Middle East | 17 June 2021

Israel: Coalition brings historic change of government

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After twelve years, the era of Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister Netanyahu has come to an end. On 13 June 2021, Al-Monitor reported that right-wing Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett was sworn in as Israel's 13th Prime Minister, the first religiously observant prime minister. He will lead a new government composed of a coalition of religious, secular, nationalist, left-wing, centrist and Arab parties and will be replaced after two years by the leader of the center-left Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid. It is the first Israeli government to include an Arab Muslim party, whose leader, Mansour Abbas, will become deputy minister of Arab affairs in the prime minister's cabinet. What will this government mean for the situation of the roughly 175,000 Christians in the country? World Watch Research analyst Henriette Kats comments: "Most Israeli Christians have an Arab background. Time will tell to what extent Mansour Abbas can improve the situation of the Israeli Arab community. According to Abbas' party, the signed coalition agreement includes an allocation of more than $16 billion to "˜improve infrastructure and curb violent crime in Arab towns". If he succeeds, Arab Christians would also benefit from this. Abbas' Islamist faction, however, has its roots in the Muslim Brotherhood and it is hoped that Christian Arabs will not be overlooked. And then there is also a group of about 20,000 Messianic Jews. Several of them experienced problems in obtaining residency permits when Ultra-Orthodox Jews held sway over the Ministry of the Interior. It is hoped that their situation will improve with the departure of these parties from the government." Henriette Kats continues: "This government can act as a model of coexistence since it includes parties from across the entire political spectrum. However, it also contains parties with very different agendas. Their main binding factor would seem to be the intention to bring the Netanyahu era to an end. The new government says it aims to focus on domestic reforms in particular and will avoid implementing radical measures where there are controversial topics such as government policy towards Palestinians. The big question now is whether such a coalition can lead to a stable government that will serve the full term of four years."


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