The government of change, which was established by forces in the left, the center and the right, Jews and Arabs, in order to extricate Israel from the political impasse created by Benjamin Netanyahu’s poisonous leadership, has reached the end of its road after one year in power. Israel is heading for its fifth general election within three years.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced Monday their decision to submit a bill to dissolve the Knesset next week and for Lapid to serve as caretaker prime minister, in accordance with their agreement.
In both style and content, Lapid’s and Bennett’s speeches distilled what is best about the government of change and served as a reminder, by way of contrast, of everything Israel left behind when Benjamin Netanyahu lost power and everything that threatens it should he regain it – a return to a politics and a public discourse of incitement, division, mudslinging, humiliation, intimidation, lies and manipulation; a return to assaults on the justice system, the police, the media and the opposition; a return to the persecution of human rights organizations and incitement against Arab citizens and their representatives in the Knesset.
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The very establishment of this government of change was an achievement. For a whole year, Israelis enjoyed a government that worked on their behalf, whose members cooperated with and respected each other even when they disagreed. The government of change will go down in history as an attempt to find the common denominators, the areas of agreement, that which unites us while trying to put aside the areas of disagreement. It’s not inconceivable that it was doomed to fail for this very reason, since Israel’s core problems aren’t the kind that can be put on ice. In the long term, it's impossible to ignore the occupation, the settlements, the tribalism, relations between religion and state, national tensions and the many disagreements among various segments of society over the country’s character and policies.
The government of change managed to remove Netanyahu’s grip from the country’s throat for a year and one week. But now that the Knesset is dissolving and an early election will be called, the danger of his return to the Prime Minister’s Office looms. Netanyahu is a criminal defendant, with no restraints, who paralyzed and crushed every state system in an attempt to evade justice and stay in power. He sought to appoint his own people in every institution, prevented the passage of the national budget and imposed on the state endless election cycles. Former Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who decided to indict him, once said that “Netanyahu endangered democracy; we were saved only by the grace of God.”
Therefore, what was true in all the previous elections will remain true in the election scheduled for October 25: The goal was and is to prevent Netanyahu’s return to power.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.