Middle east

Israel Poised to Get New Government, Leaving Israeli Social Media Divided

For some, the decision of the hawkish Naftali Bennett to join the centre-left government of Yair Lapid was a betrayal that should not be forgiven. But for others, it was a move in the right direction that could take the country out of its current stalemate.

Two days after Naftali Bennett, the chief of the hawkish Yamina party, announced he would be willing to join the coalition of Yair Lapid, who heads Israel’s opposition, negotiations between the two continue.

Welcoming the Move

Later today, Lapid is expected to inform Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin that he’s managed to form a government. But even though the official deal has not been announced yet, Israeli tweeps have already been discussing the shaping agreement on social media platforms, and many say they are supportive of Bennett’s decision to join the coalition.

“Lapid, Bennett, Saar, Gantz, Lieberman, Michaeli, Horowitz and all the other partners – bless you, we salute you for your bravery,” wrote one tweep.

​”I have just clapped in front of the TV to Naftali Bennett. How long have we not heard such unifying and sane words. It feels like ages have passed. Thank you, Yair Lapid. It was thanks to you”.

​Their main reason for their embrace of Bennett is simple. Many say they are tired of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and they want him to leave office.

“The most important thing is to get rid of the man, who faces charges [Netanyahu – ed.] and who drives nine million people crazy. We will figure out later [what we want]: right or left…”

​Dissatisfaction with Netanyahu has always been a factor. For Israel’s liberal circles, he has been associated with the burying of the historic Oslo Accords of 1993 and with the assassination of the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered in 1995 by a Jewish extremist that was reportedly influenced by incitement.

But for the majority of ordinary Israelis, his name has also been linked to corruption, growing gaps between the rich and the poor, and to divisions within society.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in February 2020 has only made these sentiments against Netanyahu deeper, and when the first lockdown was announced, masses took to the streets to vent their anger against the PM. 

That anger has never gone away and it ended up translating into political losses, with Netanyahu failing to form a government four consecutive times.

Now as the ball is in the court of Lapid, many Israelis want him to get the job done and form a government to show Netanyahu the door. 

“Lapid is a sane leader with values… quit talking about right or left. It is irrelevant here. What is relevant is that we need to restart (given) the decay that exists here, socially and economically…”

​Not So Optimistic

However, not everyone shares these views. For many Israelis, the decision of Bennett, who has always been associated with the conservative circles, to leave that bloc and join forces with the so-called liberals was a betrayal that cannot be forgiven.

“Bennett signed a document in front of cameras saying he would not sit with Lapid. Isn’t he a liar? I don’t have enough vomit to throw up on him,” lamented one tweep.

​”I wonder how Gideon Saar, Elkin, Bennett, Matan Kahana and others will dare to offer their morning prayers when they sealed a deal with religion haters like Zandberg, Michaeli, Horowitz, Lapid, Kriv and the big dog Lieberman?” wrote another.

​That frustration doesn’t stem from ideological reasons alone. Some believe that the Bennett-Lapid coalition will not be any better from the current government. It will not bring about much-needed change, and will not be able to implement reforms, be it in the spheres of economy or security.

​Others say they are afraid of the reliance of that coalition on the Arab parties, which could potentially hamper pivotal security decisions, and there are also those, who say that the coalition will comprise of too many small parties that don’t represent the majority of the population.

​In a way, these concerns make sense. The Bennett-Lapid coalition will be comprised of seven parties, with the biggest (that of Lapid) only getting 18 out of 120 seats in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

The coalition will include lawmakers of various ideologies ranging from right-wing to radical left and doubts run high as to whether this government will last for long.

But Lapid, who is expected at Rivlin’s later today, wants to give it a chance, despite all odds.

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