Soon after the current Israeli government was sworn in, Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid promised political reporters, “It’s going to be boring.” He meant that politics would no longer make hourly headlines and the government headed by Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett would bring with it political monotony, making headlines such as “coalition crisis” and “political disagreements in the government” a thing of the past.
Alas, that promise has been broken on a daily basis.
Over the past year, not a week has been crisis-free. Two senior coalition members have described the government’s dealings as “chaotic” and the next few weeks bode more of the same.
Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s desire to pass a bill extending the application of Israeli civil and criminal law in Judea and Samaria stands to trigger chaos in more ways than one.
Sa’ar has not minced words, warning that the coalition’s survival could be at stake if the legislation fails to pass. There is no way of knowing whether he will act on his ultimatum, whether New Hope MKs are negotiating with the Likud, as media reports suggest, or whether all of this is just elaborate media spin meant to pressure the other coalition partners. Nor is there a way to foresee whether Israel’s immediate future entails a snap election or the rise of an alternative government.
Every scenario carries with it significant ramifications, all of which translate into one thing: political chaos.
And then there is the actual legislation. Recent legislative proposals would have caused a ruckus had they failed, but the failure would not have been as dramatic. The citizenship bill would have made things difficult for security forces, but they would have managed; the soldiers’ tuition bill would have deprived troops of university scholarships, which is unjust, but not critical; but the Judea and Samaria bill will have an actual impact on the lives of each and every Israeli living there.
If current provisions are allowed to lapse, Israelis living in Judea and Samaria will effectively be subject to Jordanian law and with it a court-martial, regardless of the offense. The Israel Police will have no jurisdiction there, meaning Judea and Samaria localities will become a safe haven for criminals, not to mention what will happen to tax laws, dealing with security prisoners—the list goes on and on.
The current bill ensuring Israeli law applies in Judea and Samaria is set to expire on June 30. Until then, the government can vote on it again and again, giving way to endless political drama.
The coalition is likely to demand a full house for each vote, and the opposition is likely to blast the coalition for failing to pass nationalist Zionist laws. This will surely lead to slogans saying the coalition “cannot justify its existence” and the usual “putting political considerations ahead of what’s good for the state” campaign.
No one knows what tomorrow will bring to Israeli politics, but one thing is for certain: it won’t be boring.
Yehuda Shlezinger is Israel Hayom’s religious affairs correspondent.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.