Let’s Tune In: The Leader of the Middle East is Out of Control

Giuseppe Maria Bartalotta
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Let’s Tune In is a weekly column produced by our Newsroom team to highlight one story that you might have missed from last week. You can read more about our weekly content on the Newsroom page.

Israeli knesset (the name of Israel’s parliament) voted to disperse on 30th June 2022 and to hold new elections in November. This vote ended the shortest government Israel has ever had and the Presidency adventure of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Bennett’s role will be taken by Yesh Atid (Israeli political party) head Yair Lapid who will become Prime Minister.

From the parliamentary elections of April 2019, the Israeli government experienced several problems with the Knesset. Since that election, the country experienced five elections in three and a half years. Despite a majority of Knesset members being right-wing in April 2019, Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of Israel’s largest party, the right-wing Likud, was unable to form a government and the Knesset dissolved itself. Another election six months later also did not lead to a government and the Knesset dissolved itself again. Then, in March 2020, a unity government between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, of the Blue and White party, was formed, but it collapsed in December of the same year.

This instability could be addressed by assuming that the electoral system based on nationwide proportional representation of the country could have had an important role but this would not explain everything because in general there were 20 parliamentary elections in 75 years. Sure, the proportional electoral system has had its role in this instability, but, the political scenario in general changed with the weakening of the strongest parties in favor of the smalls, the personalization of politics, and in the end the loss of control of the legislative process by the Prime Minister. Another factor could have been the brutally changing Israel’s politics experienced when there was an important turmoil that involved Netanyahu the last important country’s leader who led Israel from 2009 until 2021.

Netanyahu’s travails allowed an opening for Bennett and Lapid, who did the unimaginable, and formed a coalition that included parties from Israel’s right and left, as well as an Islamist one representing Palestinian citizens of Israel. These ideological differences in one coalition were a first for Israel and, in the end, it did not work anyway.

At the moment Yair Lapid will be the Prime Minister of Israel, until the 1st of November 2022. He is the head of the Yesh Atid which is a liberal political party in Israel. Founded by Yair Lapid in 2012, it seeks to represent what it considers the center of Israeli society: the secular middle class. It focuses primarily on civic, socio-economic, and governance issues, including government reform and ending military draft exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox.

The instability of the scenario Fotografia In Bianco E Nero Di Sabbia.

Professor Gideon Rahat holds the Gersten Family Chair in Political on the Netanyau Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem said: “He [Netanyahu] has a trial and the only way he thinks he can defend himself in this trial is by staying in politics and using his political power to defend himself,” Rahat said. “He remembers what happened to [former Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert, who went to jail [for corruption], and he’s afraid the same will happen to him. I think that once he has the opportunity, he will try to change the [judicial] system for his own good to make sure he doesn’t go to jail or that his trial will take forever.”

Netanyahu said in an address to parliament ahead of Thursday’s vote: “They promised change, they spoke about healing, they tried an experiment, and the experiment failed..,We are the only alternative: a strong, stable, responsible nationalist government.”

The situation in Israel is complex and not only there but also in the Middle East. The country had never faced this kind of crisis and this period (from 1st July-1st November 2022) will be necessary to make order in the political scenario and the coalitions. Maybe the scenario needs a change in its proportional electoral system due to the change they experienced and, surely, Israel needs to clarify Netanyahu’s position and his involvement in the scandals he is facing.

Will Israel be able to manage this political fragmentation? Will Israel return to be politically stable?

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Let’s Tune In: The …

by Giuseppe Maria Bartalotta time to read: 3 min