Opinion |

A Totally Right-wing Government

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Yair Lapid in 2017 and Naftali Bennett in 2018.
Yair Lapid in 2017 and Naftali Bennett in 2018.Credit: Jack Guez / AFP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

If the Bennett-Lapid government is formed, it will be one of the more right-wing governments in Israel’s history. It’s been called a left-wing government or a government for change, a unity government or the government that will be our salvation, but it will be a fully right-wing government. In the battle between right-wing government A and right-wing government B, apparently option B has won. See for yourselves – indeed, a historic change.

Those setting the tone will be Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman – all hard right, racist and cruel. The alternate prime minister will be Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, of the moderate right wing, which is what we call the center around here.

The two left-wing parties, Labor and Meretz, are marginal; they’ll have no choice but to line up on the right. Unity in Israel always means aligning right. The threats of Likud and Religious Zionism, that Labor lawmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana and the United Arab List will thwart an operation in Gaza is so amusing it brings us to tears. There has never been a violent military action in Israel that hasn’t received almost wall-to-wall support. A clear majority for bombing Gaza or Lebanon will be found in the Knesset. In this government there will certainly be no one to stop it.

This will be a government almost entirely composed of those who support the continued occupation and apartheid – whether enthusiastically, with a tsk-tsk or in denial. This will be a government that blindly worships the IDF, like all its predecessors. In this matter there is no difference between Bennett, Lapid and Kahol Lavan chairman Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Labor chairwoman Merav Michaeli, who defined herself as a Rabinist, will be unable to oppose the army. When soldiers execute a psychologically unstable old woman, the members of this government will back the moral heroes of the army and nothing will change in their brutish behavior in the territories.

There is also a danger that this government of all governments might jump at the chance to do battle: Its leaders will want to prove that they are not leftists. Bennett has been preaching for a long time for another bloody invasion of Gaza. Lieberman and Sa’ar will be warmongers, Meretz chairman Nitzan Horowitz and perhaps Michaeli (and her party colleague lawmaker Omer Bar-Lev?) will protest. See how Labor and Meretz are being ignored in the coalition negotiations – they are the little children sent to their room until their parents finish talking about serious things. That’s how it will be in the government. Don’t hold it against them: The left-wing parties don’t have the option of thwarting a government that is being built on the desire to boot out Netanyahu.

Those who support the government in the making are trying to market it as a “government of experts.” Yossi Verter reported in Friday’s Haaretz that sources in Bennett’s orbit say that this will be “a government of men and women of good will, who in the first 12 or 18 months of its existence will not allow the word ‘ideology’ to slip through its gates…the infrastructure minister will take care of infrastructure.” That sounds good, suitable for Switzerland. Ideology might stay outside the gates there, but the riots on the Temple Mount will storm those gates, even a government of infrastructure and experts, and with them, will come the endless closure of Gaza, the continued assaults on Iranian ships, the International Criminal Court, the question of vaccinations for Palestinians and endless other urgent subjects that are the real infrastructure of the state. None of those problems can be solved with “ideology outside the gates.”

What exactly will Michaeli and Horowitz do with a government that expels asylum seekers, as Sa’ar dreams of doing? Will it promote the death sentence for terrorists, as Lieberman would like? A government of experts? A left-wing government? The settlers challenge it every day with the establishment of a new wildcat outpost. Will Bennett remove it? Sa’ar? Lieberman? Neither will Gantz. And what will the partners on the left do then? What can they do? They’ll present a question from the floor of the Knesset.

This government will be born in sin: The sin of false unity based only on the burning desire to remove Netanyahu. It will not be a left-wing government, not even a centrist government. It will be a full right-wing government all the way.

No one has forgiven the left and center for joining successive Netanyahu governments. Joining this government is considered a rescue operation, the ushering in of redemption, the dawn of a new day, accompanied by the sounds of cheering crowds of protesters near the prime minister’s Balfour Street residence, who will not cease to be amazed at the pleasant ways of Gilat Bennett and Lihi Lapid.

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