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Now that the “government of change” agreement in Israel has been reached, the first challenge will be to gain the support of the majority of the Knesset without any unpleasant surprises. For this reason, the eight parties that make up the new coalition formally submitted the request to ask that next Monday, June 7, the deputies vote to replace the president of Parliament, Yair Levin, a Likud exponent. According to reports from the Israeli press, the coalition led by Yair Lapid fears that the party of the outgoing premier, Benjamin Netanyahu, could delay the session of the vote of confidence in the new executive. The new coalition counts on the support of 61 MPs, or a narrow majority among the 120 MPs of the Knesset. A single “rebel” could theoretically derail the new coalition and leave Prime Minister Netanyahu in power. Sources close to Levin quoted by the Jerusalem Post newspaper said that the president of parliament could allow the new government’s confidence vote session only on the last possible date allowed by law in order to increase the pressure on the parliamentarians of Yamina, the party of Naftali Bennett, to vote against.
These fears reflect the profound uncertainty that accompanies the birth of an executive rightly defined “historic”, both for the exclusion of Mr Security Netanyahu after almost 13 years in power, and for the presence for the first time of a ruling Arab party, the moderate Islamist Raam led by Mansour Abbas. The big crowd – eight parties very far from each other and the first two years of premiership entrusted to the techno-colonist Naftali Bennett, before moving on to the centrist Yair Lapid – represent the very high price to take out Netanyahu. He immediately called an emergency meeting with the leaders of the right-wing bloc, with the president of the Knesset Levin and with the president of the coalition MK Miki Zohar. Objective: to try to stop the Bennett-Lapid government before trust in Parliament is voted. “All MPs elected with the right vote must oppose this dangerous left government,” the Likud leader urged on Twitter. Bibi accused Bennett of “selling the Negev to Raam”.
To the premier’s incendiary tones, Lapid tries to respond with a promise: “The new government will do everything possible to unite all the components of Israeli society. Our commitment is to put ourselves at the service of all citizens of Israel, including those who do not support this government ”. With a reference to the strong attacks from the nationalist right, Lapid assured: “We are committed to respecting those who oppose us”.
The turning point came late Sunday evening, at the end of a hectic day that saw everything in danger several times. A series of interminable river meetings in the Kfar Maccabiah hotel was needed to overcome all the rocks that gradually stood in the way of the result. Eventually the center parties – There is a future and Blue White (Benny Gantz) – right – Yamina (Naftali Bennett), New Hope (Gideon Saar), Israel Casa Nostra (Avigdor Lieberman) – left – Labor and Meretz – and Raam (Arab party), signed the document that allowed Lapid to make the announcement to President Rivlin. The latest obstacles were those of Abbas and the dissension between Labor and Yamina. Raam wanted assurances on building interventions for the Arab part of society and municipal recognition for some Bedouin towns in the Negev. Labor and Yamina both wanted the presidency of the delicate commission that appoints magistrates: in the end, even here the criterion of rotation prevailed. For 2 years Ayalet Shaked, number two of Yamina and the other two Merav Michaeli, leader of Labor, will be president.
Now the ball passes to the president of the Knesset Levin who will have to indicate the date on which the Chamber will have to vote the confidence in the new government. At least 61 seats out of 120 are needed. A delicate step that could also reserve unwelcome surprises, given that there are individual deputies from the coalition parties – especially Yamina – who said they disagreed.
Until the end, the pro-Netanyahu bloc tried to put pressure – across the square – on right-wing leaders gathered in the hotel for negotiations. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the hotel, threatening Yamina’s deputies if they agreed to make an executive with Lapid. These were joined by Likud members, recalled for a “private event” outside the facility by the Minister of Public Security, Amir Ohana. For the right linked to Netanyahu, the new coalition is “a shame”. “The left is celebrating, but this is a sad day for Israel,” tweeted Miki Zohar, a Likud deputy and close ally of the premier. “Bennett, (New Hope leader, Gideon) Sàar and (Yamina number 2, Ayelet) Shaked should be ashamed.” Even the head of religious Zionism Bezalel Smotrich, who in the past was a close ally of Bennett, accused the leader Yamina of having planned from the beginning the alliance with Lapid to oust Netanyahu: “This is what we broke up for, the one about which he knowingly lied during the entire election campaign ”.
The launch of the new government took place at the end of a day that saw the election of Isaac Herzog as the new president of Israel. At the first ballot, the Knesset designated him by voting for him with 87 preferences. The current president of the Jewish Agency – scion of the Ashkenazi Zionist aristocracy who founded Israel – has beaten the challenger Miriam Peretz, an outsider from a diametrically opposite world, the Sephardic one of immigrants from Arab countries, but at the same time the other face of the country. Herzog – for his friends Bougie – crowned his long rise to power: he is the son of a father Chaim Herzog, who was the sixth president of Israel before him. Surprisingly defeated by Netanyahu in the 2015 general elections: “I intend to be the president of everyone, to listen to all the voices – he said in the speech of acceptance of the appointment after receiving the congratulations of the premier himself – in an attempt to trace the lines of convergence both within our society and with our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora ”. “The challenges – he continued – are many and must be taken with great consideration. It is essential to heal the bloody wounds that have opened up in our society in recent times. We must also defend Israel’s international position and its good name among the peoples. We must also fight anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. We need to protect the pillars of our democracy ”.