by Robin Benson
What Israel’s left-leaning politicians and media did not want, and campaigned so hard to prevent – cheered on by the Biden administration, the EU and their anti-Zionist collaborators – has happened.
Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, the Likud Party, and their right-wing allies in the Shas, United Torah Judaism, and the Religious Zionist parties, have a large enough majority in the Knesset to form a new coalition government. Bibi returns from being Opposition leader for a second time, and will be Prime Minister for a third time in his long political career.
His coalition partners are all strong leaders with their own agendas
Netanyahu’s first challenge will be to form a coalition before 14 December (or 28 December at the very latest with a negotiating extension of two weeks). He says he wants it done before the end of November, but he has politicians in his own party, plus those in the three parties allied with him to please – and to reward for their allegiance. His coalition partners are all strong leaders with their own agendas; some overlap, and some do not. We shall see.
If and when the new coalition is in place, the challenges awaiting them are many and varied, to say the least. Here are just a few:
1. Bibi and Biden
The hostile Biden administration in Washington DC has already voiced its “concerns” about Israel’s apparent lurch to the political right, and some senior officials have even said they will not work with certain members of the new coalition. With “friends” like these…
2. Terrorism at home
There is the ongoing terrorism threat emanating from Judea and Samaria, where young Arab/Muslim men – incited to extreme violence by the terrorist Palestinian Authority, and numerous other Islamist terror groups – have been attacking Israeli security personnel and civilians at every turn.
There are calls for a much stronger response from Israel’s security forces to these attacks. But that inevitably will lead to fierce condemnation for all quarters who could not care less about more dead Jews.
3. Cancelling maritime pact could provoke Hezbollah
Then there is the recent maritime border agreement between Israel and the USA, and Lebanon and the USA. This weird arrangement is because Lebanon still does not recognise Israel’s existence. It is alleged that Israel’s signing of this was illegal because it was not presented to and endorsed by the Knesset.
During election campaigning, Bibi declared he would nullify the agreement. That would have serious political and diplomatic implications, not least because the USA is the guarantor for both sides.
So, will Bibi do this and risk the security problems of a possible open conflict with Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist regime that effectively governs Lebanon?
4. Supporting Ukraine provokes Putin
Israel is also under mounting international pressure to give full military support to Ukraine in its war with Russia. Humanitarian aid shipments are apparently not enough.
But this is a complex political and diplomatic situation, whose ripples touch on Israel’s relationship with Russia itself. This is partly because Russia, while it is still to some degree propping up the Assad regime in Syria, it has also been turning a blind eye to Israel’s repeated attacks on Iranian bases and weapons supply chains in Syria.
So, falling out with President Putin would certainly affect Israel’s ability to effectively hamper Iranian military threats: particularly from Syria, but also from Iran’s proxies in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, the Gaza Strip, and more recently from Judea and Samaria. However, such a breach in Israeli-Russian relationships might also jeopardise the safety of the considerable number of Jewish people still living in both Russia and Russian-occupied Ukraine.
5. Threat from Iran’s mullahcracy
And then there is the Iranian regime itself. Although the mullahcracy seems to be fighting for its existence internally, its nuclear threat is still real. It could also do huge harm with its hundreds of ballistic missiles and thousands of unmanned aerial and precision-guided munitions.
There is more that could be added to this list of major hurdles that a new Israeli government needs to surmount. It will take the “wisdom of Solomon”, given by the God of Israel, to enable Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet to tackle any one of these, never mind all of them.
Is he up to that challenge? He maintains he is, but time will tell.