Israel is in the midst of a crisis. At the weakest and most sensitive moment for the Bennett-Lapid government, the Islamist Ra’am Party has decided to throw it a lifeline for the precise reason that it recognizes this weakness.
With its announcement from the Knesset podium on Wednesday that it would remain in the coalition, Ra’am sent a clear message to its voters: the Israeli government has surrendered and now owes its very existence to Ra’am. It is a powerful message that one can only hope has also reached the Israeli political elite.
A weak government is easier to manipulate. And all those Israel depends on—the United States, for instance—will take advantage of its weakness. What led Israel to this point was the lack of military activity in the last two months.
The death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was killed during clashes between IDF troops and Palestinian terrorists in Jenin on Wednesday, has unsettled the arrogant political leadership more than the death of 19 Israelis in the current terror wave.
In the past, the Israeli government drew conclusions immediately and the political cards were shuffled straight away. The coalition could crumble and in its place would rise a stable national government headed by the Likud.
Likud expected that some members of Knesset, such as Ze’ev Elkin or Sharren Haskel, would assist in the government’s overthrow, but based on Elkin’s address at the Knesset on Wednesday, the chances of that are slim. And yet, everyone seems to be gearing up for elections.
Ra’am’s decision shows that its leader Mansour Abbas would prefer Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett remain in charge of the government, rather than Foreign Minister and Prime Minister-designate Yair Lapid. Bennett and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked’s interests are clear: Another election could potentially become an existential political matter for their Yamina Party. As prime minister, Bennett can take Yamina from the point where it barely crossed the Knesset threshold to as many as 10 mandates. Without the premiership, it could be Yamina’s end.
But Yamina itself is unsure what to do, and in itself, this could cause the fall of the government and ensure Lapid a few months in office as prime minister. That is, until the next election. This is the best-case scenario for the foreign minister, whose close adviser Ehud Olmert served as deputy prime minister in the Sharon government for 100 days before he won the 2006 elections and became prime minister himself.
The problem with holding another election is the chaos underway on the religious right, and this includes Yamina and the Religious Zionist Party. Many of their voters are confused and their political leaders are no less confused, which is in sharp contrast to the responsibility and internal discipline exhibited by the left.
Meanwhile, we brace for two more days of rage: “Nakba Day” and Jerusalem Day. Ra’am will now protect those who incite violence and paralyze the Israeli government. The sovereignty of the Jewish people is at risk.
Amnon Lord is a veteran journalist, film critic, writer and editor.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.