JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) — Israel’s prime minister’s government limped into the opening of the collapsing parliament’s summer session on Monday.
Less than a year after taking office, Naftali Bennett has lost his parliamentary majority, his own party is crumbling and a key government partner has suspended cooperation with the coalition. This has laid the groundwork for a possible attempt by the opposition, led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to topple the government later this week.
While Bennett appears poised to fend off this immediate challenge, his long-term prospects are uncertain at a time when the administration is deeply divided on major issues, Israel faces a continuing wave of stabbings and shootings by part of lone Palestinian attackers and a confrontation with the United States over the construction of settlements in the West Bank is looming.
Boaz Toporovsky, acting chairman of the coalition, acknowledged that the coalition is in the midst of a “serious crisis” but was optimistic about its survival. “The whole world understands that we are at a crossroads that can lead to, God forbid, elections in Israel,” he told the Israeli public broadcaster Kan.
The new government made history when it took office in June last year, ending a long stalemate in which the country went through four rounds of inconclusive elections in just two years. To avoid what would have been another election, Bennett assembled a diverse eight-party coalition with little in common beyond his shared animosity toward Netanyahu.
The new coalition, which includes hardline religious nationalists opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, moderate leftists and, for the first time in an Israeli coalition, an Islamist Arab party, agreed to set aside the most contentious issues. of the country and focus on areas of broad consensus.
The administration has managed to pass a budget, weather the coronavirus pandemic, and strengthen relations with both the Biden administration and Israel’s Arab allies. Bennett has also become an amazing mediator in the Ukraine-Russia war, speaking regularly with the leaders of both countries.