Ernest Omoarelojie with Agency Reports.
Courtesy a motley of an eight-party coalition at the Knesset on Sunday, Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Natanyahu, has been shown the exit door after a cumulative 15 years in office. His ouster pave the way for the emergence of one of his formal aide and ultra nationalist, Naftali Bennet.
Shortly before his ouster, Natanyahu, the 71 year-old longest serving Israeli Prime Minister, had vowed to keep fighting for his party to remain relevant even if it means doing so from opposition status.
“If it’s our destiny to be in the opposition, we’ll do so with our heads high until we take down this bad government and return to lead the country our way.”
He certainly has to prove himself right now that his party has been confined to the opposition. However, the emergence of Bennett is sequel to what is being described by middle east watchers as a “seismic shift”, formed by parties united only by their disdain for the very combative Natanyahu, often referred to as Bibi by his right wing supporters. In any case, his end came via a 60-59 vote margin, the tiniest in the Knesset, following intense high wire political drama. That however, did not stop his opponents from breaking out in spontaneous jubilation amidst “Bye bye Bibi,” with one of them cheerfully intoning, “It’s something Israel needs.”
Bennett, who is 22 younger than Natanyahu has promised before his election that he would lead a new government that represents the whole of Israel even though the task seems impossible given that his is a coalition of strange bed fellows-a group of parties with divergent ideogical leanings. But an undeterred Bennett who lamented that his country has gone through four inconclusive elections in under two years, leading it to being blown into what hermed “…a maelstream of hatred and infighting…,” insists he is prepared to usher the country in to a new era of peace.
“We stopped the train before the abyss. The time has come for different leaders, from all parts of the people to stop this madness”, he said amidst angry shouts of “liar” and “criminal” from right-wing opponents.
Bennett’s emergence was brokered after striking a deal with eight other coalition parties. As part of the deal, he is expected to hand over to Yari Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid Party, a center left group, in two years. That is if the coalition lasts that long.
But on a larger scale, observers are concerned that the emergence of Bennett, an ultralnationist who is opposed to Palestinian sovereignty, could be the beginning of more troubles for Israel’s next door Arab neighbours. For a start, it remains to be seen how the ideologically divided coalition would hold on long enough particularly given the fact that the only tread binding them, a common animosity” towards the former prime Minister, could wear off sooner than later.