US lobby groups welcome broad coalition and worry about “motley” members’ effectiveness
Major US pressure groups have welcomed the announcement by Yesh Atid’s leader MP Yair Lapid on Wednesday evening that he had succeeded in forming a coalition government to potentially replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In particular, US groups hailed the fact that the coalition would include the Islamist Ra’am party, the first time an Arab party has joined an Israeli government.
But while American groups applauded the range of parties that the potential government comprises, they also expressed concern about how this might affect the actual functioning of a future government.
Although Lapid told President Reuven Rivlin that he had succeeded in getting a bloc of left, right and center parties, as well as Ra’am, to agree on the formation of a government, there are still many issues to be resolved before it can be resolved. ratified by the Knesset, as well as the possibility of defectors.
The powerful US Israel Public Affairs Committee praised Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett “for assembling a broad and diverse coalition – spanning the political spectrum of Zionist and Arab parties – to form an Israeli government in the meantime. the approval of the Knesset ”.
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The establishment of such a government after the recent conflict with Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip who fired thousands of rockets at Israeli towns “further demonstrates the resilience of Israel’s democracy and its commitment to democratic values “AIPAC said in a statement, apparently referring to the stalling of negotiations during the fighting last month.
“We look forward to further strengthening the ties between the United States and Israel as the two democracies work in close partnership to advance our common interests and values,” the statement said.
The Democratic majority for Israel called the announcement a “historic day.”
“We note with pride that this government is not only expansive, comprising parties representing the right, the left and the center of Israeli politics, it is also inclusive, with Arabs, women and Jews of color occupying key positions, ”DMI said in a statement.
“We commend Yair Lapid and his colleagues for achieving what many considered impossible: to bring together a wide range of Israeli political parties to form a new unity government,” DMI said, noting that “when this government is sworn in, Israel will be the only country in the Middle East where Jews and Arabs rule together.
DMI added that with the inclusion of the Ra’am party, “we are witnessing the start of a new chapter in Israel.”
Leftist pressure group J Street has celebrated that if Lapid succeeds in installing a new government, it will mean that “Netanyahu will finally be kicked out of the Prime Minister’s residence” after 12 years in power.
“Netanyahu’s fall from power is a cause of great relief,” the lobby group wrote.
But he predicted that “this motley coalition of left, center and right parties united mainly by their opposition to Netanyahu will probably find it difficult to agree on a political program.”
The group warned that the emerging government would initially be led by Bennett, who he said “always presented himself as an even tougher, pro-settlement, anti-Palestinian, right-wing alternative” to Netanyahu. .
On the other hand, the inclusion of Ra’am is “a notable and welcome step that could help further normalize Palestinian citizens of Israel playing a major role in politics,” the group said.
J Street called on US leaders to seize the opportunity offered by the Lapid coalition to “reset” relations with Israel and “urge the new government to follow a very different new path.”
Meanwhile, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, speaking to CNN, called Lapid’s bloc a “very strange coalition, people on the left, people on the right, people in the middle.”
Admitting that “I am not a big fan of Benjamin Netanyahu”, Sanders declared that he “would not mourn the departure of the Prime Minister”.
“I hope Israel has a government that we can work better with,” Sanders said.
Under the new coalition, Bennett will serve as prime minister until September 2023, when Lapid will succeed him until the end of the Knesset term in November 2025.
Despite Lapid’s statement, it is still not clear whether the future “change of government” will cross the finish line. It should include 61 of the 120 MPs – the narrowest possible majority. And Bennett’s Yamina MP Nir Orbach earlier Wednesday evening announced he could vote against the new coalition, a move that could potentially doom the future razor-thin government.
The final coalition agreements have not yet been officially released and negotiations are expected to continue until the swearing-in vote.
Lapid was tasked last month by Rivlin with forming a government, after Netanyahu got the first chance but failed to concoct a ruling majority. The March 23 elections, the fourth since April 2019, once again saw Netanyahu and his right-wing religious bloc miss a majority.
If the new government is sworn in, Israel will have a new prime minister for the first time since 2009. In addition to the 12 consecutive years as prime minister since then, Netanyahu also served as prime minister for three years in the late 1990s.
Israel has been in a political stalemate since the dissolution of the Knesset in December 2018, after the four rounds of elections held since then failed to secure a decisive majority for either Netanyahu or his rivals. In addition to fighting for his political survival, Netanyahu is currently on trial in three corruption cases.