Unrest In The Holy Land

The following opinion editorial is written from the perspective of an Israeli citizen and is set in May 2021. According to a survey by the Israeli Voice Index published by the Israel Democracy Institute in April 2021, 70% of Israelis believed that the country was headed for its fifth election since 2019. With Israel’s longest-serving prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu being unable to patch together a coalition, Israel was in a political crisis.


Israel, in the last two years, has been plunged into an abyss of political limbo. The hope for a government at the end of Netanyahu's 28-day deadline was but in vain, and the light at the end of the tunnel seems a lot more distant than one would comprehend.

Once adored by right-wing religious messianic adherents, Netanyahu's promise of annexing Judea and Samaria crumbles in the eyes of his supporters. Simultaneously, the dovish left-wing seculars view him as an enemy of the two-state solution. Under these circumstances, Netanyahu and his Likud party fell eight seats short of ascertaining a majority in the Knesset- the fourth inconclusive election Israel has witnessed in the past two years.

Netanyahu's failure to cobble up a coalition essentially left President Rivlin with two alternatives- to either give another member of the Knesset a shot at substantiating a partnership or entrusting the job to the entire Knesset. Much to everyone's astonishment, he pursued the former, presenting Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party with an opportunity to patch up a coalition.

I can confidently assert that Israel isn't very confident in Lapid's abilities, and negotiations to construct a new coalition are bound to break down. You see, the hurdle Lapid has to traverse is that of fashioning an eclectic alliance out of parties that stretch across the political and religious spectrum- something near impracticable. Naftali Bennett, leader of the far-right Yamina party, promised his party's allegiance to Lapid, which could potentially tilt the scale in favor of this "unity coalition." The forging of this partnership naturally came as a blow to Netanyahu, not only because Bennett was an erstwhile ally who served under him but also because Yamina's seven seats in Parliament let him play kingmaker.

However, one can't turn a blind eye to how diametrically opposite the ideologies of these two parties are. Where Yamina literally translates to "the right" and flagrantly espouses annexing 60% of the West Bank, Yesh Atid is a noted proponent of the two-state solution. One can very definitively say that the prospective coalition's members have very little in common, except for their shared ambition of dislodging Netanyahu from his seat of power.

One could also see Netanyahu desperately trying to stitch together an alliance that would not only protect his prime ministership but also safeguard his legal fate as he awaits three impending trials on charges of corruption. He attempted to bring under his umbrella the successors of Meir Kahane- an overtly racist, anti-Arab member of the Knesset in the 80s- a move that batted many an eye. When Kahane spoke in the Knesset, representatives of the Likud would orchestrate an exit; today, we see them extending arms in friendship. This indeed is shameful for Israeli democracy, for today, it stands trivialized as a system indebted to the fate of one individual.

The fatigue that courses through the veins of my country's voters is now palpable, with the prospect of a fifth election hovering in clear sight. It's not just the hassle of casting a vote every time, but the sickening atmosphere of regression that grows stronger with every passing day. The State operates without a budget - subsisting on a twelfth of the 2019 budget every month. Without a budget, it has become impossible to materialize big projects. For example, the Israeli Defense Forces find themselves unable to make structural changes within the organization. Significant reforms haven't been made in public sectors like education, and the nation is at a cessation. We may be celebrated the world over for our successful vaccination campaign, but the fluster in which we opened up could have been avoided had there existed some discernible political stability.

The situation across the Arab world too, demands that a popular, decisive, and empowered government is at the helm at the earliest. The enemy may well take this as an opportunity and be at our gates as we play political musical chairs at the Knesset. In the United States, oddly, the new captain at the helm appears a little cold to Israel as compared to his predecessor. Both of these are issues of vital implications for the country and can only be addressed by a government with a mandate and a full term in its hand.


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