Opposition MKs hail collapse of Bennett government as Israeli ministers double down on ‘Never Netanyahu’ pledge

Internal divisions and opposition to Netanyahu harden among coalition lawmakers while Yamina hints at possibility of joining Netanyahu-led government.

By World Israel News Staff

Opposition MKs celebrated the Israeli government’s announcement Monday that it would back snap elections and the dissolution of the 24th Knesset, even as center-right coalition lawmakers doubled down on their staunch opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu returning to power.

On Monday night, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called for the dissolution of the current Knesset, saying that calling new elections would be “the best decision to make for Israel.”

The collapse of the ruling coalition drew cheers from Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu – Bennett’s predecessor – who predicted that the Likud would quickly return to power.

While Netanyahu castigated the Bennett government for its reliance on an Islamist party, the United Arab List (Ra’am), and accused the government of endangering Israel’s Jewish character, other opposition lawmakers claimed the coalition pursued “far-right” policies.

“This government implemented a radical far-right policy of expanding settlements, destroying houses, and carrying out ethnic cleansing in the occupied territories,” Joint Arab List MK Aida Touma-Suleiman said in a statement. It threw crumbs to the Arabs in exchange for conceding fundamental political principles.”

The U.S. has thus far declined to comment on the developments in Jerusalem, except to confirm that President Joe Biden’s planned trip to Israel next month will not be affected by the collapse of the Israeli government.

“We have a strategic relationship with Israel that goes beyond any one government. The President looks forward to the visit next month,” a White House official said, CNN reported.

Government ministers and coalition MKs pointed fingers over the government’s collapse, but remained largely unified in their goal of keeping Netanyahu from returning to power.

Health Minister and chairman of the left-wing Meretz faction Nitzan Horowitz blamed Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party for the government’s collapse, accusing Yamina MKs of being unable to work with left-wing and Arab lawmakers.

“Meretz is not at fault for the breakdown of the government,” Horowitz told Galei Zahal Tuesday morning.

“The ones who pushed for this are a number of Yamina MKs, who couldn’t take the partnership with us and with the Arabs.”

MK Eli Avidar (Yisrael Beytenu) also blamed Yamina for the government’s collapse, lamenting that coalition members were “very naïve” to trust Yamina.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar (New Hope) and Finance Minister Avidgor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) both doubled down on their pledges never to join a government with Netanyahu.

“I won’t help bring back Bibi,” Sa’ar told Kan on Tuesday. “It wouldn’t be good for the country – it would be exactly the opposite. We need to do everything possible to prevent further elections, and that is what we did for a long period.”

Liberman went so far as to call keeping Netanyahu from returning to office his party’s “main goal” in the upcoming elections, and laid the blame for the government’s fall entirely on Netanyahu.

“Yisrael Beytenu’s main goal in this election is to prevent Benjamin Netanyahu from returning to power.”

“The elections now are a result of intrigue, lies, and the subversion committed by one man – his name is Benjamin Netanyahu. And the same is true of all the previous elections.”

The Yamina party hinted it may be open to forming a new government with Netanyahu, however, with the party’s CEO, Stella Weinstein, telling Radio 103FM that Yamina will do everything in its power to avoid further snap elections.

“We never focused on personal politics, Weinstein said. “We cannot let Israel be dragged into another election just because there is someone we could form a government with that I’m not thrilled about.”

Yohanan Plesner, a former Kadima lawmaker who now serves as president of the Israel Democracy Institute, lamented the decision to dissolve the Knesset and call snap elections, saying the move was evidence that after three years, Israel remains engulfed in its worst political crisis ever.

“The decision by Prime Minister Bennett to disperse the Knesset and head to a fifth election in just three years, is a clear indication that Israel’s worst political crisis did not end when this government was sworn into office, but rather merely receded only to return when this coalition failed to find a way to continue moving forward,” Plesner said Monday night.

“While the Bennett-Lapid government undoubtedly played an important role by passing a budget and moving forward with other important legislation, this crisis ongoing will not come to an end until Israel’s leaders put their political differences aside and enact long-over-due electoral and constitutional reforms.”

The Israel Democracy Institute noted that with the fall of the Bennett government, Israel now leads the world in elections, with new elections on average once every 2.4 years since 1996. That is the shortest average duration of a national legislature among the 21 parliamentary democracies compared by the IDI.