TEL AVIV (Realist English). The head of the international expert center ICES Alexander Tsinker answered the questions of the Realist News Agency.
How does the current composition of the government differ from previous governments headed by Netanyahu?
Alexander Tsinker: Israel has sworn in the 37th government, which is also called the sixth government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and experts have already designated it as the strangest government in the history of the Jewish state.
The ideology of Netanyahu’s current far-right religious partners is far from his own, despite the fact that these parties form the basis of his current coalition. But the new coalition differs not only in this.
Netanyahu, creating previous coalitions, always tried to be not the most left-wing there. Therefore, he always invited to the coalition and the government, in addition to natural partners in the right camp, those who were considered representatives of the center-left camp. In the decision-making process, the pragmatist Netanyahu used the presence of the left in the government to carry out steps that could irritate the right.
This time around, this Netanyahu model will not help. For all his conservatism, he is considered the most left-wing in the new government. His coalition partners, realizing the current situation in which the right-wing leader has no other way to form a government except with the radicals of his own wing, will try to get all their ideological demands from him as much as possible.
Israel is going through a constant series of elections. Governments change so quickly that outside observers do not have time to remember the names of ministers. What, in your opinion, is the cause of the political crisis in which the country is in?
Alexander Tsinker: Indeed, over the past 3 years, there have already been fifth elections in Israel. Outwardly, it really looks very much like a political crisis. But this is not quite right. If we take, for example, the results of the last few elections, it turns out that the center-right camp, with the support of moderate religious parties, is gaining a stable majority bordering on the constitutional one. So what’s the problem? The problem is the personality of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Some of his fellow party members, who did not agree with the methods of decision-making in the party, left it. Some partners in the right bloc have not forgiven Netanyahu for violations of inter-party agreements. And the main reason for the inability, at this stage, to form a balanced coalition for him is the judicial investigation against Netanyahu.
The unwillingness of parties, even those close in ideology, to work under Netanyahu’s leadership has led to a protracted crisis, which from the outside seems systemic and political.
The Western press believes that the prime minister’s chair is necessary for Netanyahu in order to obtain judicial immunity from criminal prosecution. Do you agree with this statement?
Alexander Tsinker: I agree with the statement that the ongoing trial is the sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the Prime Minister, and Netanyahu will do everything to remove it. It is no coincidence that the basic principles of the new cabinet’s work state that “the government will take steps to ensure the ability to govern and restore an appropriate balance between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.”
Likud deputies and coalition partners have already prepared a number of draft laws envisaging revolutionary reforms in the legal system. It is quite possible that such pressure from the legislature on the judiciary may push all parties along the path of adopting a pre-trial deal on Netanyahu’s cases.
As for “judicial immunity to the head of state from criminal prosecution,” such a French version, in my opinion, is not suitable for Israel. We have a parliamentary system, and this applies primarily to countries with a presidential form of government.
What do you personally expect from the new Israeli government?
Alexander Tsinker: Today, fears prevail in Israeli society that the radicalism of Likud’s coalition partners may lead to sharp shocks in various areas of security, economy, health, and most importantly, affect the status quo in matters of religion and the state that has existed since the creation of Israel.
I really hope that in the new government, under the influence of Netanyahu’s well-known pragmatism and the influence of public opinion, common sense will prevail. The Cabinet has a number of serious domestic and foreign policy issues on its agenda that need to be addressed urgently, but without fuss.
Henry Kissinger has said once that Israel has no foreign policy, only an internal one. The ministers of the new government will have to decide with relation to the United States and the European Union, the Palestinian Authority, Iran’s nuclear program, the Russian-Ukrainian military confrontation, rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, the strengthening of anti-Semitism in the world, the growth of socio-economic security of the population, etc.