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What to expect from Netanyahu's fourth government

The new government, which could  survive longer than most observers expect, intends to resume the implementation of the Prawer Plan, aimed to force the Bedouin Palestinian population in the “unrecognized villages” into a narrow territory. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu at the first Knesset session following the 2015 elections (photo: Haim Tzach, Government Press Office)

Prime Minister Netanyahu at the first Knesset session following the 2015 elections (photo: Haim Tzach, Government Press Office)

Benjamin Netanyahu’s fourth government was sworn in in the nick of time. Due to last-minute controversies over cabinet positions, President Reuven Rivlin and the family members of the new ministers had to wait a couple of hours for the special Knesset session to begin. Alongside the coalition negotiations, prolonged to the very maximum allowed by the law, Thursday night serves as a reminder of the difficulties Netanayhu is sure to face in maintaining his narrow coalition, which rests on the support of a mere 61 lawmakers out of the Knesset’s 120.

This, however, doesn’t mean that it will be a short-lived government, as some observers were all too quick to predict. Israel had similarly narrow governments in the past, and some of them even carried out major policy decisions: Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo II agreement in 1995 with an unstable 61 government, and Menachem Begin invaded Lebanon in 1982 with the same majority. (Though, admittedly, declaring war with a narrow coalition is not a big deal, since most of the opposition usually supports any military action the government undertakes.)

The fate of a coalition is often determined by the interests of a certain party in breaking away from the government and risking elections or, worse still, being left out when an alternative government is formed. Right now, I don’t see any party with such an interest, nor do I see any member of the coalition – not even the mere two necessary – who would benefit from siding with the opposition. The settlers and the hard right certainly don’t have a better alternative than this government, and the same goes for the ultra-Orthodox. My hunch is that for the time being, Netanyahu is not going anywhere.

Executing policies is a different thing, though, and this government will have very limited room to maneuver. This means an endless give and take with every MK on each bill – be it inconsequential legislation or major reform.

It’s clear that this government will not change course on the Palestinian issue. The traditional distinction between “pragmatists” and “hardliners,” or “hawks and doves,” doesn’t make sense here. All of the members of this government who have some sort of bearing on the Palestinian issue – from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely to Netanyahu himself – are united in their opposition to Palestinian statehood or to any sort of territorial concessions.

And it’s not that they have an alternative way to end the occupation – they simply want to keep things as they are, while expanding settlements. And the rest – Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon or the ultra-Orthodox ministers – simply don’t care. There was a funny moment in Netanyahu’s speech last night, when he said that his government will seek peace, and all the Arab MKs broke into spontaneous laughter, which pretty much captures everything (watch it here, around 0:30).

هههههاحلى 5 دقايق ب 2015حفلة!!!!الكل يحضر

Posted by Anan Soheil Muzalbet on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Don’t believe their pledges to annex Area C, the 60 percent of the West bank that is under direct Israeli administrative control, either. Though settler leaders call for that from time to time, it would be counterproductive for their purposes. It’s actually easier to build settlements or expropriate land under military law, and why risk the international outcry that such a change to the status quo would provoke? What we see now is Netanyahu’s final-status solution. There is no need to look any further.

With the fate of the West Bank and Gaza on hold, and major reforms depending on the goodwill of every single coalition member, I believe that much of the political energy will be invested in the internal culture war, including steps against the Palestinian minority in Israel proper – the so-called Arab-Israelis.

The right already expressed the desire to push legislation that would limit the ability of human rights NGOs and other anti-occupation groups to fundraise abroad, and the new justice minister – Jewish Home’s Ayelet Shaked – is a strong supporter of curtailing the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down Knesset legislation that it deems unconstitutional. If such legislation passes, it will have an effect on issues of state and religion and on the treatment of asylum seekers, where the court has taken a stand in recent years, as opposed to the Palestinian issue, where most rulings are in line with the government and the IDF.

