Perspectives on Israel's new government
June 25, 2021
A friend of mine and faithful reader of my column (I hope!) asked me to share with him my perspectives on the new political situation in Israel and the impact it will have on future relations between Israel and the U.S. government, American Jewish communities, and the Arab world.
I told him I would love to respond to his request, but in truth given the complexities of the Mideast and my lack of a crystal ball, the most accurate answer I could respond with is “I don’t know!”
However, as a columnist I do have literary license to speculate on what might occur in the near future so here goes:
• President Biden will try to get the upper hand and ride roughshod over the new coalition government given the weak base in the Knesset of its rookie prime minister, Naftali Bennett. Bennett’s party, Yamina, holds only seven seats out of the 120-seat Israeli Parliament. One of his own party members abstained in voting for the new coalition government because of the necessary inclusion of an Arab-Israeli party to make up a voting majority in the Knesset, leaving the coalition with one less dependable vote.
• Bennett will hold the office, according to the Coalition Agreement, for only two years; and then give way to his coalition partner, Yair Lapid, whose party, Yesh Atid, actually won more seats in Parliament (17). Lapid is the new foreign minister. The last time this arrangement was tried between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz the coalition quickly fell apart and triggered new elections. This may happen again.
• Bennett maintains strong ideological rightwing positions. He is dedicated to the concept of a “Greater Israel” and the absolute necessity of keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapons capability. The new prime minister will privately and publicly if necessary, resist American insistence on rejoining the nuclear deal, and the relief of sanctions against the Iranian regime. Bennett and the Security Cabinet will also continue military operations at whatever appropriate level Israel deems necessary for its national security.
• Bennett intends to reach out to the American Jewish Community but should expect a cold reception from the rigid ideological Jewish progressives; and the split in American Jewry’s support for Israel will continue to be reflected in a less supportive Democrat Party in Congress.
• Leftist antisemitism/anti-Zionism will continue to rage in the United States as the “Squad” and its congressional allies continue their venomous attacks and untruthful hate speech on the floor of the House of Representatives and in the media without punitive political consequences imposed by the House Leadership.
• The Abraham Accords will continue to be strengthened by the current signatories, but other Arab nations will postpone joining during this period, not because of any weakness on the part of the new Israeli government, but because of the appeasement mentality of the Biden Administration regarding the Iranians and the Palestinians.
• The status quo of no direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will continue. As long as American money is again gratuitously flowing to the Palestinian Authority and to UNRWA with no requirement for Palestinian concessions or UNRWA promised reforms, there is no incentive for the corrupt leadership of the PA to resume serious negotiations.
• As competition between Hamas and the PA for political support increases in the PA administered areas of Judea and Samaria, and in the face of cancelled elections that were never intended to occur, expect increased Hamas induced and incited terrorism against Israel in these areas, in Israel (including Judea and Samaria) and from Gaza. Look for an even greater increase in terrorist attacks in Jerusalem from Palestinians.
• Radical Arab Israeli citizen attacks against Jews and synagogues in several cities throughout the country during the recent Hamas/Israel hostilities raised the possibility of an emergent 5th column within the Arab Israeli community. Although RAAM (sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood), one of the Arab Israeli political parties, is a part of the government coalition, this development could become a serious internal security threat within Israel in the years ahead.
If you wish to comment or respond you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do so in a rational, thoughtful, respectful and civil manner.
Mel Pearlman holds B.S. & M.S. degrees in physics as well as a J.D. degree and initially came to Florida in 1966 to work on the Gemini and Apollo space programs. He has practiced law in Central Florida since 1972. He has served as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando; was a charter board member, first vice president and pro-bono legal counsel of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida, as well as holding many other community leadership positions.