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George Birnbaum is a global political advisor and was most just lately the chief strategist and pollster for Naftali Bennett, the chief of Israel’s New Proper occasion.
JERUSALEM — A brand new daybreak has seemingly damaged in Israeli politics. After 12 years as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s days are numbered, and his authorities seems to be set to get replaced by a coalition made up of eight opposition events. The members of this unlikely alliance span the ideological spectrum — from the left-wing, social democratic occasion Meretz to the right-wing, nationalist Yamina. Remarkably, it additionally consists of the Arab Islamist Ra’am occasion, marking the primary time in Israel’s historical past an Arab occasion will likely be a part of a coalition authorities.
Ought to this “authorities of change” win a vote of confidence within the coming days, will probably be led by the person I supported and labored for in March’s normal election, Naftali Bennett — an immensely spectacular politician. The actual fact we’re the place we’re right this moment demonstrates his statesmanship and political acumen. I’ve recognized him for greater than 20 years and he’s disciplined, sensible, entrepreneurial and basically needs to enhance the lives of all Israelis, Jews and Arabs.
There isn’t any avoiding nonetheless, he has taken an enormous threat. His core voters is not going to thank him for what he has achieved this week, and if there was an election tomorrow, the autumn from grace can be dramatic. I personally imagine by placing his profession on the road for what he believes to be proper, he has demonstrated true management and has proven his passionate dedication to Israel, and to its individuals.
Within the 25 years I’ve labored in Israeli elections, there has at all times been an ideological break up: peace vs. safety, secular vs. faith, however this election was distinctive. The break up was between pro-Bibi and anti-Bibi — for and in opposition to Israel’s longest serving prime minister. That’s the solely factor holding these diametrically opposed coalition events collectively — and that’s what is going to make the following stage so perilous for Bennett, and certainly all the opposite members of his broad coalition.
Getting elected is the straightforward half. Governing will likely be far more durable. Bennett’s problem will likely be to navigate the stresses and strains of coalition authorities in a rustic that has large political and financial points to know.
My intuition tells me the leaders of the coalition will do their stage finest to keep away from the extra delicate points dealing with Israel and hope to defer them to a future authorities. Nevertheless, the need from Europe and america for a two-state resolution is perpetually rising, and the stress between Israel and Hamas stays at a boiling level following the latest violence. Then there’s the social and financial prices of the COVID-19 pandemic. A problem in themselves, additionally they supply a possibility for Naftali and others to make use of this essential process as a basis on which to construct bridges for extra controversial coverage debates.
There’s one factor for sure, Netanyahu’s shadow will loom massive within the coming months. Having served as his chief of employees after he was first elected prime minister, I might by no means rule him out. He has proven himself to be a political magician and survivor. He received’t depart with no struggle, and if he loses the vote of no confidence subsequent week, he will likely be ruthless in opposition.
Lots of the 61 members of the Knesset who’ve joined forces to oust Bibi are already cautious of such a broad coalition. They’ll discover themselves beneath colossal strain. All Netanyahu will want at any level to deliver the federal government down is one vote. Even when he loses this battle, which now seems to be probably, he’ll hold preventing the political battle.
No matter lies forward, we have now already witnessed world historical past. My perception is that Bennett’s disciplined character, statesmanship and his willpower to present Israelis stability and keep away from a fifth election in two years will see him drive this coalition ahead. It is going to be the largest problem of his life, nevertheless it may see Israel extra united. And a extra united Israel can solely be a constructive factor for the Center East and the world.