Updated: Jul 14
The new coalition government in Israel (a mixed political grouping) may not be too helpful in resolving the Israel/Hamas dispute. It could turn out that not having Netanyahu as Premier could be helpful – as he was certainly seen as an obstacle to peace effort – at least with Hamas. Among the many ironies of the Israeli political scene is the fact that Naftali Bennett is a right-winger and former assistant to Netanyahu. Bennett has, in the past, been opposed to a two state solution regarding the Palestinians. Yet, he needed the precious votes of a controlling number of representatives in the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) to cause a government change – the first one in 12 years.
Continuing the irony and the drama of Israel’s situation is the composition of the “coalition” which ended the Netanyahu era. Included for the first time ever is an Arab-Israeli party (which is bound to bring interesting considerations to the new government).
Also, interesting is the context in which the new coalition government comes to power. The opposition (a new place the Netanyahu backers find themselves in) has pledged to fight hard to make the coalition-government fall. Two recent reports (from press sources) reflect on the critical tight-rope which the new Israeli government tries to master. It has been reported by the Associated Press that, in essence, things may change in Israel “but not for Palestinians” (AP Morning Online Report – June 15, 2021). The attempt by the new Israeli coalition to retain the status quo (even though the government changed) does not portend well for Palestinians. The status quo could mean expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank and allowing right-wing parades to continue in Jerusalem. Remember, Naftali Bennett was, himself, against a “two-state” solution.
The recent Israeli air attack response to fire balloons from Gaza and the rush of international mediators to try to keep the peace in Gaza shows that the new Israeli government will respond with force to Hamas attacks.
So what does all this mean?
The first question is: will the new Government in Israel even survive? Netanyahu and his cronies are determined to cause hardship and pain for colleagues and countrymen who should rather offer their support to the new government.
The next question is multi-partyism a good thing – especially in a small, vulnerable country? I remember on a visit to Israel years ago, I asked how many political parties there were in Israel, and the answer I got was “How many seats are there in the Knesset”. Even then I knew it would not be easy to get a uniform political position on almost anything. Yet, somehow, this little nation not only survives, but seems to be expanding its credibility even into hitherto impossible places (like other countries of the Middle East and North Africa).
There are, in my opinion, several reasons that it seems Israel achieves any success. 1. Israel has one of the best military capabilities in the world. Certainly, for its size, its military and technical abilities is impressive and allows it influence far above the nation’s size. 2. What used to be (and may still be) an enemy of gigantic size (such as Iran) keeps the little nation on its toes. 3. The Jewish population – a diverse group (and now even Israeli Arabs) have a great history – and even beloved by many in the world. 4. It certainly helps to have big and powerful friends (such as the U.S. and many European nations). Turkey used to be a close friend. Where they are now on Erdogan is almost anyone’s guess.
What will happen next? I would not dare even a guess, but there can be no question that whatever happens in the Middle East, will get everyone’s attention.