Friday, May 27, 2022

Israeli Prime Minister’s government meets the new session of Parliament

JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) — The government of Israel’s beleaguered prime minister was on the verge of collapse at the opening of parliament’s summer session on Monday.

Less than a year after taking office, Naftali Bennett has lost his parliamentary majority., his own party is falling apart and a major governing partner has suspended cooperation with the coalition. It has set the stage for a possible attempt by the opposition, led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to topple the government later this week.

While Bennett appears prepared to meet this immediate challenge, his long-term prospects are uncertain at a time when the government is deeply divided over key issues, Israel the lone wolf of an ongoing wave of stabbings and shootings by Palestinian attackers. facing and ongoing conflict with the United States over West Bank settlement construction.

Coalition’s acting chairman Boaz Toporowski acknowledged the coalition was in the midst of a “serious crisis”, but said he was optimistic it would survive. “Everyone understands that we are at a crossroads, which could bring an election in heaven, an election in Israel,” he told Israeli public broadcaster Cannes.

The new government made history when it took office last June, ending a long deadlock in which the country went through four rounds of inconclusive elections in just two years. To face what would be another election, Bennett stitched together a diverse coalition of eight parties beyond their shared animosity towards Netanyahu.

The new coalition, including hardline religious nationalists opposed to the Palestinian state, the Dovish leftist and, for the first time, an Israeli coalition, an Islamic Arab partyAgreed to sidestep the country’s most divisive issues and focus on areas of broad consensus.

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The government has managed to pass a budget, navigate the coronavirus pandemic, and strengthen ties with both the Biden administration and Israel’s Arab allies. Bennett has also emerged as a surprising mediator in the Ukraine-Russia war, Constantly talking to the leaders of both the countries.

Although Bennett, who leads a small religious-nationalist party, has ruled out peace talks with the Palestinians, he has tried to defuse tensions by taking steps to improve living conditions in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Is.

This cautious approach has been tested time and again. A member of Bennett’s Yamina party accused him of abandoning his nationalist ideology after the government took office. A second member followed suit last month, leaving the coalition and opposition equally divided in the 120-seat parliament.

Weeks of Israeli-Palestinian violence, much of it tension and fighting at Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site, prompted Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Islamist Arab Ram faction in the coalition, to suspend cooperation. Abbas has not said whether he will resume cooperation or join the opposition in efforts to topple the coalition this week.

“We are not in such a simple trouble with Ram,” Toporovsky said, adding that he understood the Islamic Party’s frustration at the slow pace of effecting change for Israel’s Arab citizens.

Netanyahu is considering whether to move a motion this week to dissolve parliament and hold new elections. Such a move is risky. At least one of the remaining members of the Alliance would be required to accompany him, and there is no guarantee that this would happen. If he fails, he will not be able to present a similar resolution for the next six months as the ongoing corruption trial against Netanyahu moves forward.

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Former MP Johann Plesner, who is now the president of the Israel Democracy Institute, said he expected the coalition to weather the storm, at least in the short term.

Even unhappy coalition members will have a lot to lose if the country has to go into fresh elections, he said. Abbas, for example, has begun to see the huge budget he has achieved to flow into the poor Arab communities he represents.

But any member of the coalition can now pressure the government to pursue projects being opposed by other partners. This week, an Israeli planning committee is expected to approve plans to build some 4,000 new homes in the Jewish settlements. in the occupied West Bank, despite vocal opposition from the United States and most of the international community. The construction project is being carried forward by members of Bennett’s own party, which draws much of its support from the settler community.

“The next few days will allow us to know whether the coalition is in a serious but stable state or in a critical but unstable state,” Plesner said. “The immediate areas to watch are either the Ram Party, or parts of it, or elements within Yamina.”

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