U.S. Jewish Groups Welcome New Israeli Government Helmed by Bennett and Lapid

Organizations highlight diversity of parties in new coalition, as swearing-in of new government brings end to 12 years of rule by Netanyahu

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington
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Naftali Bennett shakes hands with Yair Lapid at the Knesset, Sunday.
Naftali Bennett shakes hands with Yair Lapid at the Knesset, Sunday.Credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington

WASHINGTON – Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in America welcomed the new Israeli government helmed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, highlighting the hope they see in the diverse coalition.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington, said it "welcomes the new, diverse Israeli government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and look forward to further bolstering the bond between the U.S. and Israel."

The North American Reform Jewish Movement, the largest Jewish movement outside of Israel, expressed hope that the government will further a pluralistic agenda, combat extremism and incitement, and act as a government for all of Israel's citizens.

Americans for Peace Now said it was gratified to see Netanyahu's long rule ending, saying it provides Israel with a valuable opportunity to heal and address its challenges — the need to end the occupation, in particular.

J Street said Netanyahu's departure is cause for great relief, but the new coalition does not end the dangers posed by his right-wing movement and vision. J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami added that it has no reason to expect the new government will end the occupation, and that U.S. leaders need to make clear that Netanyahu's policies cannot continue and must challenge leaders who push peace further from reach.

Democratic Majority for Israel, the organization founded by senior Yair Lapid advisor and veteran pollster Mark Mellman that seeks to bolster support for Israel within the Democratic Party, highlighted how the unity government will be its most inclusive ever, noting the diversity of the parties and the presence of Arabs, women and Jews of color at senior-level positions.

New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch directly criticized former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's legacy, saying it "will echo in Israeli society even when he is gone." He noted the ideological diversity of the incoming coalition could help Israelis heal from last month's intercommunal violence "and reassert that Israel is a country that believes in and stands for the values of equality and justice."

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, one of Netanyahu's original backers who later turned harsh outspoken critic, said he was "delighted that these efforts have come to fruition and that this new government has been established." He added that he is certain that Bennett, Lapid and their colleagues in the new government will be equally committed to the unity of the Jewish people, both in Israel and across the globe, regardless of religious denomination.

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America and the American Jewish Congress also offered congratulations to the new coalition, each expressing hope that the new Israeli government will help strengthen ties between the U.S. and Israel.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations "applauded Israel's vibrant democracy" after the vote, congratulating Bennett and Lapid while saluting Netanyahu for his "immense legacy" of service to Israel and world Jewry.

The American Jewish Committee welcomed the coalition while praising Netanyahu's legacy. "We will gladly work with the new government, where appropriate, to help build on [Netanyahu's] remarkable achievements, as well as to strengthen the essential ties that bind the Jewish state and Jews around the world," AJC CEO David Harris said.

Israel Policy Forum wished the new government success and expressed confidence that it will work closely with the Biden administration and Congress, while noting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be ignored. "We urge the new government to work with the U.S. to advance freedom, security, and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians and to take steps in the direction of restoring a political horizon for a two-state outcome," it said.

Earlier this month, Democratic Majority for Israel's Mellman told Haaretz that “a government without Netanyahu will start out in a vastly better place with Democrats” in Washington.

Mellman explained that “Right or wrong, fair or unfair, Netanyahu has been strongly identified with the Republican Party — and in our hyper-polarized society, Israel has paid a high price for that on the Democratic side.” He added that “Lapid has spent considerable time with President Biden [before he became president] and they have an excellent relationship on which to build.”

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