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Netanyahu camp adds Arab 'extortion' to right-wing playbook

With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unable to form a government with his right-wing allies, he and his associates hope to prevent others from succeeding at the task by launching a new line of attack inciting against the Arab parties and branding those who cooperate with them as security threats.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he speaks during a memorial ceremony for Israeli soldiers killed in the 1973 Middle East War at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem October 10, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RC164B9F1A90
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Yes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to prevent Blue and White leader Benny Gantz from forming a new government. Still, there is no real value to the letters of commitment that Netanyahu has gotten his partners in the ultra-Orthodox parties and on the right to sign. The effort is futile. Under the right circumstances, any potential coalition partner can choose to ignore such a document after signing it, citing the need to follow a ruling by their movements or the dictates of the rabbis. Thus it makes no sense that most of the partners in Netanyahu’s bloc responded so positively to his demand for absolute loyalty. Surely they must have noticed that for the second time in half a year, their leader can’t form a government.

The document that Netanyahu’s “natural partners” — Shas, Yahadut HaTorah and HaBayit HaYehudi–National Union — were coaxed to sign Oct. 16 is disturbing. The agreement reads, “If, God forbid, a minority government is sworn in with the support of the Joint List, either from outside the coalition or as a part of it, we will not join the government at any stage, we will vote against it in every vote, and we will do everything we can to topple it.” Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked of the New Right declined to sign the agreement. It is especially worth noting the formula used to appeal to the ultra-Orthodox parties. The expression “God forbid” in this context is reserved for natural disasters or other cataclysmic events, which man alone cannot prevent.

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