Editorial of the “World”. For the last chaos he orchestrated in the Knesset, Sunday, June 13, Benjamin Netanyahu showed more finesse than his “friend” Donald Trump before him in Washington. He intends to remain the leader of the opposition in the Israeli Parliament. It cannot trample on the rule of law. But his logic is the same: he discredits the democratic transition and, already, the action of his successors.
Mr. Netanyahu resolves to leave the power he has exercised without interruption since 2009, and for fifteen years if we count his first term (1996-1999). This is more than any leader of a Western democracy except German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He left a lasting mark on Israel. He can rightly congratulate himself on the economic and geopolitical influence of a small country of nine million inhabitants, on a feeling of security instilled in Israeli society.
Above all else, he also wrote the first lines of the manual of what are now called “illiberal democracies”: concentration of power in the hands of a leader, reign of an electoral majority in defiance of the other components. of society, weakening of the judiciary, attacks on the media and human rights organizations.
Over the past two years, this drift has accelerated with the opening of Mr. Netanyahu’s corruption trial. The Prime Minister failed to regain his lost majority over four legislative elections, from April 2019 to March 2021. He was content to jump from one ballot to another, without succeeding in getting a budget voted, leaving create a dangerous power vacuum, prolonging the worst political crisis in Israel’s history.
This does not end with the arrival of a new government. Mr. Netanyahu promises to lead the opposition vigorously. He will do anything to paralyze his rivals – provided that his trial, which he now faces as a simple litigant, leaves him the possibility of doing so, and that his party, the Likud, remains loyal to him.
This new government is led by Naftali Bennett, a former rival and admirer of Mr. Netanyahu within the radical religious right. This is no shock to the “Jewish and Democratic State”, founded in 1948 by secular socialist David Ben-Gurion, where Mr. Bennett has long been normalized. The alliance of eight parties of which he is the head extends to the center, to the left, and for the first time to an Islamic-conservative Arab formation. It is fragile. Nothing says she survives more than a few months. Even less until 2023, when its architect, the centrist Yaïr Lapid, must take charge.
The Palestinians can only promise themselves a few economic gains, in return for continued colonization and the maintenance of Israeli military control in force since the 1967 conquest, which Palestinian youth denounced in an unprecedented nationalist surge in May. Hamas rushed into it by launching a new war, the fourth in Gaza since 2008.
In Israel itself, no one is waiting for this government to upset the relationship between the state and the religious sphere. It will be difficult for him to question the zone of autonomy, even lawlessness, granted to ultra-Orthodox leaders. Despite its contradictions, despite the exclusion of Israel’s largest party, the Likud, this coalition is nevertheless representative of a divided country, which seeks a form of internal appeasement.