Unity Deal receives Mixed Reactions
Political left seemingly unhappy, but poll suggests Israeli satisfaction
In the aftermath of a historic agreement between the Likud and Kadima parties in Israel early Tuesday morning, which saw the largest coalition in 28 years formed, there have been plenty of reactions throughout the country.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the deal with then-opposition leader Shaul Mofaz, giving Netanyahu’s government 94 seats in the Knesset, out of 120 in total. Mofaz, who took over Kadima leadership from Tzipi Livni less than six weeks ago, was made deputy prime minister.
In their first joint press conference to announce the coalition on Tuesday, Netanyahu and Mofaz spoke about the country’s seventh national unity government.
“A broad national unity government is good for security, good for the economy, good for the people of Israel,” said Netanyahu. “Israel requires stability. When I thought our stability was in jeopardy, I was willing to go to elections. But when I saw I could form a very wide government, I understood that stability could be restored without going to elections, so I formed the widest national unity government.
“In political competitions there are many words. In political cooperation, there are a lot of actions.”
Mofaz also defended the coalition, saying he put the best interests of the country before his own personal reputation.
“I don’t see a problem with [my] credibility,” he said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “This serves Israel’s interest. I am sure the public is happy with it. It is very easy to remain in the opposition, but when you have 28 MKs, you have political power to make changes. Not joining the government would be irresponsible. Not joining three years ago was a historic mistake.”
Livni seemed to express her dissatisfaction with the deal in a short message posted on her official Facebook page, saying “there is such a thing as a different kind of politics, and it will win.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, a poll conducted by Channel 10 in Israel suggested that most Israelis favoured the agreement. The deal was backed by 44 per cent of Israelis, while 37 per cent opposed it and 19 per cent had no opinion, according to the poll.
Opposition members blasted the deal in a Knesset session held Wednesday, directing their criticism toward both Netanyahu and Mofaz.
“You’ve sold your soul to the devil,” MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer of the Labor party told Mofaz, according to Ynet. “The devil is the only one that profits from the deal.”
MK Zahava Gal-On of Meretz called the agreement “so dirty the public has lost faith in all of us. One rotten apple – the Kadima Party – has spoiled us all.”
On Tuesday, rookie politician Yair Lapid told the Rabbinical Assembly in Atlanta he was optimistic that the coalition would open new doors for his party, Yesh Atid.
“Not everything that happened in the last 24 hours is bad,” said Lapid, according to Ynet. “Kadima is returning to Likud and the political map in Israel has now changed in a way that now allows my party to become the sole representation of Israel’s moderate voting class.”
Newspapers across the Arab world interpreted the alliance as a signal for increased tensions, Ynet reported.
“Netanyahu is forming a war government,” read a headline published by the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi.
“No one knows what goes on through the mind of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on many regional issues these days. One can predict that this man is scheming and planning wars after murdering the peace process with the settlement policy in the occupied Arab territories.”
The UAE paper al-Bayan printed an editorial titled “A government challenges peace,” while Saudi Arabia's al-Madina newspaper reported, “Israel prepares for war.”
Netanyahu said that in the wake of Israel’s political drama, he hopes “President Abbas will use this opportunity to resume the peace talks.”