July 28, 2021

In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu in the hot seat after the defection of one of his allies

For more than two months, Naftali Bennett procrastinated. Then on Sunday evening, May 30, in the Knesset, the far-right leader, with a tendency towards religious nationalism, announced that he was ready to join the opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu in trying to form a government of national unity.

If the coalition sees the light of day before Wednesday evening, the deadline set by law, Naftali Bennett, 49, will become Israel’s next prime minister. A feat for the leader of the small Yamina party, with only seven seats out of 120 in Parliament. It would thus put an end, temporarily at least, to the ambitions of Benyamin Netanyahu, at the head of the government for fifteen years, who clings to his seat to try to avoid his trial for corruption and fraud.

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Except that to overthrow his former mentor, Naftali Bennett, former representative of the Israeli settlers, allies himself with unnatural partners, in particular from the left and the center, led by Yaïr Lapid, former television presenter who became champion of the secular movement and last resort of the anti-Netanyahu.

This is what made him hesitate for a long time; two weeks ago, when Israel bombed Gaza and came under rocket fire from Hamas, which several towns in the country were plagued by violent clashes between Jews and Palestinians citizens of Israel, the ultranationalist leader had also thrown the sponge – too afraid of losing his identity as an uncompromising right-wing man who so pleases his constituents.

The “fraud of the century”

But on Sunday, a week after the ceasefire between the Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel, the call for power was strongest. It was “Either of the fifth elections [en un peu plus de deux ans], or a unity government ”, he tried to justify, before promising that this government “Will be a little more to the right than the current one”.

Wasted effort. A few minutes later, hundreds of demonstrators were already camping under the windows of his political partner, Ayelet Shaked, Yamina’s number two, crying treason. A slogan also taken up by Benyamin Netanyahu, who denounced the “Fraud of the century” led by his ex-protégé who “Think only of him”. “He tries to fool voters and bring voices to the left”, accused the head of government on Sunday evening, just after the announcement of his former defense minister. Within Yamina itself, one of the deputies has let go of the group: he will vote against the government of national unity, while refusing to resign.

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