The World Today for July 20, 2021



Holding On Tight

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is a far-right leader who cobbled together opposition parties from across his country’s broad political spectrum, including an Islamist party, in order to replace Benjamin Netanyahu.

The deal could bring an end to Israel’s incredibly unstable political system – four snap elections since 2019 and Netanyahu facing corruption charges in court amid fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, the Guardian explained.

“Israel’s most diverse coalition ever reaffirms the Middle East’s ‘miracle’ democracy,” was the headline of a Los Angeles Times op-ed written by Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the US.

Bennett demonstrated his bona fides on national security soon after assuming power, ordering attacks on Hamas positions after the militants sent balloons with incendiary devices into Israeli territory, the New York Times reported.

But there are already cracks in the coalition.

The coalition couldn’t muster sufficient votes to extend a law that bars Palestinians married to Israelis from becoming citizens, CNN wrote. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party, which supported extending the law, voted against it to hurt Bennett’s administration. The Islamist Ra’am Party split its votes, preventing a majority. The legislation usually passes annually without much notice.

The law’s supporters believe it helps Israel’s Jewish population retain their majority status. Critics say the law is “a cruel and racist measure,” National Public Radio added.

This dispute is only the beginning.

Coalition leaders recently asked Israel’s supreme court to decide on a law that bans same-sex couples from becoming parents through surrogates, the Washington Post reported. The court had given lawmakers a year to amend the law but officials said they didn’t expect to come to an agreement on new legislation because the parties in the coalition simply don’t agree on the issue.

For example, some of the coalition members celebrated the court’s subsequent decision to permit surrogacy for same-sex parents. Others disagreed with the court.

Recently, the Ra’am Party also announced that they would boycott votes in parliament if Bennett didn’t respect their views, Prensa Latina wrote. Soon after the announcement, the government announced that the Authority for Development and Settlement of the Bedouin in the Negev would move from the Economy Ministry to the Welfare Ministry – a move Ra’am had been seeking, according to the Times of Israel.

Another government decision, meanwhile, to slash daycare subsidies for ultra-Orthodox Israelis has angered other members of the coalition.

The government might seem precarious but everyone in it has many reasons to want to keep it together and Netanyahu out of power, Foreign Policy magazine said.

That theory is likely to be put to the test, sooner rather than later.

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