Two days later, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the small right wing party Yamina, announced he could no longer negotiate with Lapid’s “change” coalition, because it would rely on the participation of a small Islamist party called Ra’am. Without Bennett, Lapid’s bloc would be short of the numbers needed to form a government.
“If it were not for the eruption of violence, then probably today we would have a different government in place,” said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute.
If Lapid isn’t able to form a government by June 2, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will send the mandate to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament where a member would need the backing of at least 61 members to form a government.
If the parliament is unable to nominate someone who can successfully form a government, then the country will head to yet another election later this year — the fifth since April 2019.
Plesner said that in times of conflict, Israelis tend to rally behind the Israel Defense Forces and political leaders, expecting politicians to refrain from infighting. But such situations also radicalize public opinion, he added.
“People are less likely to accept solutions of compromise. Emotions of fear, distrust, and vengeance are becoming dominant and obviously that has a political effect of strengthening not voices of moderation, but rather radical voices generally on both ends of the spectrum,” Plesner said.
Two polls released just three days after the ceasefire was announced on May 20 suggest that the long-running political stalemate remains even after the conflict, and that Netanyahu and his Likud party got little or no political bounce out of the conflict with Hamas.
Jason Pearlman, a media adviser who has worked both with Israel’s president and a number of Israeli political figures including Bennett, said the events of the past few weeks would not dramatically alter the results of an election if it were to be repeated, only bringing “the problems into sharper focus.”
“In other words, if [a ‘change’ government] was possible before, it still is. If it was impossible before, it still is. We’re just now even more painfully aware of why,” he said.
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