The Calm Before the Next Storm
Ma’ariv, Israel, November 9
The Knesset Speaker’s announcement on Friday morning that “there is a budget in Israel,” was received with roars of joy and stormy applause from members of the government, led by Prime Minister Nafatli Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid. The government’s ability to narrowly pass the budget through a 61-member coalition was no small feat, which eliminated the immediate threat of dissolving the Knesset and sending Israelis back to the ballot box. For Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid, the approval of the budget had special significance. According to the rotation agreement with Bennett, Lapid is expected to assume the prime minister’s throne in August 2023, but even if the government is dissolved before then, Lapid will in any case lead the cabinet until the next election. That said, if there is a feeling among Bennett’s and Lapid’s coalition members that now, after consecutive nights without sleep, they have finally reached rest and can dive into their winter nap, then they are sorely wrong. Indeed, experience shows that, in politics, quiet is nothing more than the calm before the next storm. And storms are soon to erupt over political and security issues, due to legislation in the Knesset, the demand for the establishment of a committee of inquiry into the submarine issue, and the list goes on. Disagreements in the government are manifested mainly at the edges, among religious Zionists on the right and Meretz on the left, with the opposition doing everything in its power to exploit the unconventional composition of the government to spark controversy. On the agenda are several explosive policy issues that could shock the coalition, such as the issue of settlement construction, the fate of the settlement in Evyatar, and the US administration’s intention to open a consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem. On the legislative front, Bennett will very soon be required to decide what his position is on the ‘Netanyahu law’ initiated by Justice Minister Gideon Saar. This is a bill that prohibits a prime minister from serving while under an indictment. As you may recall, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked opposes the proposal. The Citizenship Law also is in the pipeline. This law was voted down in the Knesset’s plenum due to the opposition of the Joint Arab List. And, if that’s not enough, the head of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz, is planning on promoting legislation that would look into Israel’s decision to acquire submarines from Germany, alongside other explosive topics like illegal construction in Arab towns and criminal activity within the Arab sector. All of these issues will pose significant challenges to the unity of the Bennett-Lapid government. – Arik Bendar (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)
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