Closer attention should be paid to the relations between the Knesset, the government, and Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up more than 20 percent of the population. The coalition agreement includes a commitment by the government to implement the Prawer Plan, which aims to force most of the indigenous Palestinian-Bedouin population into a narrow territory in the north of the Negev – while making room for new housing projects, settlements and farms to be built for Jews. There has already been a rise in Palestinian home demolishes, especially in the south. The experience of the previous Knesset shows that some right-wing MKs will also try to undermine the Palestinians’ political representation or freedom of speech – as they did with the Nakba Law, or through the attempts to ban Arab legislators from running for parliament.

On those issues – the Palestinian minority, the Supreme Court, the opposition to the occupation – the government will enjoy the support of former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s six MKs, who are now in opposition, which means a de-facto solid 67-53 majority. Lieberman or some of his party members might also be tempted to join the coalition in the coming months, and make things way easier for Netanyahu. That’s another reason I don’t expect this government to fall so soon.

The cabinet itself will be very right-wing, as one might expect from such a coalition. There are a couple of troubling appointments which went largly under the radar: Yariv Levin, a talented and very radical MK from Likud – one of the party’s rising stars – will have the public security portfolio, in charge of the police. (The Shin Bet is under the charge of the Prime Minister’s Office.) Levin might adopt harsher policing policies vis-a-vis Palestinians in the south and East Jerusalem.

The new deputy defense ministry is Eli Ben Dahan, a radical rabbi from the Jewish Home party, who went on record lately calling the Palestinians “sub-human.” This will be the man in charge of the civil administration – the IDF agency that runs the lives of millions of Palestinians in the West Bank. Even retired army general Ilan Paz, a former commander of the civil administration, called this nomination “a terrible, unacceptable thing.” Brigadier General (ret.) Paz called on the current commander of the civil administration to resign.

Finally, one should note the two senior cabinet portfolios left unmanned (meaning that the prime minister is keeping them for himself): Media and communication and foreign affairs. The latter is clearly kept as bait for prospective coalition partners – be them  Liberman or Labor’s Isaac Herzog.  The Communication Ministry, on the other hand, will not be handed to anyone but rather kept closely by Netanyahu himself, so he can use its tremendous regulatory power against those seen by him as his political rivals in the media.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Ginger Eis

      BREAKING NEW!

      ‘Chlorine Gas is NOT a Chemical Weapon’!

      – President Barack Hussein Obama.

      http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/195456#.VVXUNLntmko

      Folks, The Free World is led by a buffoon. G-d help us and protect the People of Syria, especially the children and the women who are being led to the slaughter every day, every hour, every minute, while the Buffoon In Chief in the White House is runs around in circles confused and trying to figure out the difference between (a) Chlorine Gas and (b) Chemical weapon!

      The new Government in Jerusalem is the best possible Government Israel can have at this point in her history. Trust is Obama = Seal Of Death.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        What really bothers people like Caroline Glick about Obama is his intelligence. It infuriates them. They prefer ’em stupid and easily manipulated like Bush.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          Someone who thinks that ‘Chlorine Gas’ is not ‘Chemical weapon’ is not extremely intelligent. Unsurprisingly you are not even remotely outraged. Imaging Eli Ben Dahan or the Isreli DM said that. Oh well… never mind. Read more here:

          http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWchlorine.htm

          Reply to Comment
        • Dave

          Don’t read too much into Glicks motivations. She’s not that complex nor are her motives. She just doesn’t like n***ers, especially one sitting where a white guy should be. Word.

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            President Obama’s failures are monumental and speak for themselves and neither Caroline Glick nor Obama’s race has ANYTHING to do that. It is idiotic, insulting- and racist towards African American men and women many of whom have excelled in all fields of life and are proof that all men are equally gifted, to claim that any legitimate criticism of President Obama has to do with his race! When President Obama claimed that ‘Chlorine Gas is historically not considered Chemical Weapon’ he showed ignorance and silliness and Caroline Glick has nothing to do with that. I would like to debate President Obama’s failures with you. Let me start by just naming one out of many other Obama’s brazen failures:

            – During Obama’s presidency there has been a sharp rise in poverty level among ordinary Americans. More minority-groups, especially African Americans and Latinos, are unemployed and dependent on the government food-stamps and other hand-outs for survival (‘Brian Ben David T. Dekkers’ is one of them). During Obama’s Presidency the percentage of Americans dependent on food-stamps rose 80%!

