Although Israel’s ruling coalition, led by Premier Naftali Bennett, has managed to cling on to power, for now, his government is proving too weak and ineffective to sustain itself long term. In the midst of this political crisis in Israeli politics is the more obvious crisis in the eyes of the international community, the oppression of the Palestinians.
Naftali Bennett, the current Israeli Prime Minister, is in a tricky predicament, having lost his parliamentary majority in the Knesset and incurring non-stop attempts by the Israeli opposition to drop his government. For those currently unaware, Bennett’s government is no usual Israeli ruling coalition, in fact, in order for him to take power last year he and many of those that agreed to form the current coalition sacrificed their political bases to do so.
The Israeli Likud Party, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, is by far the biggest single party and its leader is the most popular to the Jewish Israeli voting public. Yet, as is always the case, in order to form a government in Israel you are going to be required to work together with other parties in order to make such a regime work. After what seemed to have been an endless cycle of elections, Netanyahu’s Likud had again come away with the most seats in the Knesset, but was unable to form a government. Following a failed attempt to crush the Palestinian resistance, in Gaza and throughout Palestine, during May of 2021, a coalition of Israeli parties agreed to come together in a unity government.
As a result of the alliance of parties, ranging from the ultra-right, to the centrist and even a liberal Islamist party, Israel was able to form a government, with Yamina Party leader, Naftali Bennett, as its head. The agreement struck would allow for Bennett to become Israeli Prime Minister for the first 2 years of the coalition, with the Yesh Atid Party’s Yair Lapid taking over for the latter two years of the coalition’s rule. For outside observers in the West, the prospect of such a unity government, combining right and left parties, to oust Netanyahu, was presented as a wonderful triumph for “Israeli democracy”. However, for many Israelis, the new government spelt betrayal. It has also proven to mean that the Israeli government is incapable of following any consistent roadmap.
For Naftali Bennett and his right-wing partners, their base of voters were already small compared to that of Netanyahu’s. Now, even the strongest of loyalists for these right-wing parties are filled with contempt. For the Israeli right — in all its many forms — it was unforgivable for the parties they supported to have formed an alliance with what they see as “left-wing” and even an Arab party (Ra’am). Despite many Israelis favoring the likes of Benny Gantz (of Kahol Lavan) or even Yair Lapid, considered to be Israeli centrists, whose bases despise Benjamin Netanyahu, they were enraged to see such a government come to fruition.
Without going into any more context, the situation as it stands is that most of the leading figures that are now part of the Israeli Cabinet, will likely suffer massively in any future elections. This means that when these figures are working together on policy issues, in addition to having their own visions for Israeli policy, are also reacting to issues and attempting to hold party lines. In order for Naftali Bennett to simply remain as Prime Minister, he must appease the Right, whilst not allowing a crisis that will effect the centrists or the Ra’am Party too.
Bennett’s right-wing allies want to see hardline extremist policies against the Palestinian people, meaning that even talking with the Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas, is off the table. This is despite Benny Gantz, Israel’s Defence Minister, setting up meetings with PA officials, including Abbas. In order for Israel to stabilize the situation in the West Bank, it is a fact that they must strengthen the PA. The PA acts as a collaborator force with Israel.
Nevertheless, many Israelis genuinely think that the PA is actually out to get them and that it supports Palestinian resistance, so if Bennett seems to be getting too close to the PA, it becomes a problem. Israel is pursuing a strategy against the Palestinians, which becomes ever more violent as the days go on. With Palestinians carrying out attacks in places like Tel Aviv, in addition to resistance forces in Jenin killing invading Israeli occupation forces, the pressure mounts.
In addition to this, extremist “Temple Mount” settler groups, some of which are directly connected with the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) Party — a Netanyahu ally — are constantly stirring tensions in Jerusalem. The extremist settlers are attempting to assert Jewish dominance over the Holy City of Jerusalem, specifically in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The problem for the Israeli ruling coalition is this; if they allow the extremist settlers to go too far, Israel will undoubtably come under attack from the Palestinian resistance forces in Gaza. Yet if they try and combat the settler groups too hard Bennett’s regime will be accused of bowing down to Hamas.
The leader of the Hamas movement in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, vows that if Israel goes too far in Jerusalem, the resistance factions will immediately fire 1111 rockets as part of the first strike to declare war. A war that Hamas claims they have the ability to fight for 6 consecutive months, if need be. In addition to this, Palestinians in all of historic Palestine are rapidly rising up and choosing the path of armed resistance against Israel. This means that when Jerusalem comes under attack, it’s not only Gaza that Israelis have to worry about — the response could come from anywhere.
In a recent interview, former Israeli PM, Ehud Barak, voiced his concern that Israel may cease to exist before its 80th birthday, attributing the curse of the “8th decade” to this possibility. Then, on May 16, an even more striking analysis was allegedly offered by Benny Gantz during a closed meeting, in which he said that Palestinian control is not far away from being a reality and that the Israeli control of the land will likely shrink. This sort of anxiety may be part of why close to half of Israel’s Jewish population have allegedly considered moving countries over the past year.
All this being said, the current Israeli ruling coalition has been rendered largely ineffective at combating regional players, dealing with foreign policy and fighting the Palestinians. The only tool at Israel’s disposal, currently, is overwhelming reactionary and initiatory violence. This violence has proven completely ineffective as a method of putting down Palestinian rebellion. Israel also has no military options in Gaza and is slowly losing control of the West Bank. In addition to this, Palestinians have proven their ability to carry out attacks on Israeli police, settlers, and military, many avoiding being immediately caught afterwards.
A war with Gaza, would be Israel’s only option if they choose to allow settlers to commit extreme acts in Jerusalem, especially surrounding the al-Aqsa Mosque. If this comes around, they cannot come off as victors unless they enter Gaza on the ground, something no Israeli government wants to do because of how many troops they will lose in the process. What has become apparent, is that Israel is doomed. Even if it bounces back with a new Netanyahu government, it will be extremists and extremist policies that will provoke rebellions that Israel cannot handle. The days of Israeli Labour and the so-called “two state solution” are over, the Israeli government is a hardline Apartheid regime that will not make a single concession and goes about its business in a sloppy, violent, and uneducated way.