The Elephant in the Room

PM Naftali Bennett will go down in the short Israeli history of magnanimous and honest politicians as one of the best. Here are three reasons why:

  1. He decided to call it quits on his governing coalition that had lost its majority when he was unable to pass a bill that would continue the every 5 year extension of Israeli civil law to the occupied West Bank (Judah and Shomron). This would have sent the situation of the Israeli citizens living there into an impossible chaos. The only way he could accomplish this extension without a majority is by dissolving the Knesset, whereby the law is automatically extended until the next government takes office. Since the dissolution of the Knesset results in an election in October, that is at least until next November.
  2. He agreed to leave the office of PM concurrent with the dispersal of the Knesset and turn the premiership over according to his coalition agreement to his current FM and alternate PM Yair Lapid. This means Lapid will be PM when Pres. Biden visits in July and will remain in office as interim PM for at least until the next government is elected, that could be many months. Notably the previous politician and PM who was in such a position, Bibi Netanyahu, failed to honor his commitment to his alternate PM Benny Gantz.
  3. He has signaled that he will not support a bill to divest anyone from serving as PM who is under indictment for corruption, a bill that would be directed specifically against his long-term political rival Netanyahu. This is indeed magnanimous, and perhaps will deserve some reciprocation from Netanyahu in the future.

The elephant in the room is of course Netanyahu, who while for a long time under indictment for various crimes, and who has been quite vindictive as leader of the Opposition, and for most Israelis is long past his sell-by date, nevertheless is still the leader of Likud, the largest party in the Knesset. The polls predict that the stalemate of Likud remaining the largest party, but unable to form a governments after the next election, will only extend the stalemate. Israel, coming up to its fifth election in four years is now the worst democracy in the West, having no government that lasted more than a year for 5 years, although not worse than the failed state of Lebanon and many others in the Arab world. How this will all turn out is unknown, but on major issues Israel will certainly hold together.

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