Opinion: Though foreign minister’s decision to forfeit premiership to Yamina leader is possibly only reason new government was formed, the decision could boost his electoral potential, regardless of whether the coalition lasts or not
Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett in the Knesset for Sunday’s vote that made them foreign minister and prime minister, respectively(Photo: AP)
In order to bring Israel’s new government into being, the parties in the coalition had to make a long list of concessions.
Leading the pack is Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who forfeited his claim to the premiership under the rotation agreement signed with Benjamin Netanyahu, followed by Justice Minister Gideon Saar and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli.
Of course, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who should be credited as the chief architect of this government, gave up the first turn at prime minister to Naftali Bennett, despite the fact that his Yesh Atid party has nearly three times more Knesset seats than the latter’s Yamina.
But rest assured, Lapid’s compromise could soon yield a cornucopia of benefits for him.
It must be noted that the Yesh Atid chief’s decision to give the premiership to Bennett is pretty much the only reason this government could be formed.
But in doing so, Lapid has set the stage for the opportunity to take up residence at Balfour Street, even without a rotation agreement.
Israelis across the political spectrum are still befuddled by this patchwork coalition, which until several months ago seemed like pure fantasy.
Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, far-right and far-left sitting together under the same roof.
The projected future and longevity of this unprecedented alignment are difficult to assess due to its sheer uniqueness in Israeli political history.
So sure, Lapid forfeited to Bennett, but in doing so made the former Netanyahu ally his experimental guinea pig.
Lapid’s readiness to go second in the rotation deal, though made through political generosity, altruism and willingness to make painful political concessions, also carries huge future dividends.
Bennett is now the one who has to make the coalition work, wrangle its members around common goals, not propose or support legislation that might jeopardize the fragile government and build mutual trust and calm among its members.
The next two years are not going to be easy. But, if this ambitious project does fail during that time, Lapid will not be the one to blame.
The possible collapse of this government would jeopardize the election prospects for many of its members, but the Yesh Atid chief can tell his voters that he tried to the point of personal sacrifice, but now please trust him to go alone.
On the other hand, if this government does pass its four-year benchmark, Lapid can go to the polls stronger than he has ever been.
Either way, it seems that no matter what happens, everything will work according to his plan. Next time around, there will be no need for rotation agreements.