergence of AC to confirm the covenant. Daniel 9:26-27 extraordinarily so.