A New Coalition ?

A New Coalition ?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Assuming that the 21 Minister Cabinet that Netanyahu has floated for the past few days holds, there are some very important political changes and some very strange ones as well within this coalition. The most obvious, of course, is that the two new parties on the block received what they demanded as the major condition for their joining the Government; no charedi parties in the Government. In fact it is their absence and the fact that this apparently was the deal-maker or deal-breaker which leads to a set of very curious conclusions.

It remains to be seen what are the precise terms of their actual agreement with Netanyahu on charedim serving in the Army or performing national service in terms of ages, numbers, and length of service. The agreement also means the absence of a charedi party from any Ministry such as Housing from whence they traditionally benefitted greatly, regardless of whether the Government was a left leaning Labor Party or a right-leaning Likud one.                       

Yisrael Beitenu—led by Naphtali Bennett and basically a right wing, pro-settler, largely religious Zionist party, cut the deal before entering the coalition with Yesh Atid–led by Yair Lapid, a largely secular group which strongly favors a two state solution, and evacuating settlements.   This agreement—assuming it is enacted in to law—is a strong statement as to a new direction for Israel. The unanswered question which seems to be wide open in this proposed coalition is whether there is any consensus on how to proceed in any negotiations with the Palestinians.

For the West and for many American Jews, the need for the charedim to shoulder their fair share of military/national service for the country is legitimate, but it is matters involving the peace process, future settlements, and territorial concessions which are paramount in their eyes in sustaining the character of the Jewish State. Ultimately, it will be these issues which will determine the future of Israel moreso than whether the charedim are carrying guns.

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