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A vote in the Knesset and a protest on Jerusalem Day suggest that Benjamin Netanyahu's influence endures.
Israel's improbable "change government" has been in power exactly one year this week, a landmark that is primarily a tribute to how its various leaders' contempt for former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marginally exceeds their antipathy for one another. The government is a coalition of two blocs: three rightist parties, managed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Yamina party, representing Land of Israel hard-liners; and four center and left parties, managed by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, the founder of the Yesh Atid party, which appeals to Tel Aviv's bourgeois intelligentsia. The two blocs, with the support of a moderate conservative Islamist party led by Mansour Abbas, whose explicit aim was to increase investment in Arab-Israeli communities, initially held a bare majority of sixty-one seats in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. According to an agreed-upon rotation plan, Bennett and Lapid were scheduled to switch jobs in the summer of 2023; all leaders had agreed to avoid tackling the most divisive issues, especially those dealing with the occupation of Palestine. But a vote in the Knesset on the night of June 6th suggests that division is inescapable and that the government's run may come to an end, in months, if not weeks. Israel would then face a fifth general election in three years and, once again, as the Haaretz editor, Aluf Benn, told me, "the campaign will largely be about Bibi, who remains the dominant figure in our politics."
What has the change government changed? To judge from recent international headlines, not much.
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