“The experiment with you has failed”, snapped the Jewish deputy of the right-wing Yamina party, Nir Orbach, to his coalition partner, the Muslim legislator of the Islamist Arab Raam party, Mazen Ghnaem, shortly after he broke the voting discipline of the most heterogeneous coalition in the history of Israel.

After losing several votes this week in the Knesset, the government is celebrating its first year of life which, as some of its members admit and all its rivals predict, will be its last. The coalition of eight parties was born in an unexpected emergency birth with the support of 61 of the 120 deputies, and is about to die with 60, if the day smiles, or less if several legislators surprise again like Ghnaem. Or Orbach himself, who is in talks with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud to switch sides in exchange for a spot on his list.

Orbach belongs to Naftali Bennett’s party, which after the elections in March 2021 agreed with the centrist leader Yair Lapid on a rotation Executive with parties belonging to the left, center and right and the Arab sector to get out of the labyrinth in which the Israelis they were immersed with four elections in two years around the figure of the former prime minister since 2009 and, now, on trial for corruption.

Created based “on 80% consensus, leaving the remaining 20% ​​on the sidelines”, the Government has run into a reality that is not so idyllic. The two captains of the ship, the ‘premier’ Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid, have had to overcome icebergs caused by issues of the conflict with the Palestinians, such as the tension and clashes in the Esplanade of the Mosques, the Palestinian attacks, the evacuation or construction in settlements in the West Bank, etc.; ideological differences and about the relationship between the State and religion; personal ambitions and an aggressive opposition willing to do anything to sink them.

And “everything” means, for example, voting against the rules, extended every five years, that extend Israeli legislation to the inhabitants of the settlements in the West Bank occupied in the 1967 war despite the fact that they mostly voted for Netanyahu bloc. “The majority in Judea and Samaria understands that the main thing is the fall of a weak government that depends on anti-Zionists,” Likud deputy Miki Zohar justified.

The Arab Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi has also voted against despite the fact that her party, the leftist Meretz, asked her not to because that would not change the situation in the West Bank, but rather the composition of the Government.

Meretz never imagined, not even in his worst nightmares, that his six seats would crown the former director general of the Settlements Council as prime minister. His support for measures he traditionally opposed is because Israeli policy is often a choice between a bad and a lousy option. And the worst thing for the left in a sociologically right-wing country is to return to the opposition and allow the return of a Netanyahu supported by ultra-nationalists and ultra-Orthodox and reinforced in the polls. “Because of historic coalition agreements bringing Jews and Arabs together, we pay a necessary price to avoid the alternative that is horrible for Israel,” said leftist Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz.

Not even in the worst nightmares of the religious nationalist Yamina did a government supported by Islamists identified with the Palestinian cause appear. For his leader Bennett, it has also been a dream since he received the opportunity of a lifetime from him: the head of government. His nightmare is to manage a party that, out of seven deputies, has remained in five due to the aforementioned coalition pact that, in fact, began to falter in April with the abandonment of the parliamentary head of Yamina, Idit Silman, also ‘fished’ for Likud.

In an almost impossible mission, Lapid and Bennett try to survive until July 23 when the Knesset dissolves for vacation and thus prevent it from doing so due to the calling of elections. That would give the coalition a few more months, although each week depending on the whims and interests of any deputy in a country in which, moreover, each event tightens the rope between rightists, leftists and Arabs.

Hence, the big question in the corridors of Parliament in Jerusalem is no longer the date of the elections, but who will be the transitional prime minister. According to the rotation agreement, Lapid (with 17 seats, is the one with the most support in the coalition) will assume the head of government in 2023, but he would do so earlier if Bennett’s conservative bloc causes the electoral advance. If the culprit is the centre-left or Raam, Bennett would remain prime minister. It is not something trivial. The position can be extended given that the polls do not grant any block the 61 necessary deputies.

Bennett-Lapid govern without a majority in the Knesset while Netanyahu lacks the majority for an alternative government. That is why all roads in Israel lead to the polls.

The Government has summed up the year highlighting the approval of the budget after three years blocked, the reduction of crime in the Arab sector, economic growth of 8%, 2.9% unemployment, the budget deficit of 0.04%, the consolidated relations with several Arab countries and improved relations with the US and the EU, the management without closures against the coronavirus and the quietest year in the south, with six projectiles launched by the Gaza militias out of the 3,250 in 2021, although these included the confrontation on a large scale with Hamas.

The opposition, for its part, has accused the government of the significant increase in prices, the erosion of the country’s Jewish identity, the lack of security and “not responding to Palestinian attacks because it depends on supporters of terrorism” alluding to the Arab Raam . Also from the opposition, the other Arab bloc accuses him of being “more right-wing” than Netanyahu’s. His rivalry with Raam is so great that he will support the law for the dissolution of the chamber, even though it may mean the coming to power of more nationalist sectors.

The Knesset has seen it all since its first session in 1949, but nothing comparable to the harsh confrontations and rare alliances of the last year, which began with the investiture of an unprecedented coalition that could be spending its last months.

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