New Israeli Government Sworn Into Office

On June 13th, 2021, the Israeli Knesset approved the formation of a new rotation government to be led by a massive political coalition. The coalition, dominated by the right-wing Yamina coalition and the secular-centrist Yesh Atid party, includes elements from nearly every corner of Israeli political culture, such as the social democratic parties of Meretz and Labor, and the socially conservative Arab Ra’am party. Per the terms of the coalition agreement, the post of Prime Minister will rotate between Naftali Bennett, representing the Israeli right-wing, and Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party claims to represent “the interests of the [secular] middle class,” or what the party considers to be the mainstream of Israeli civil society, according to the party platform.

The inclusion of Ra’am in the coalition is seemingly significant as no Arab political party has ever been included in an Israeli government coalition. However, Ra’am has only been given one seat in the new government with leader Mansour Abbas serving as the Deputy Minister for Arab Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office. Under this position, Abbas will be working directly under the Prime Minister, and is thus likely to have limited influence in terms of wider Israeli policy.

Despite the successful formation of a new government, the coalition remains in a precarious position having been voted into office by a razor thin majority of 60 votes in the 120-member Knesset. 59 members voted against the confirmation of the government while Ra’am MK Said al-Harumi abstained.

Now Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu faces an uncertain future as he is currently on trial for charges of breach of trust, bribery and fraud. In his final speech as Prime Minister, he criticized U.S. President Joe Biden, comparing “Biden’s Iran policy to the refusal of the U.S. to bomb the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944,” according to Axios.

While this election certainly marks a turning point in recent Israeli political history, little is likely to change in terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations with now Prime Minister Bennett on record as stating “I will do everything in my power to make sure they never get a state.” Although Netanyahu is out of power, the politics which have shaped both his administration and recent Israeli history remain prevalent.