On January 22, Israelis voted. Results hardened fascist rule. Dominant right-wing parties control 102 of 120 Knesset seats. Israelis have themselves to blame.
They elected their most extremist government in history. Belligerence, state-sponsored terrorism, militarized occupation, racist persecution, settlement expansions, and neoliberal harshness reflect official policy.
No party won a majority. Weeks of negotiations followed. Expect coalition partners to be announced shortly.
Netanyahu remains Prime Minister. He'll serve as Foreign Minister. He'll do so pending the outcome of Avigdor Lieberman's trial. He's charged with fraud and breach of trust. Ze'ev Elkin appears set to become Deputy Foreign Minister.
Netanyahu presides over 22 ministers. Eight deputy ones join them. They represent Israel's smallest government in decades.
Coalition partners include Netanyahu's Likud/Yisrael Beteinu, Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, and Naftali Bennett's Habayit Yayehudi. Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah had token participation. Together they won 67 of 120 Knesset seats.
They reflect hardline extremism. They're ideologically over the top. They represent what demands condemnation.
Netanyahu's a world class thug. He spurns rule of law principles. He abhors democratic values. He prioritizes stealing all valued Palestinian land. He deplores peace. He calls pursuing it a waste of time.
Habayit Hayehudi's slogan is "Something new is beginning." It reflects extremist Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu's ideology. Other hardline secular and religious parties hold similar views.
Bennett's militantly hardline. He's anti-democratic. He deplores progressive activism. He wants non-Jews excluded from Israel.
He says Palestinians don't exist. He's against employers hiring "foreigners." He calls them "infiltrators," a "time bomb."
Lapid's more showman than politician. He's more con man than legitimate. He's shallow and disingenuous. He ducks tough questions.
He's more image and mirage than real. Haaretz calls him a "notorious wannabe, ignorant and callous." He's a ne-er-do-well. He misstates facts. He combines showmanship, bravado and kitsch.
Expect Likud/Yisrael Beteinu to receive eight portfolios. Moshe Ya'alom replaces Ehud Barak as Defense Minister. Yisrael Katz remains Transport Minister.
Gideon Sa'ar moves from Education to Interior. Gilad Erdan becomes Communications Minister. He'll also serve as Homefront Security Minister.
Limor Livnat remains Culture and Sport Minister. Yuval Steinitz becomes Strategic Affairs Minister. Silvan Shalom looks likely to be Energy and Water Minister. Expect Likud's Tzachi Hanegbi or Yuli Edelstein to be named Knesset Chairman.
Yesh Atid gets five portfolios. Yair Lapid becomes Finance Minister. He's more showman than monetary and fiscal affairs expert. How he'll manage remains to be seen.
At the same time, Bennett's Habayit Yayehudi chairs the influential Finance Committee. Nissan Slomiansky and Ayelet Shaked will rotate as chairman.
According to Haaretz, Lapid may regret becoming Finance Minister. He "foresees a dark future for himself in the" position.
"He's afraid of becoming" Israel's most hated man. He's responsible for administering budget cuts. He's concerned about possible demonstrations outside his home. He fears going from matinee idol to public enemy. "The weight of the world is on his shoulders."
Shai Piron becomes Education Minister. Yael German is new Health Minister. Meir Cohen will be named Welfare Minister. Ya'akov Peri becomes Science Minister.
Ofer Shelach's expected to become Deputy Defense Minister. Yesh Atid gets an additional deputy position in a ministry to be named later.
Bayit Yehudi gets five portfolios. Naftali Bennett becomes Economics and Commerce Minister. It's the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's new name. He'll also be Religious Affairs Minister and Minister for Diaspora and Jerusalem Affairs.
Uri Ariel gets two posts: Housing Minister and Israeli Lands Administration director.
Ariel Sharon once served as Construction and Housing Minister. At the time, he was called "the Bulldozer." It was for good reason. He ruthlessly destroyed Palestinian homes.
He did that and much more. He was a war criminal multiple times over. High crimes elevated him to Prime Minister.
Uri Orbach becomes Elderly Affairs Minister. Eli Ben Dahan is Deputy Religious Affairs Minister.
Hatnuah's Tzipi Livni becomes Justice Minister. Amir Peretz is Environment Minister.
On March 14, Haaretz headlined "Israel's new coalition: a winner's alliance, a loser's grudge."
Israel's new government isn't what Netanyahu wanted. Lapid's unfit to become finance minister. He's unqualified for any government post. Netanyahu belongs in prison, not government.
Israel's new coalition is its worst in history. Netanyahu and Lapid feel "mutual resentment." How they'll govern remains to be seen.
According to Haaretz, if Netanyahu hadn't kept Bennett at arm's length during negotiations, he could have formed his preferred coalition. He wanted ultra-Orthodox Shas or United Torah Judaism in it.
His "emotional response pushed Bennett into Lapid's arms." Their alliance began tactically. They're now allies. Together they hold 30 Knesset seats. Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu has 31.
Haaretz says "settlers will rise in power in Israel's new government." They and their supporters hold key government positions. Expanding what should be dismantled will be prioritized.
Netanyahu's committed to build, build, build. Bennett believes Palestinians don't exist. He claims lawless settlements are legal. Lapid's comfortable with expanding them. Generous funding assures doing so. More international isolation may follow.
Gideon Levy discussed Israel's new government. Troika power rules. Livni's Hatnuah has token participation.
They represent Israel's "version of the pop band The Pretenders, this frighteningly homogenous triumvirate that will lead us to war or to peace, to wealth or to poverty, to health or to sickness, to justice or iniquity, and the Israeli peanut gallery is already bursting with applause."
Netanyahu's the worst of the lot. He calls international law "anti-Semitic and democratically treacherous." He represents "old politics."
Lapid and Bennett are newcomers. They're both up to no good. Lapid "tied his fate (to) dark, religious nationalism."
Bennett wants unlimited settlement expansions. He "doesn't recognize the word occupation." He wants all valued West Bank land annexed.
"He preaches brotherhood but excludes Arabs." He and Lapid ignore their existence. Leading Knesset members are self-serving. Furthering their own careers matters most.
No one's sure how Israel's new government will handle vitally important issues. They include "peace, war, Iran, the budget, education (and) health."
Troika power represents Ashkenazi Jews. It includes few women. It excludes ultra-Orthodox Haredim and Arabs.
Palestinian issues don't matter. African immigrant rights won't be considered. What's ahead raises concerns. Few notice or care. The Middle East's on the boil. Dark days lie ahead.
A Final Comment
Haaretz reports a "last minute hitch." What’s next bears watching. Plans are to swear in Israel’s new government Monday. As of now, it'll have no deputy prime ministers.
Habayit Hayehudi said Netanyahu’s last minute decision against appointing one scuttles an agreed on arrangement.
Last minute hitches aren’t uncommon. Expect this one to be resolved.
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|