Analysis | A new political crisis in Israel: Where are we heading?

The resignation of the head of the coalition, Edith Silman, of the Yamina party, on Wednesday, caused a real political earthquake. After nine months of relative stability, Bennett Lapid’s government, already hanging by a thread, is now on edge.

Idit Silman’s exit from the coalition and his alignment with the current parliamentary opposition led to a complete parity between these two blocs, ie 60 deputies each. Concretely, the government has not only been weakened, but is now completely paralyzed: it is impossible for it to bring to fruition the multiple bills it has initiated since its formation last June or to take controversial initiatives. Even the most harmonic files can no longer be upgraded. A chaotic situation raises many questions.

How did we get here?

The main person responsible for this situation is undoubtedly Naftali Bennett. Inhaling the intoxicating air of the “tops”, between mediations with Putin, and conversations with Biden or Sisi, the prime minister forgot to spare his party’s Yamina deputies. Since the formation of the government, those MPs who remained loyal to it complained of being targeted by their constituents, which would not forgive them for joining a coalition with the left and the Islamists in Ram.

In recent weeks, concerned, among other things, by the wave of terror, Bennett has not listened to Edith Silman’s plight. And he did not measure the true value of the warning that the latter addressed to him on Sunday regarding the decision of Health Minister and Meretz leader (far left) Nitzan Horowitz, to allow the entry of prohibited foodstuffs to hospitals (Hametz) during Easter. day off. Because of his desire to spare goats and cabbage within the coalition, the prime minister provoked anger and frustration in Idit Silman, who was even criticized by… her husband, who also opposes this government.

But behind Bennett’s inescapable responsibility lies precisely the heterogeneous makeup of the coalition. It has been said over and over again: With a narrow majority of 61 deputies, this alliance has always been fragile. Among the mistakes made was the belief that after the vote on the state budget, the main obstacle was overcome, and the alliance would stabilize.

But the exact opposite happened: after the budget vote, when the memory of “Bibi the Prime Minister” began to fade, all formations of this coalition tried to please their voters, pushing their own ideology and projects. This is what Horowitz did by allowing Hamtz into hospitals, without worrying about the indignation this gesture might cause in the religious Zionist electorate from which Silman came.

In recent months, there have been several ideological and “religious” “confrontations” between the left and the right in the coalition. For Edith Silman, the Hammitz case was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And those who didn’t see it coming are at least as responsible. Especially since the lawmaker negotiated with her dissident by guaranteeing herself a preferred place in the upcoming Likud electoral list, as well as the position of health minister in the event Netanyahu forms the next government.

The opposition certainly won a battle, but it was not yet done with its troubles. With 60 deputies, including six from the Arab List, it desperately needs candidate No. 61 to definitely tip the scales in its favour. Recognizing the severity of the crisis, Bennett tried to stop it on Wednesday by appeasing his forces. But there are still two weak players inside Yamina: Representatives Nir Auerbach and Haber Carre. The first, who plans to retire from political life, could be replaced by Shirley Pinto, elected deaf-mute from Yamina (who currently sits in Parliament under the so-called Norwegian law). The latter was always critical of Bennett’s leadership and could succumb to attempts to seduce the Likud. A split from Gideon Sar’s New Hope party is also possible, but unlikely.

The two most likely scenarios

The first scenario we can expect is a traditional motion of censure followed by the dissolution of parliament: in the event the current opposition manages to mobilize this 61st MP, the most likely option is to submit a motion of censure to the parliament which would be supported by the Likud MPs, and the MPs of the two Orthodox formations (Shas and United Torah Judaism), not only by religious Zionism, but also by representatives of the Arab List who aspire to remove their opponent, Mansour Abbas, before he can lay down the sensational achievements. To enter the alliance to bear fruit on the ground.

If 61 MKs vote in favor of this no-confidence motion, the government will fall, and the 24th Knesset will be dissolved. In such a case, the parity agreement provides for Bennett to leave office immediately to be replaced by Yair Lapid as prime minister until the formation of the next government. It is worth noting that due to the parliamentary holidays that will last until May 8, the activity of the Knesset will slow down until that date, so it seems unlikely that the government will fall before the middle of the month. mayo. This is the most realistic option.

The second scenario that could arise is a constructive motion of no-confidence. This consists in bringing down the government without dissolving the Knesset. For this option to materialize, Likud must be able to count on support for a formation other than the Joint Arab List. Indeed, although this list wants new elections, there is no doubt that it supports, even from the outside, a government led by Netanyahu. Therefore, the Likud must find six representatives who are likely to support such a move.

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At first glance, the task seems impossible. However, a choice could appear in the person of Benny Gantz. It is no secret that the current defense minister is not happy with the current government. He tries to give himself a face against the tandem of Bennett and Lapid, without success. So Gantz could agree to join a possible new coalition with his seven other deputies, but with one inevitable condition: that he himself become prime minister, at Netanyahu’s expense. As surprising as it may seem, the current leader of the opposition can accept such a possibility, with the sole intent of seeing Bennett teetering in the limbo of Israel’s political history.

In the meantime, it is advisable to be careful and avoid making plans for the comet. The experience of at least the last two years of political crisis has taught us that sometimes the most wonderful scenarios can come, and that humility in forecasting must be good!

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