            Lets debate this one first and after that we get to the others – one by one, step by step. This might help you in preparing your reply and the debate: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/7/obamas-rhetoric-on-fighting-poverty-doesnt-match-h/?page=all

            Btw. Ze’ev Sternhell disagrees with your post, lol…How in the world did Caroline Glick get to be responsible for Obama’s failures, Ze’ev Sternhell asks?

            Reply to Comment
          • Dave

            During Obama’s presidency there was a rise in poverty levels across the board, as a by product of the Great Recession, not his presidency. Listen dipstick, spare me the spirited defenses of Glick. You think anyone with two working optical nerves and a modicum of intelligence doubts that Glick and majority of Orthodox Jews are nothing but bigoted sacks of shit? Give it a rest, Dr. King, LOL. One other thing sweet cheeks. About The Washington Times. A newspaper started by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who in turn was financed by the Central Intelligence Agency. I use The Washington Times to line the bird cage. If you want to substantiate your kahanist right wing bullshit, try substantiating it with something other than someone else’s right wing bullshit. Vashtey?

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Try again, because you are not making sense and only produced a load of name-calling. You might want to copy and paste something from a Haaretz-pundit, e.g. from Ze’ev Sternhell or Amira Hass to compensate for your limitations. That would do – for now.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Jello

      The annoying thing is that the reforms of Moshe Kahlon will probably get stuck in the various internal fights within the government. Every coalition MK and party will want a piece of the reforms. It is very difficult to pass credible and cohesive reforms in such an environment and I think it is unlikely that the opposition will lend Kahlon a hand. Additionally Bennett and Ariel will likely try to repeatedly embarrass Bibi in relation to his hesitation to build settlements. They were not happy with the election results and could likely do better a second time around, although if they collapse the government their voters are not going to be happy. At the same time politics doesn’t always turn out the way politicians want and in any case the polls might lead them astray. Shamir’s government was collapsed by the right for his participation in Madrid even though nothing was likely to ever come out of those talks.

      Either one of these underlying fractures could lead to the collapse of the government. Also, Gilad Erdan and Gideon Saar might possibly make an appearance at some point to destabilize Bibi’s government from inside the Likud.

      It is going to be interesting to see what Yariv Levin and Ayelet Shaked cook up for the legislative agenda. You guys at 972mag should consider some belt-tightening steps.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Shamir never actually “participated” in Madrid. He did what all Israeli leaders except Rabin have done. Pretend and prevaricate. Nice little fascist touch at the end. If +972 is as lame as you and your buddies claim it is then why are you so afraid of it that you need a Shaked to persecute it? You’ve already told us the answer: “because what we do is none of your business.” The language of mobsters.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          And that’s why they killed Rabin.

          Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Yet another series of rambling mumbo jumbo from Brian Ben David T. Dekkers, lol. Not sure Jello will even dignify that with a response. No job yet, Brian? Oh dear…. Try “Obama-phone”. It is for unemployed Americans looking for jobs to start providing for themselves instead of depending on food-stamp provided by the US government. Here is information on where and how to obtain your own – assuming you are actually looking for a job, instead of irrationally fixating on- and obsessing with Jews 24/7. Here you can find all the info you need, Brian Ben David T. Dekkers, Lol…

            http://www.obamaphone.com/

            Reply to Comment
          • Weiss

            WTF does an “Obama-phone” have to do with the Palestinian issue ???

            It’s obvious you hate black people …You would fit right in Alabama.

            What does that say about your feelings towards Palestinians, & asylum seekers from Sudan , Eritria, and Ethiopian Jews who are black?

            You advocate treating them like-shit.

            George Wallace would be proud of you …

            THIS Jew will NOT be SILENT !!!!

            Reply to Comment
        • Jello

          Shamir went to Madrid and it cost him his position.

          972mag is pretty lame. It and other extreme left-wing and also rather lame organizations receive funding from foreign governments. This intervention by foreign governments in our domestic politics is fundamentally unethical, anti-democratic, and should be stopped or curtailed. And certainly, what we do in our country is none of your business and it is definitely not the business of your governments.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Fine. What our governments do in and in regards to occupied Palestine is none of your business. And you’ll have no objections when the US cancels $3B in annual funding of “your business.” Sounds good. We’re in agreement.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            If you are American and wish to lobby the US government against military aid to Israel that is entirely your right.

            Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        As the Fascist gleefully boasts about the Brown-Shirts destroying Israel from within, he fails to grasp the fact that Israel has already LOST the PR War…

        Meanwhile Satanyahoo’s re-election as the poster-boy of Israeli Apartheid and continued gross policy miscalculations in his zeal for total domination, is exponentially increasing the inevitability of the coming Palestinian State whether he likes it or not.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          Why do you recycle and regurgitate the same old nonsense over and over again on every thread on this? Is it really difficult to think, be creative and come up with something new and substantive? For someone of your advanced age, your posts are really childish and embarrassing.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Oh the irony. And the comedy. And the lack of insight. Grosskatze telling someone ELSE this. Priceless.

            Reply to Comment
          • BigCat

            Brian alias “Ben” alias “David T.” alias “Dekkers”, alias etc. ..Lol… see, Brian, right there is just ONE of the issues with you: you use multiple identities on this site which you sometimes use at the same time on the same thread, while sometimes posting and replying to yourself. That makes you a fraud and someone with serious psychological and emotional flaws/disorder, you psychotic moron. Maybe you can address that first, if you ever want to be taken seriously on this site. Begin by saying something like “Yes I am Brian, but I changed my penname to “Ben” and I will not use “David T.”, “Dekkers”, etc. again”. That would be a wonderful beginning, don’t you think?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Troll.

            Reply to Comment
        • Jello

          Oh you petulant whiny little bi!ch. You think this is a PR war? You are hilarious. Step away from the keyboard child.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Weiss is right. It’s not a PR war exactly, it’s a PR Protective Edge Op. The Netanyahu government fires tons of bloody bullsh*t one way and the truth gets buried under 250 mm BS mortars, 150 mm manipulation shells, and massive ordnance ‘Adelson’ penetrators. The tactical edge Netanyahu’s got is, as Twain is reputed to have said, “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” But the strategic edge is as Weiss says it is.

            Reply to Comment
          • Hello Ben,

            I stay out of internal comments because of all the sand flung about into eyes, but I’d like to say that the personal responses you are getting evidence a view that silence must control. You must be eliminated because you are speaking. Those using this gambit will try to get you to reply in kind, because this legitimizes their own tactics. The idea seems to be to get so must sand flying that there is nothing else to see. No real ideas at all. Then the one with the biggest bucket(s) wins.

            greg

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Thanks Greg! You could not be more right. I appreciate the gentle reminder that ANY response to these trolls plays into their game. It’s the core truth about them.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            This is a conflict over territory, not a reality show. A thousand “PR wars” isn’t going to make a difference either way.

            Reply to Comment
          • Weiss

            Grow the phuck-up…

            Hurling insults while hiding behind the keyboard is as cowardly as it gets.

            Time to face reality:

            Israel is an Apartheid State.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jello

            Ohhhhh. Are you feelings hurt you whiny little bi!ch?

            Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      In regards to the appointment of Eli Ben-Dahan to the civil administration, it is necessary to quote Ze’ev Sternhell:

      “In Israel, the religious factor strengthens the national singularity. It’s not a matter of belief, but of identity; religion bolsters your distinctive identity. It’s essential to understand that without this radical nationalism there is no fascism. I also distinguish between fascism and Nazism, because fascism does not necessarily carry a race doctrine. Let me put it in no uncertain terms: Fascism is a war against enlightenment and against universal values; Nazism was a war against the human race.”

      http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/.premium-1.610368?v=7B60DE6547A1792616257F8808841B08

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ab

      “…and all the Arab MKs broke into a spontaneous laugh…” What an understatement! 🙂

      Anyone can translate the back and forth of that altercation? A lot was said during those few minutes.

      How long can a cabinet portfolio remain unmanned? I am assuming there must be a time frame?

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        “Altercations” do not take place in the Israeli Knesset. Folks get removed from the Knesset-floor even before they come close to crossing the line.

