As more time passes, the more the Israeli government’s conduct resembles a struggle for survival. This past week, for example, the offices of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid were too busy to manage the country’s affairs, because they were wrapped up in the attempt to salvage their coalition.
From the directors-general and senior advisers (those who are left) to the department heads, secretaries, clerks and spokespeople—all are on a single mission: to prevent the fall of the government. From their perspective, this is nothing less than a national imperative, on behalf of which all the country’s resources can be committed—from money to security. Everything will be sacrificed on the altar of political survival.
The major question that now looms before the coalition pertains to the budget. Approval of a national budget is a major issue for the parties in the opposition, and cooperation with the government in this area is a near-impossible proposition for those who want it to fall. That said, certain compromises can always be reached for the right price.
The current government has shown it is willing to pay, and a lot. The Haredim are on the sidelines as Avigdor Lieberman continues to hit them with reforms and other policies that are not in the interest of the Haredi sector, and there’s no doubt that some of them would be happy to have it all stop in exchange for cooperation with the government. The more Lieberman pummels them, the more a single Haredi member of Knesset will be credited as the one who saved the day. By the way, not all the Haredi factions are necessary in this regard. It’s enough for one MK to abstain, and the coalition will have a majority.
The budget could also wear the government down if the coalition breaks its own record for payments and concessions to extortionists. In the meantime, it continues to appease the Knesset’s Arab representatives. As of now, most of the partners in the coalition would rather bite their tongues than come out against the Arab MKs—whether their allies in the Ra’am party or those in the Joint List who provide them with a safety net.
When Ahmad Tibi called MK Merav Ben-Ari the “scum of the earth” after she refused to express remorse over the death of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, Lapid—who is her party chairman—said on Twitter that “Merav is the best,” but didn’t say a word about Tibi.
In a discussion at the Knesset’s Education Committee, New Hope MK Sharren Haskel removed Yoseph Hadad—an Arab Israeli activist for coexistence who is proud to wave the Israeli flag, serve in the IDF and support the country—after he was called a “collaborator” and “traitor to his people” by MK Aida Touma-Sliman of the Joint List. This is how the List views an Arab who wants coexistence and supports IDF service. These are the people with whom the current government has chosen to do business. Haskel, who ran the meeting, heard the slanderous remarks and did nothing. Hadad was escorted out by security. Sliman remained in her seat, safe and sound.
Mati Tuchfeld is Israel Hayom’s senior political correspondent.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.