Israel: Netanyahu Sworn in as PM

On Thursday, Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel's PM, just moments after its parliament, known as the Knesset, voted 63-54 to approve his new government, which is reportedly the most far-right coalition in the country's history.

Israel: Netanyahu Sworn in as PM
Image credit: Reuters

Facts

  • On Thursday, Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel's PM, just moments after its parliament, known as the Knesset, voted 63-54 to approve his new government, which is reportedly the most far-right coalition in the country's history.
  • This marks Netanyahu's sixth term as PM and comes 18 months after he was ousted from power over corruption investigations. His coalition, however, won a victory in November in the country's fifth election in less than four years.
  • The rightward shift in the Israeli government has prompted concerns abroad, with neighboring Jordan's King Abdullah II saying he's prepared for conflict should Israel cross "red lines" on Jerusalem's holy sites.
  • Since 1967, Jordan has been the custodian of holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque atop the Temple Mount. Jewish visitors are allowed to go there but are barred from praying at the Temple Mount, while Muslims are allowed to freely visit and worship at the mosque.
  • Abdullah's warning came in the lead-up to Netanyahu's return in an interview with CNN on Wednesday, where he also expressed concern over the potential of widespread Palestinian unrest.
  • Netanyahu pushed back on concerns, highlighting his major priority as the new PM to sign peace agreements with Arab nations "to end the Israeli-Arab conflict." He also outlined other goals, such as addressing Iran's nuclear weapons and developing Israel's infrastructure.

Sources: Al Jazeera, CNN, Israel Hayom, and Times of Israel.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by The New York Times. To stay in power, corruption-plagued Netanyahu has bowed to the demands of the most extreme elements of Israeli politics. His concessions to ultra-Orthodox and ultra-nationalist parties are a massive blow to Israeli democracy, the rule of law, and thus to the future of Israel. Moreover, by rejecting the two-state solution, the new government is poised to risk fresh Arab-Israeli violence. It's time for Washington to end its ambiguity about Israel and stand up for democracy, as it otherwise does all over the world.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Times of Israel. Even before Netanyahu was sworn in, media activists warned that his new government poses a threat to Israeli democracy. However, these critics ignore the fact that Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East and that it was the Israelis who wished Netanyahu back in power. Washington should think twice before joining the doomsayers' camp and alienating its closest ally in the region. Instead of jumping to conclusions and demonizing the coalition government, the actual political work should be evaluated as it happens.
  • Narrative C, as provided by Mitvim. As Israel's right-wing coalition takes control, all eyes are on Israel and how it will solve the religiously sensitive situation around the Temple Mount. Jordanian officials have warned that any attempt by the new government to change the status quo at the site could threaten peaceful relations with Jordan and inflame the entire region, as it has before. While the new PM has sent reassuring messages, this will be a major test for Netanyahu's new right-wing government.

Predictions