        A portfolio will remain unmanned as long as is possible. How long? Depends on the circumstances of specific cases.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Ginger Eis

      “The new deputy defense ministry is Eli Ben Dahan, a radical rabbi from the Jewish Home party, which went on record lately calling Palestinians “sub-human”.

      Mr. Noam Sheizaf, a statement relayed devoid of the context in which it was made, can be misleading and in some case create a falsehood.

      Here is the CONTEXT:

      1. “Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion.” – Haj Amin al-Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem (Radio Berlin, March 1, 1944; quoted in Robert Wistrich, Muslim Anti-Semitism: A Clear and Present Danger[American Jewish Committee, 2002], p. 47).

      2. “We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. . . . We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem”. – Yasser Arafat.

      3. “Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations” – Yasser Arafat.

      4. “The PLO… has not changed its platform even one iota… the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine.” – Abbas Zaki, Palestinian Authority representative in Lebanon (NBN TV, April 9, 2008)

      5. Currently “Palestinians” are running Israelis over with cars and busses on the street, crushing them to death in broad day light. This is widely accepted within the Palestinians society as a form of “resistance” (hihi, hihi).

      And I can go on and on and on. Anyone who makes the same or similar statements as above, or shares the ideology and/or sentiments inherent in those statements or similar statements and/or actions is indeed “sub human”. That – is what MK Eli Ben Dahan was referring to.

      Wake up and face reality. Get out of your liberal ‘hear-no-evil-see no evil-speak-no-evil-do-no evil-harm-fantasy-land’! If you still don’t understand me, this might help a bit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTwzU6lRdQw

      (Re-post of original post from more than a day ago. Thank you +972mag for your super censure. But if you are going to smear Israeli Officials with inaccurate claims, you should at least allow rebuttal on the comment section. That’s not too much asked, is it?)

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Holy buckets! The man publicly states that (1) a whole class of people are subhuman, (2) the souls of all Jews are higher than those of Christians or Muslims or anybody else, and (3) “a Jew always has a much higher soul than a Goy, even if he is a homosexual.”

        And Noam stating that Ben-Dahan in fact said #(1) above is A SMEAR??!!

        Did you think through what you wrote for even a second? Trying to excuse the inexcusable, and trying to turn a perpetrator into a victim, is not a winning strategy. Honestly, this is a caricature of the “we are always victims” stance that ought to be a satire on Eretz Nehederet. “Poor Eli, the poor man, the victim of a smear when all he said was….”

        You have tried here to say that “the context” is the various statements and actions of Arafat and other extremists. But incontestably the true context (that which Ben-Dahan is truly referring to) is:
        A. #(1) and #(2) and #(3) above, taken together; and
        B. The man who publicly said #(1) as well as #(2) and #(3) is now going to be the chief civil administrator over a whole class of people he publicly deems subhuman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        And Noam was very obviously writing in the context of B.

        And to say it yet again, not a peep from the government and the people yet these same would be going absolutely bananas if a newly appointed European minister said the same about Jews and if he were a civil administrator over millions of Jewish human lives they would deem it an emergency.

        How the extreme right really thinks is one of the eye opening lessons of these comment forums.

        Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          a) I would rather be called “sub-human” than be ran-over with a bus and crushed to death. You, Brian, which one would you prefer?

          b) Who is the sub-human, the people who run innocent men women and children over with cars and busses crushing them to death or the person who calls the murderers and their supporters “sub-humans”?

          c) Christian theology says that Christian souls are better than the souls of non-Christian souls; Muslim theology says that Muslim souls are better than the souls of non-Muslim souls; a Rabbi says the same thing about the souls of Jews and you are going bonkers and start rambling another series of incoherent mumbo jumbo? What exactly is your problem Brian Ben David T. Dekkers?

          Reply to Comment
    6. Swedish Chef

      Can you believe this? Is is the 21st century people.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Average American

      Doesn’t matter Netanyahu government or the next one, Israel’s government will always pursue conquering The Land Of Israel exclusively for The Jews according to Zionism, a Jewish lebensraum, and will do whatever it takes.

      Reply to Comment
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