The exit of Naftali Bennett from prime ministership in Israel might only mean that Netanhayu Benjamin, former PM and now Opposition leader, will fancy his chances once again of staging a comeback. In fact, he had already moved into election mode within hours of the news of the collapse of the coalition and long before poll dates were to be fixed after an unprecedented diverse coalition cracked up in Israel.
Foreign minister Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party is to be caretaker PM when Israel goes to the polls for the fifth time in four years. He will also be PM when US President Joe Biden visits next month. His position may seem weak when he represents Israel but there is a commonality of security interests and the anxieties of a permanent existential crisis binding that country together which would mean his power and influence is not to be discounted.
An ideological clash in an ethnically and religiously diverse government — with eight radically different partners including a left leaning Arab party — regarding a law to renew a two-tier legal system in the West Bank that differentiates between Jewish settlers from Israel and Palestinians led to Mr Bennett’s rule becoming the shortest of any Israeli PM.
Mr Bennett was, however, convinced the experiment with such a coalition built to deny the political right was a success because ideological disagreements were temporarily set aside for the government to focus on “better education, better jobs, better infrastructure.” The government even passed a Budget that could not muster support in the legislature for three years.
It is interesting that while half of Israel may be likely to plump for Mr Netanhayu, whose coalition governments led by his Likud party invariably proved more durable despite his not delivering on commitments made while cobbling them together, the other half chastises him for corrupting the office of PM even as an ongoing trial and a prospective conviction hang on him like a Damocles sword.
Whoever might lead the next government, it is unlikely that Israel’s firm “no” to a Palestine state and the definition of Iran as enemy state no. 1 will change.