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People celebrate the swearing-in of the new government in Tel Aviv, Israel People celebrate the swearing-in of the new government in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 13, 2021 (AP photo by Oded Balilty).

Will Israel’s New Coalition Be a True ‘Government of Change’?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The sight of thousands of secular, liberal, cosmopolitan Israelis descending on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv last week to celebrate the appointment of a religious, conservative nationalist as their new prime minister perfectly captures the peculiar state of Israeli politics today. One can only imagine the horror that would have swept over those demonstrators had Naftali Bennett been elected under any other circumstances. But such is the political mood in Israel as the new government takes the helm: Settlers mourn the election of the former head of the Yesha Council—the umbrella organization of Jewish settlements in the West Bank—as prime minister, while leftists rejoice as staunch opponents of peace and civil equality return to their erstwhile posts in top government ministries.

A single common cause inspires the eight-party coalition government—the most ideologically diverse in Israeli history—that was sworn in on June 13: to free Israel not only from the personal sway of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—popularly known in Israel by his nickname, Bibi—but also from the toll that his efforts to cling to power have taken on the country’s political norms, public institutions and social fabric. ...

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