A Brief Explainer on the New Israeli Government

Mansour Abbas (Ra’am), right, signing a coalition agreement with Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), left, and right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett (Yamina) in Ramat Gan near the coastal city of Tel Aviv. (United Arab List/AFP/Getty Images)

A new government coalition is set to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of power after 12 years. The vote is Sunday June 13th, 2021. Here is what has been reported so far:

Key Players:

Benjamin Netanyahu — Likud Party (right-wing, 30 seats); Current Prime Minister of Israel (for now). He is on trial for corruption.

Yair Lapid — Yesh Atid Party (centrist, 17 seats); Will become Prime Minister after 2 years.

Naftali Bennett — Yamina Party (right-wing, 7 seats); Will become Prime Minister for first 2 years. Opposes Palestinian statehood and seeks to annex the occupied West Bank.

Additional Players:

Mansour Abbas — Chairman of the Ra’am Party (also known as the United Arab List) (Palestinian/Arab, 4 seats)

Benny Gantz — Chairman of the Blue and White Party (centrist-left, 8 seats); Current Defense Minister and staying on as Defense Minister for first 2 years. He will become Deputy Prime Minister after 2 years.

Gideon Sa’ar — Chairman of the New Hope Party (6 seats); Either soon to be Justice Minister or Deputy Prime Minister for first 2 years.

Avigdor Lieberman — Chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party (7 seats); Soon to be Finance Minister.

Ayelet Shaked — Yamina Party; Soon to be Interior Minister.

The Coalition:

+ Yesh Atid Party (centrist, 17 seats) (Prime Minister position for the last 2 years)

+ Yamina Party (right-wing, 7 seats) (Prime Minister position for the first 2 years, control the Interior Ministry — power over citizenship, residency, and entry into Israel)

+ Blue and White Party (centrist, 8 seats) (Defense Ministry — oversees the Israeli Defense Forces)

+ Labor Party (right, 7 seats) (Merav Michaeli — Transportation; Omer Barlev — Public Security Minister)

+ Yisrael Beiteinu Party (right, 7 seats) (Finance Ministry)

+ New Hope Party (right, 6 seats) (Justice Ministry; Gideon Sa’ar possibly as Deputy Prime Minister for the first 2 years)

+ Meretz Party (left-wing, 6 seats) (Nitzan Horowitz — Health Minister; Tamar Zandberg — Environmental Protection Minister)

+ Ra’am Party aka United Arab List (Arab/Palestinian, 4 seats)

= Governing Coalition (62 seat majority)

The Rules:

To form a government, you need a minimum 61-seat majority in the Knesset (parliament), or another election is held with the incumbent (Netanyahu) remaining in power.

The Deal:

What’s in it for the centrist Yesh Atid Party and the right-wing Yamina Party?

Naftali Bennett (Yamina) will be Prime Minister for the first 2 years; Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) will be Prime Minister for last 2 years while serving as Foreign Minister for the first 2 years.

What’s in it for the Palestinian/Arab Ra’am Party (United Arab List)?

Reportedly, to entice the first Arab party to join the governing coalition, part of the coalition agreement with the Ra’am Party will include a freeze on demolitions of illegal construction for nine months, a pledge by Bennett and Lapid to ask the attorney general to consider retroactively canceling all fines over illegal construction, funding for the Arab and Palestinian community, $154 million earmarked for special projects personally approved by Ra’am’s Mansour Abbas, and a ministerial portfolio within the Prime Minister’s Office.

The biggest leverage the Ra’am Party will have is withdrawing support for the governing coalition forcing another election. However, if Bennet plays the same playbook Netanyahu has since 2019 (holding on to power even without a governing coalition), he and the right-wing Yamina Party may still control the Prime Minister position and Interior Ministry. Both powerful positions with the Interior Ministry wielding power over citizenship and entry into Israel and possibly drawing support from right-wing parties to form a coalition without the Ra’am Party/United Arab List.

What does everyone at least agree on?

Everyone part of the new governing coalition want Netanyahu out and no 5th Election since 2019.

Sources:

https://www.jpost.com/israel-elections

https://www.timesofisrael.com/change-government-agenda-electoral-reform-budget-and-jerusalem-building-boom/

https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/document-signed-by-8-parties-in-intended-new-government/

https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-middle-east-israel-religion-a8e8517989213286c206d709b212dada

https://www.wsj.com/articles/israel-netanyahu-bennett-lapid-11622624494?mod=searchresults_pos1&page=1

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-israel-arab-villages-take-leading-role-in-drama-over-netanyahus-fate-11623409200?mod=searchresults_pos3&page=1

https://time.com/6073019/mansour-abbas-arab-israel-coalition-government/

I write to inform my friends as best I can.