Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett have succeeded in forming a unity government comprised of parties spanning the political spectrum, from Left to Right, and including an Arab party, Ra’am. It will be the first time that an Arab party has ever been part of a government. Bennett will serve as Prime Minister for the first 18 months and then Yair Lapid will take over. Lapid will start off as Foreign Minister. Benny Gantz will remain as Defense Minister. Avigdor Lieberman will be Finance Minister and Gideon Saar Minister of justice.
In its first show of power the new coalition succeeded in winning a Knesset vote to replace Knesset speaker Yariv Levin of Likud with Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy, in order to prevent Levin from delaying the installation of the new government to allow PM Netanyahu to try and break up the coalition. The 6 Arab List MK’s joined in the vote to replace Levin. The new government can now be sworn in as early as Monday.
Netanyahu is still doing everything he can to try and break up the new coalition. Demonstrations were held in front of the homes of Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. More demonstrations are planned for the weekend.
As the first Arab party to sit in a government, the Ra’am party agenda focuses primarily on improving the economic situation and standard of living of the Israeli Arab population. It’s hard to imagine that the party will support legislation that relates to settlement expansion or other issues that are opposed by the Palestinians, in which case it will have the power to either block the legislation or bring down the government. However, it is likely that the opposition, which will be comprised of Likud and the religious parties will most likely support legislation that lines up with their ideology, so the threat of Ra’am be able to scuttle right wing legislation is highly unlikely. It’s also important to remember that PM Netanyahu offered Ra’am to join his government along with lots of incentives before Ra’am agreed to join the Lapid-Bennett coalition.
Honduras will open its embassy in Jerusalem this month. Israel will open a diplomatic office in Tegucigalpa, Honduras’s capital city.
Egypt has sent a convoy of engineers and building equipment to Gaza.
Around 8,000 people took part in the annual LGBT march in Jerusalem yesterday. The march was heavily guarded by thousands of security personnel.