On Sunday the Bennett-Lapid government, Israel’s 36th government, was sworn in. After more than 12 years in which Benjamin Netanyahu served as prime minister, his authority was transferred to the new prime minister, Naftali Bennett. This government also constitutes a breakthrough in its composition: Not only is it made up of both right-wing and left-wing parties, but for the first time an Arab party is a full partner in the governing coalition.
We must congratulate this government of change, and wish it success. Bennett’s conciliatory and statesmanlike address, that spoke of the hope inherent in the union between different types of people, was repeatedly and rudely interrupted by lawmakers with no respect, who humiliated the Knesset, the president, their political parties, their families, their voters and primarily themselves. They didn’t stop their offensive heckling even when Bennett acknowledged that “this is a sensitive political moment,” nor did they respond to his call, addressed to both sides, “to show restraint.”
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Bennett acknowledged that “there are a lot of disagreements” within the government that he formed with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, and with his partners on the right and left, Jews and Arabs; he committed to implement what they could agree on, “and what divides us, we will leave aside for now.” Aware of the division among the people on the one hand, and the gaps within his coalition on the other, Bennett set realistic goals for the new government. “The new government will seek real, practical solutions for the state’s problems. It seems that it’s been a long time since Israeli citizens had a government that simply worked, that comes to work.”
Indeed, that is what is required now: A government that works for the public. For this, one must first of all strengthen the civil service and restore its power, authority and responsibility. The first step on this path is the appointment of people to various positions in accordance with their talents, professionalism and suitability. No more appointing yes-men, based on personal loyalties and the correct political opinions.
But the general approach to public service must also change. In recent years Israel got used to living in a swamp of hatred and incessant incitement, led by an unbridled criminal defendant, who would repeatedly attack state bureaucracies, disparage the legal system and the police, incite against the attorney general and the media, and sic Israel’s four tribes against each other.
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Bennett and Lapid must heal the public discourse and restore confidence in the government and the state’s systems. The politics of incitement hasn’t stopped with the “end of the Netanyahu era,” as Bennett himself learned from the moment he decided to enlist in the change government, and as was demonstrated Sunday in the plenum. This incitement is illegitimate and dangerous. It’s important to firmly resist it and defend against it with the proper tools.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.