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Israeli government tested by escalating tensions in Jerusalem

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Former tech entrepreneur and herald of the settlement movement, Naftali Bennett put an end last June to 12 years of uninterrupted reign of Benyamin Netanyahu by rallying a motley coalition of deputies from the right, left, center and, for the first time in the history of Israel, of an Arab minority formation.

This grouping made it possible to reach 61 deputies, the threshold of a majority in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament. But in early April, the coalition lost its majority with the departure of hard-right MP Idit Silman, while another right-wing MP, Amichai Chikli, threatened to withdraw his support for the government.

Clashes between demonstrators and police.

Clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli police on Friday inside the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Photo: Getty Images / AHMAD GHARABLI

And on Sunday evening, the Arab-Israeli formation Raam suspended its participation in the coalition because of renewed tension at the Esplanade des Mosques, the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest place in Judaism under its name of Temple Mount.

If the government continues its arbitrary measures on the esplanade of the Mosques, where clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators left more than 170 injured, we will submit a collective resignationthreatened the party led by Mansour Abbas, which has four deputies in the coalition.

It is clear that the question of the Mount of the Temple tests the limits of such a heterogeneous coalition which brings together right-wing parties and an Islamist formation. »

A quote from Emmanuel Navon, professor of political science at Tel Aviv University

On the one hand, the government wants to apply Law and order to satisfy the right flank of the coalition; on the other, tough measures, with Israeli police deployed on a holy site of Islam, are already arousing strong reactions in the Muslim world, including among the Arab deputies of the coalition.

It’s gonna be a really big headache to deal with for Prime Minister Bennett, warns Mr. Navon. However, he says he is optimistic about the survival of the coalition, because Mansour Abbas has no interest in leaving her. He took a huge political risk [en la rejoignant] and he needs time to show his electorate that the game was worth the effort.

According to the political scientist, the leader of the Raam party wants to prove to his electorate that by being pragmatic, he has succeeded in improving the daily life of Israeli Arabs, unlike other Arab parties.

In the event that the Raam party leaves the coalition, it would see its support melt to 56 deputies, which would force the government to negotiate to pass each bill.

Obstacles in the way of the opposition

Opposite, however, the opposition would not have a de facto majority to bring down the government, because Arab elected officials remain reluctant to join a right block Benyamin Netanyahu with his Orthodox Jewish and far-right allies (53 elected).

In 2014, Israel adopted the system of constructive censure motionsdemanding that the opposition must muster a majority in favor of an alternative government project to replace the one in power.

Even if Netanyahu manages to muster a majority to bring down the government, it is not clear that he can muster a majority to propose a new one, even with deserters. »

A quote from Shmuel Sandler, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University

He also won’t be able to add Raam, because religious nationalists will oppose it.he said, hence the real possibility, according to him, of seeing the opposition gather enough votes at least to dissolve the Chamber and call new elections, the fifth in three years.

In addition to keeping the coalition in power and new elections, a surprise could also reshuffle the cards: the political retirement of Binyamin Netanyahu.

Elected members of the coalition refuse to join a government led by Mr. Netanyahu, because of the accusations of corruption which weigh against him.

Mr. Netanyahu gone, this lock would jump. It would then be possible to form a government without going to new elections.notes Mr. Sandler. The government would fall in five minutesadds Mr. Navon.

But there is little chance of that happening, says analyst Dahlia Scheindlin, because Mr. Netanyahu is not known to be someone who walks away.

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