The End of the Netanyahu Era and Hope for Peace?

The intrigue surrounding the Israeli election results, which we wrote about a month ago (, continued to unfold yesterday. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin announced that he had appointed Benny Gantz, the leader of the victorious opposition party Kahol Lavan, to form a new government, after incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he was unable to form the coalition necessary to form a new government.

Thus, Netanyahu, who had relied on extreme Jewish nationalism in his politics, was ousted not by just anyone, but by those same Jewish ultra-nationalists. Specifically, it was a split between the two wings of Jewish ultranationalism that we wrote about last time — the religious wing, represented by the «native» Israeli parties, and the militant-secular wing, represented by the «Russian» Our Home Israel party. In essence, it was the leader of the latter, Avigdor Liberman, a militant secular Jewish nationalist, who left Netanyahu’s government, decided to take a gamble, dictate terms to him, and present him with a choice — between «Russian Jews» and religious Jews.

But what comes next, and what does Liberman hope to achieve by cutting off the ultranationalist branch on which he sat with Netanyahu for years? Now Gantz is in a dilemma. If he includes the Arab-hating Liberman in his coalition, he will automatically alienate the Joint List (, which after these elections became the third largest party in the Israeli Knesset in terms of mandates. However, if he decides to form a coalition with Israeli Arabs, he may alienate not only Liberman, but also a significant portion of the nationalist-minded Jewish politicians and voters who can be found in all parties and their supporters.

One thing is clear: if Gantz chooses the first option and decides to form an all-Jewish secular government without Arabs, nothing will fundamentally change in Israel except the weakening of the positions of the religious Jewish camp and the deepening of the rift between the two parts of Jewish society, in addition to the alienation of the Arabs. However, if a united Jewish-Arab government is formed, it could be a real revolution, putting an end to the Netanyahu era and paving the way for the resumption of the buried peace process between the two peoples. (In the photo — Benny Gantz and Reuven Rivlin)

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