Challenges Facing Israel’s New Netanyahu Government – Part 1

After 5 failed or short-term elections since April 2019, and following 2 months of negotiations to form a government, Benjamin Netanyahu has succeeded in regaining premiership in Israel. However, the world, including Israel, is a much different place than it was back in 2019, so don’t expect the ride to be a smooth one for Netanyahu. Over the next 2-3 days, we will examine circumstances that point to rough waters ahead. Meanwhile, I’m thankful for a “less woke” administration taking over in Jerusalem. Let’s take a look at some of the challenges:

A Bit of Recent Election Background

In Israel, citizens vote for parties, not for candidates; and at stake are 120 seats in the Knesset (parliament). The percentage of votes garnered by each party is the percentage of seats that party will occupy in the Knesset. Because there are typically a dozen or more parties, no one party has ever gotten a majority (51% or more) of the votes. Therefore, the leader of the party with the most votes typically gets first shot at forming a coalition of parties that will reach majority and, thus, form the new government.

Elections in April and September 2019 both failed to result in a coalition, so Israel was without a functioning government. A third election was held in March 2020 when, again, no party leader was able to clinch a majority in coalition, so Netanyahu’s faction and Benny Gantz’s faction chose to form a “unity government,” though they opposed one another and were scheduled to share the Prime Minister’s seat. That lasted less than a year and the fourth election was held in March 2021. Known as the “anyone but Bibi” (Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname) election, the most diverse government in Israel’s history was cobbled together by parties ranging from ultra-liberal Arab parties to conservative parties whose leaders refused to sit in coalition with Netanyahu. With that, they managed the narrowest of margins (61-59), with two party leaders (Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid) agreeing to split time as Prime Minister. When two coalition members bolted, leaving the coalition with fewer than 60 seats, the government collapsed, sending Israel to their 5th election since April 2019.

By now, some in Israel had figured out that Benjamin Netanyahu was better than the “woke” Bennett-Lapid government who knelt at the feet of the Biden administration, and who did not have the chutzpah to stand tall on the world stage. Thus, Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-tenured Prime Minister, was re-elected.

Is the New Netanyahu Government a Pandora’s Box?

Much has changed since Netanyahu last held office. For one, he had to campaign to get ultra-Orthodox parties to grow their base in order to increase chances of gaining more seats. Known as a center-right politician, Netanyahu also had to span the breadth of social issues that are hard and fast issues to the radical right-wing orthodox. For example, Netanyahu appointed the first openly gay speaker of the Knesset, while also appointing an ultra-Orthodox Deputy Prime Minister who has been accused of being a “gay-hater.” How Benjamin Netanyahu manages these extremists remains to be seen, and some are wondering if Pandora’s Box has been opened.

Likewise, there are bitter attacks from leaders who were just ousted from power. Yair Lapid insists that the Netanyahu government is hell bent on passing “dangerous laws,” such as those protecting a business owner’s right to refuse to provide services that violate one’s conscience. (Example: forcing physicians to perform abortion.) It’s the same rationale we see in America! Despite the fact there are those who will provide services that some object to, if one objects to violating his conscience, he is racist or homophobic. Rules of the radical left demand that we tolerate, then accept, then celebrate, then participate in their agenda, or risk being labeled racist, homophobic, or any number of other social deficiencies.

Will “Democracy” be the Downfall of Both the US and Israel?

The term “threat to democracy” is thrown around like a ragdoll these days. Lapid said it of Netanyahu, and it is spewed from the lips of Democratic lawmakers in America every time they don’t get their way. There is an evil agenda afoot, and it is called “mystery Babylon” (New World Order in today’s vernacular.) Just as in America, conservative Israelis face the onslaught of accusations of being killers of democracy. Such accusations have already been leveled at Netanyahu from both within and outside Israel.

Speaking of democracies, Israel happens to be the ONLY democracy in the Middle East. For that reason and many more, the US and Israel would be wise to work together, joining forces to maintain the best interests of each. But instead, though infighting among different factions in Israel grows, so do taunts from the Biden administration. With Netanyahu now in power, the American administration, as well as American media, know that they no longer have a “yes man” sitting in the Prime Minister’s office…and they don’t like that.

In a recent New York Times editorial, American journalists jump on the Israeli liberal left’s bandstand to say, “Israel’s Democracy is at stake under the incoming (Netanyahu) administration.” Meanwhile, Biden officials indicate Washington has a new set of guidelines in which to deal with the new Israeli Prime Minister and his cabinet. Part of the Biden plan is not to engage particular ministry heads in Israel who do not hold similar views or positions as the corrupt American administration.

According to a Politico report, quoting unnamed U.S. officials, the Biden administration has a different strategy for how to deal with the incoming Israeli government and that is to hold Netanyahu responsible for all its actions.  That means that if Netanyahu’s more extreme ministers will push in one direction that he is personally not aligned with, Washington would consider him in charge, regardless. 

~All Israel News, Speculation Growing around Washington’s plans for engaging in new right-wing government in Israel, accessed 12/31/2022

“Threats to democracy,” as an ideal, is being thrown in the faces of both Americans and Israelis, and by both Americans and Israelis. While America’s model of government is technically a Constitutional Republic (not a democracy), there are democratic elements. In Israel it is even more magnified because they are a true democracy. I would love to be proven wrong, but I truly do believe we are seeing the destruction of two vibrant societies.

May God grant wisdom and courage to Benjamin Netanyahu as he faces these challenges and more in the coming years. Please take a moment to pray for him and the Israeli government. Then head back here tomorrow as we consider some additional details regarding the new Israeli government. It is all relevant to Bible prophecy, so see you then!

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