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THE WEEK AHEAD: Fate of the Israeli government to be decided as coalition marks its first anniversary; Netanyahu-led opposition braces for an opportunity to return to power

Here are the stories we are watching...

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with MK Nir Orbach during a plenum session in the Knesset assembly hall, Oct. 11, 2021. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Fate of Bennett’s government on the line

  • First anniversary of the Israeli coalition

  • Israel-Lebanon maritime border talks

  • Israel-Morocco basketball game


FATE OF BENNETT’S GOVERNMENT ON THE LINE

A nerve-wracking week lies ahead for the Bennett-Lapid government, after a failure to pass a critical bill that allows Jews living in Judea and Samaria to be considered Israeli residents for the purpose of some Israeli laws pertaining to their obligations and rights.

Coalition members that jeopardized the passing of the legislation – Arab Members of Knesset – Mazen Ghanaim (Ra’am Party) and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz Party) – are at risk of being ousted. This week, the coalition will look for ways to replace them with members who would vote in line with the government position and be committed to the mission of helping the coalition survive.

The Israeli coalition currently rules by an evenly divided 60-60 deadlock in a parliament of 120 seats. One more lawmaker’s defection could see the government collapse. 

Nir Orbach from Bennett’s own Yamina Party could potentially be that person. He is rumored to be gearing up for a possible departure that could pave the way for Benjamin Netanyahu to build an alternative coalition without even going to snap elections. Orbach is threatening to leave unless the two Arab lawmakers who paralyzed the work of the coalition resign.

FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE ISRAELI COALITION

If the Israeli coalition survives until Monday, it will live to mark its first anniversary on June 13. Given the uncertain political circumstances, there is not much to celebrate, except for the one thing that brought the ideologically diverse parties in the coalition together: Benjamin Netanyahu. 

After 12 years with Netanyahu in power, Bennett-Lapid coalition members could soon mark a full year with him leading the opposition. That is what initially united right-, center- and left-wing parties, along with an Arab Islamist party in the Knesset.

As for Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, this one-year milestone also gets him closer than ever to his desired position: prime minister. 

Lapid is set to replace Naftali Bennett in August of 2023 as part of their rotation deal. Two scenarios stand in his way: early elections or a maneuver by Netanyahu to take back power via a complicated governmental transition.

ISRAEL-LEBANON MARITIME BORDER TALKS?

U.S. Envoy Amos Hochstein will travel to Beirut next week to discuss a dispute over the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon. The visit was announced by Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri but has so far not been confirmed by the State Department. 

Lebanon said it would invite the U.S. diplomat to continue negotiations over the issue to prevent any escalation, after an Israeli floating gas production platform arrived in the disputed zone last week. Lebanon is accusing Israel of infiltrating into contested waters.

ISRAEL-MOROCCO BASKETBALL GAME

A historic milestone for sports in the Middle East: Israel's women’s national basketball team will hold a showcase game against its Moroccan counterpart in Morocco this week. The showdown will take place as part of a cooperation agreement signed in January between the Israeli Basketball Association and the Moroccan Basketball Association. 

The game is being held in preparation for the Women's European Championships taking place in Israel in the summer of 2023. 

Israel and Morocco signed a normalization agreement in December 2020, a few months after the Abraham Accords.

This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:

  • ... Will Israeli authorities reinstate COVID-19 restrictions as a sixth wave hits the country?

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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