Like a terminally ill patient who has defied a doctors’ predictions, the government led by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is rounding out a year in office. From the prime minister on down, the sense is that the end could come at any time. Meanwhile, willpower and miracles are keeping the patient alive, for who knows how long.
Despite these difficult political circumstances, the government is seeing not inconsiderable success. Much of it rests on former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s time in office, like the quiet in the Gaza Strip since “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” the improved economic situation, low energy prices, Israel’s freedom of action in Syria and—according to foreign reports—Iran and of course the Abraham Accords. Lapid and Bennett have managed not to completely ruin any of these things. Here and there, they even managed to make improvements.
The enormous advantage they enjoy is a very supportive American administration. U.S. President Joe Biden, like other Western leaders—insofar as they have time for us while the war in Ukraine is going on—was and is afraid Netanyahu could come back. Popular wisdom has it that the right can make peace and the left can make war. As a result, it’s relatively easy for Bennett and Lapid to build in Judea and Samaria, approve the Jerusalem Day Flag March, stop the opening of a U.S. consulate for the Palestinians in Jerusalem, hook settlement outposts up to the electric grid and so on. With a record like that, this is no left-wing government.
But, of course, we aren’t talking about a right-wing government either. Bennett, Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and President Isaac Herzog all visited with the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, the UAE and others earlier this year, hoping to prevent an outbreak of violence. Maybe they naively thought this would work, but their ineffectuality led to the opposite result—a wave of horrific terrorist attacks. The roots of this wave lie in the even more serious malady of this government—its members.
When the coalition includes figures from the Muslim Brotherhood who support terrorism and “the Palestinian struggle,” reject our right to exist in Israel and oppose visits by Jews to the Temple Mount, as well as when the government allocates billions to a sector most of whose leaders don’t even see themselves as Israeli, it’s no wonder that the genie of terrorism escaped the bottle. Jewish weakness causes Arab terrorism. That’s the way it’s always been.
On the other hand, in light of this fundamental flaw, the current government is the first one to recognize how serious a problem the country has with Israeli-Arab governability. Glossing over the problem, which was neglected for years, is no longer an option, and that’s good. The steps taken thus far are the first ones, but they are important, for both the Jews and the Arabs.
There are other hints of positive action: raising the retirement age for women, integrating haredim into the workforce, easing regulation and imports, raising soldiers’ salaries, laying optic fibers, addressing the issue of religion and state and more.
However, many reforms have stalled and some will do harm in the long term. The cost of real estate and food is sky-high. The education minister is contributing to future generations’ illiteracy. The transportation minister is busy with politics and gender, and not in command of the field. These things are causing damage we will only feel years from now.
In terms of how the government is functioning, its report card isn’t too bad. Still, there is nothing in it to redeem this government’s original sin—the lie on which it is based.
Bennett duped his voters and his partners. He still isn’t able to look them in the eye, and he won’t be redeemed. Lapid broke the promises he made for years. All simply to oust Bibi.
Was it worth it? It doesn’t look that way. The public, according to polls, is unenthusiastic, the political crisis is still here and the country is in chaos. We can’t go on like this. But a year into this government, the opposition should learn the lesson that it apparently won’t be able to form a different government, with or without elections. The outrage at losing power is understandable. But anger, as we know, isn’t a working plan.
Ariel Kahana is Israel Hayom’s senior diplomatic commentator.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.