Benjamin Netanyahu’s firm right-wing majority coalition is unlikely to be taken down by a left-wing “resistance” (which some would call an attempted coup). It’s about the most homogenous government Israel’s ever had from a political and ideological perspective, with few chinks in its armor.
But it could fall apart from within.
And this will have everything to do with the disparate biblical viewpoints of the religious parties in the coalition’s ranks.
Ultra-Orthodox parties have reportedly asked Benny Gantz and his National Unity party to join Netanyahu’s coalition to provide “balance.”
What do they mean by “balance”?
This highlights an important phenomenon in Israeli politics:
Ultra-Orthodox parties are largely focused on their particular stream of Judaism and bolstering their particular religious community. So long as the government they’re a part of, and they’ll join either left- or right-wing governments, provides the money they request for their yeshivas and maintains the status quo of rabbinical oversight, they’ll be loyal coalition partners.
Religious Zionist parties have a more “prophetic” outlook. They’re on a mission. And many of their proposed policies are geared toward advancing the “redemption” of Israel as a whole. For this reason, the Religious Zionists are often referred to in Israeli media as “messianic” – and not in a complimentary way – because they are working toward the “messianic age.”
Ultra-Orthodox officials oppose this approach, believing that God alone will bring about the messianic age without human involvement. And so they are just as likely as the left to see Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir and the Religious Zionism party as radical extremists who have no place governing a modern Jewish state.
They’d rather align with progressive elements like Gantz who will give the ultra-Orthodox their little corner of the country, than partner with messianic-minded “fools” who think we are living in the end times, and are trying to enact government policy based on that belief.
It’s hidden behind the scenes, but this biblical rift is at the heart of the internal divisions that pose the biggest threat to the stability of Netanyahu’s government.
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