Protest leader says he’s now open to Netanyahu-led unity government

But after years of shouting down Netanyahu as a “fascist” and a “dictator,” it might be too late to now seek unity with him.

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: Benjamin Netanyahu
Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu the last time they sat together in a unity coalition in 2020. Photo by Tal Shahar/POOL
Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu the last time they sat together in a unity coalition in 2020. Photo by Tal Shahar/POOL

A year ago it was unthinkable. The electoral campaigns of every major center and left-wing party was aimed at defeating Benjamin Netanyahu and keeping him out of the prime minister’s chair.

So when those parties lost the last election, they promptly refused to even consider joining Netanyahu’s new coalition. Some on the left are now starting to think that was a mistake.

Anti-government protest leader Eran Schwartz acknowledged in an interview with Ynet Live today that the center-left parties might need to climb down from their “Just Not Bibi” tree and form a national unity government with Netanyahu in order to “save Israel.”

It’s a simple matter of fact that the right is stronger in Knesset and among the Israeli electorate, and that’s unlikely to change. And while many on the right don’t like Netanyahu, enough still do that his Likud party will remain on top or near it for the foreseeable future. Any government that doesn’t include Netanyahu’s Likud probably won’t last a full term (as we saw with the recent “government of change”).

Given this reality, Ynet wondered if the protest leaders would now be open to the center-left parties of Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz joining a national unity government with Netanyahu, both to push out the ultra-Orthodox and far-right nationalist parties and to gain some parity with Likud.

“If you come in with 30+ seats, instead of just 7, then you are on equal footing with Likud,” noted the Ynet anchor.

Schwartz stressed that he was speaking only for himself and not the entire protest movement (many of whom insist Netanyahu himself is the problem and must be overthrown), but said that he would be “willing to pay that price,” by which he means the “price” of prolonging Bibi’s rule.

Many suggest that Netanyahu would prefer such an alignment, that working with the center-left parties is for him preferable to trying to please and moderate the ultra-Orthodox and right-wing nationalist factions.

And Netanyahu was open to and tried to form a government with the center-left parties, but they refused to sit with him.

There’s no getting around the fact that a plurality of Israeli voters want Netanyahu as their prime minister, and that his Likud party will always be one of the biggest, and usually the biggest faction in Knesset.

So if he presumably prefers to sit with the center-left, but they refuse to sit with him, then the center-left has only itself to blame for leaving Bibi with no other option than to form far-right religious coalitions.

They might be belatedly waking up to that fact.


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3 responses to “Protest leader says he’s now open to Netanyahu-led unity government”

  1. John Taylor says:

    Ryan, I’m a US citizen, Evan Chr believer and prophecy student. I’ve got a few questions about the Knesset and party blocks. My numbers may not be accurate but they are close enough for this discussion. Bibi/Likud have 37 seats, Ben Gvir has 7, Smotrich has maybe 12 and some smaller groups have enough to make 64. Did each party have a list of members who would serve depending on the % of votes their leader received?
    Somebody recently wrote an article saying that Ben Gvir’s power is due to the fact that he controls seven votes which Bibi needs to secure passage of bills. Are party members free to vote different from their leader?
    Thanks, John E

    • Ryan Jones says:

      Ben-Gvir’s party has 6 seats, so if it left, the coalition would fall into a minority (58 seats). Party members can vote different from their leader, but they risk being booted off or dropped low on the party list in the next election if they do.

  2. John Taylor says:

    Ryan, here are some thoughts about Bibi, Likud and the makeup of Likud.
    1. Bibi’s age and health-he is over 70 and just had a pacemaker installed. His job and its requirements are very stressful. Suppose he dies or decides to quit for health reasons.
    2. How is the PM replaced? Does the PM position stay with Likud or go to someone else like Lapid or Gantz?
    3. Are there current members of Likud who are prepared to lead the partywith Bibi’s thoughts and goals?
    4. How long have Ben Gvir, Smotrich, Lapid, Gantz, Bennett and others been trying to build their respective parties?

    I’m familiar with Avi Lipkin whom I’ve heard on American evangelical programs. He has been trying to start a Bible bloc party for some years but he must be short of the necessary members.
    Thank you, John E

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