in Israel, the compromise has lived

in Israel, the compromise has lived

HASfter a short year of existence, the Israeli government has scuttled itself. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Monday June 20 his intention to dissolve Parliament before the end of the month. The Knesset began this process on Wednesday. The centrist Yaïr Lapid must assume the interim, until elections scheduled for the fall. Thus ends an unprecedented experience which brought together eight parties ranging from the extreme right to the left, while integrating an Arab formation for the first time.

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This coalition can be credited with having appeased, for a time, a country worn down by a deep political crisis, which has already given rise to four elections since 2019 – a world record. United by the same desire to dismiss former Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, after fifteen years of reign, it has produced an alternative to the flight to the extremes in which Israel is sinking. It put an end to the blows brought by Mr. Netanyahu to the institutions, starting with justice, while he faces a trial for corruption. She calmed a divided society by practicing the art of compromise.

However, this desire for normality is reaching its limit. The coalition born of a tiny majority (61 deputies out of 120), crumbled in the face of a resurgence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which it had tried to ignore. A wave of terrorist attacks carried out by isolated Palestinians has killed 18 people in Israel since March. The repression in the West Bank resulted in the death of twenty-five Palestinians and nearly 2,500 injuries. Police violence in Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan, which culminated in the funeral of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, probably killed by the army during a raid in the West Bank, completed the ruin of this spirit of appeasement that the coalition was struggling to maintain.

Two dangerous paths

Its instigators failed to unite their troops for what they hoped would be a routine vote. They were unable to renew a series of emergency laws, which perpetuate a regime described as apartheid by a growing number of human rights organizations, reserving Israeli rights to some 450,000 settlers – out of East Jerusalem – and subjecting the Palestinians to military occupation.

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Since the 1967 conquest, both the left and the right have passed these laws every five years, arguing that they were temporary. Mr. Bennett and his partners, for their part, did not even pretend to seek a way out of the conflict. They theorized its erasure and let the state machine increase its control over the lives of the Palestinians and develop the territories for the benefit of the settlers.

They have learned the hard way that Israel cannot both endlessly perpetuate the occupation of the Palestinian territories and claim a normal political life within its borders. On the contrary, this state of affairs benefits those who feed on the country’s divisions. The polls currently credit ten seats in Parliament to the Jewish supremacists whom Mr. Netanyahu brought together in 2021 within the old religious Zionist Party. These heirs of a Jewish terrorist nebula, long infrequent, would thus become the third party of Israel.

Two paths are now open, equally dangerous. It is not certain that a fifth ballot in less than four years will draw a clear majority in the fall. Before that, Mr. Netanyahu can try to gather a majority, which would bring him back to business without risking an election. But it is difficult to imagine that he brings the country a remedy, after having alone played a considerable role in the weakening of the rule of law.

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