4,456 days later in Israel. Is there life after you know who?
Today, Sunday 13th June 2021, after 12 years in power and nearly 4,500 days in office, Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu (Bibi) will no longer be the Prime Minister of Israel.
The political crisis in Israel has been drifting along for nearly 3 years. Four elections later, one war with Gaza, a corona crisis that was mishandled and then stupendously rescued, a political discourse that has become putrid beyond Trumpism, and the end is finally in sight. Well, almost.
Naphtali Bennett was due to be sworn in at 4.00pm local time after a short policy speech. This dragged on for over 45 minutes, as he was heckled by Bibi’s friends. I counted five MKs (Parliamentarians – sic!) that were ejected.
What happens to Bibi? He is rumoured to be asking his Likud party to set up new elections to reelect him immediately as its leader. Without getting into details, this move will be challenged by people like Nir Barkat (and others). Barkat is the former popular mayor of Jerusalem, who literally chased after a terrorist while mayor, and ….. is a billionaire.
Bennett was born in the USA. His parents are said to have been hippies at one stage, when flower power was the rage. They found religion. He has a fine military record and has a major hightech exit to his name. He has served as a minister – education, industry and defense. Above all, just 18 months ago, he was out of the Knesset. Today, he is the PM (under a rotation agreement) with only 6 seats for his party out of the 120 available.
Bennett speech promised a plethora of social reforms. He has to leave alone issues like territorial compromise, because his coalition would collapse quickly and because there is still nobody to talk to on the other side. What pleased me was that he intends to quickly appoint a public independent commission of inquiry into the tragedy where 45 people were trampled to death a month ago.
Why is that important? Because the outgoing government had tried to filibuster the concept. In doing so, they revealed the web of vested interests that have aligned to prevent progress in way too many areas.
As for the economy, my pet theme? The fiscal deficit is being reduced and tourists are about to be allowed back. Under the new government, there may be some significant investment in the Arab sector. And the rate of investment in the start up sector continues to set new records, as if nobody had heard of corona blues.
However, underneath the headline stats, there is much work to be done. Israel has not passed a budget for over three years, 25% of Bibi’s reign. That farce cannot hide the desperate need for direction – investment in education, welfare, new hospitals, and much much more.
Bennett stressed the need for a new form of dialogue. Hopefully, as the reigns of power slip away from some very greasy palms, we will be governed by a style of mutual respect and humility that the Israel has been starved of for years.