The newly announced Israeli unity government has to run the gauntlet of a week-long Knesset opposition attempt to dissuade members of the burgeoning new government from supporting their parties’ participation in the new government in an effort to reduce their mandate below the required 61 seat mandate.
It seems unlikely that they will succeed, so what of the new unity government?
The big surprise was the commitment, even courage, of Mansour Abbas who stood firm in the face of unseemly character assassination efforts and physical threats against him by Israeli Arabs in a failed effort to prevent him from supporting a Zionist government.
Despite this negativity, there is a strong feeling in Israel that most Israeli Arabs want to be loyal and prospering Israeli citizens. Israeli Jews accept and appreciate the contribution of Israeli Arabs in Israeli society. We met them increasingly during the Covid crisis. They were the doctors, nurses and hardworking orderlies in our hospitals, health clinics and pharmacies. One of them gave me my first Covid vaccination.
It remains to be seen if the Raam Arab party truly wants to improve the lives of the Arab minority. The hope and expectation is that they do.
Lapid and Bennett are betting the farm that Mansour Abbas is the real deal, and not fake news.
The other fake news item going the round is that this new government is a left wing government. Not true. More parties come from the right, not from the left. Furthermore, if any of the two left wing parties want to introduce Socialist or Marxist policies they will first have to be approved by the majority of the coalition and, later, to be voted on in the Knesset which will have a strongly right wing opposition including the Likud, the Religious Zionist Party, as well as two other religious parties.
In the past, Israel has survived a unity government that included Likud and Labour.
So give it a chance.
I have explained, on several radio shows, that Bibi fell because of Bibi’s hubris.
One example. Bibi invited Bennett, Ganz, and Saar to be rotational prime ministers. They rejected his offer. Having worked with him in the past they could not bring themselves to work with him again. The trust factor had been lost. Once bitten, twice shy.
But, what Bibi failed to do was offer members in his own party a rotational prime ministership. Had he done so, several parties would have joined with the Likud to form a strong right wing government. But Bibi failed to bite the bullet that would have produced what he claimed he wanted, a right wing majority. Now, many leading Likud MKs are angry with Bibi for forcing them into the opposition benches.
One symbolic event will emerge if this unity government passes the Knesset acceptance process.
For the first time in the history of the modern Jewish State, the world will see a kippah-wearing Prime Minister.
At a time when Jews in America and Europe are being attacked, Israel responds to the people who call us racists and Arab haters with a yarmulke-wearing PM leading a government that includes, for the first time, an Arab representing an Islamic Party in a Zionist government.
Make use of this information in your education efforts on behalf of Israel. It stops the Israel-haters in their tracks, the ones who call Israel a racist and an apartheid state.
Barry Shaw, Senior Associate at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, and the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS and Anti-Semitism’ and ‘BDS for IDIOTS.’