The escalating conflict between Israel and Gaza and frequent civil unrest between Israeli Jews and Arabs may lead to a dramatic shift in Israel’s political situation, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s (Benjamin Netanyahu) main political rival Yair Lapid’s plan to overthrow Netanyahu and form a new government dealt a serious blow.
Israel’s president announced on May 5 that he had formally authorized Lapid, the leader of the center-left “Have a Future” party, to form a new government. Before the Israeli-Palestinian conflict broke out this week, Netanyahu, who has served as prime minister for 12 years, appeared to be on the verge of losing his position of authority in Israeli politics.
A “rotation” agreement between Lapid and right-wing politician Naftali Bennett to alternate as prime minister has been proposed. Bennett will serve two years as prime minister before Lapid rotates into office. In addition to Bennett, Lapid needs the support of Arab lawmakers to gain a parliamentary majority.
But amid the fighting with Gaza and the conflict between Jews and Arabs in Israel, Bennett announced Thursday (13) that an alternative government was off the table and said he would negotiate with Netanyahu over a potential right-wing government.
Bennett cited an “emergency situation” that includes cities with Israeli and Arab citizens, which “calls for the use of force and the sending of troops into the cities,” but this is unlikely to happen in a government backed by Arab party leaders.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu is strengthening his reputation. As the leader of a strong confrontation with Palestinian militants, Netanyahu has said he wants to deal a deadly blow to Hamas and is fully committed to protecting Israel from external enemies and internal insurgents.
The cross-border Israeli-Gaza fighting has been accompanied by violence from mixed Jewish and Arab communities inside Israel. Synagogues have been attacked, street fights have been frequent and Israel’s president has even issued warnings of civil war.
Lapid has three weeks out of the 28-day mandate given to him by Israel’s president to try to form a governing coalition, during which time he could form a new government if he can get the support of 61 of the 120 members of parliament.
Israeli political commentators say Lapid’s chances of success are slim. If he fails, there is a possibility that new elections will be held, which would be Israel’s fifth in two years.
In the meantime, Netanyahu is expected to try to pass a law to change the electoral system to allow for a directly elected prime minister.