The Bennett-Lapid Government's First 100 Days: What Promises Have They Broken?
© REUTERS / POOLIsraeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett shares a joke with alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid during the first weekly cabinet meeting of their new government in Jerusalem June 20, 2021.
© REUTERS / POOL
Before they took office in mid-June, the duo dispersed vows left, right and centre. They said they would pass a number of reforms and improve the lives of their voters. But three months down the line, they've discovered that it's easier said than done.
It's been 100 days since Israel established a coalition government that ended two years of political turmoil and instability.
The chief of the hawkish Yamina party Naftali Bennett has become the country's Prime Minister. His partner, the liberal Yair Lapid took the office of Foreign Minister, and in August 2023 he is slated to become the next PM.
Before they were sworn in, in mid-June, the duo offered multiple promises to Israeli voters and now, 100 days later, Sputnik checks if they've kept their word.
Bennett - A Man of His Word or Empty Promises?
Coalition with Lapid -- Bennett has always been known for his harsh stance on the Palestinians and the status of Jerusalem. He has never believed in a two-state solution and has repeatedly vowed to keep the capital of Israel united, without compromising with the other side.
This was one reason why Bennett claimed he could only enter a conservative government, whereas sitting down in a coalition with Lapid, who has a more liberal approach on those issues and who has said on a number of occasions that he would try to resolve the decades-long saga with the Palestinians, was not an option.
On 13 June, Bennett showed that Lapid's views on core issues that divide Israeli society were not an issue as long as they bring him the premiership.
Seats -- In one of the interviews Bennett vowed that he would not try to become PM if he doesn't obtain enough seats in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset.
Historically, it has been that the head of the biggest or second-biggest party who gets the nation's top job. Bennett, however, only managed to secure 6 out of 120 seats in the chamber, but that didn't prevent him from assuming the PM position.
Sitting down with Raam -- In February, Bennett vowed that he would not sit down in a government that includes or that is supported by Raam, an Islamic party with purported ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement banned in many countries around the world. But when he realised that their vote would catapult him to the PM role, he withdrew his objection and to seal the deal, he promised to pour billions of dollars into the Arab sector, which has allegedly been neglected for many years.
Lapid - More Broken Promises
But Bennett is not the only politician that dared to break promises given to voters. His partner Lapid has also been accused of similar betrayals.
Compensation for Freelancers -- the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a severe blow to business owners and freelancers, who have struggled to obtain compensation from the state for losing much of their income. Lapid had vowed to change that in the ruling coalition's first 100 days in office. But it turned out that it was easier said than done.
Correcting Israel's Nation-State Law -- the law that was passed in July 2018 reiterated that Israel was a state of the Jewish people, that Jerusalem was its eternal capital and that Hebrew was the official language of the state. Soon after the legislation was passed, it stirred an uproar in Israel, the region and the world, with the international community slamming the country for actively discriminating against its sizeable minority community.
Lapid promised to right the wrong and make changes to the law that has evoked so much criticism. A hundreds days down the line, nothing has been altered.
Religion and State -- the liberal Lapid has always stressed the importance of separating religion from state and implementing a number of reforms that would improve the lives of his voters. These include allowing civil marriages (that are currently under the monopoly of the rabbinical court) or letting same-sex couples go through the process of surrogacy.
However, in a coalition that's reliant on a number of conservative elements, that has proved to be a mission impossible.
Political Reforms -- Lapid has been critical of the previous coalition led by Benjamin Netanyahu. He slammed him for staying in his seat for way too long and for bloating his government, which included 34 ministers, compared to the usual average of 19.
Before he took office, Lapid vowed to pass a law that would limit the tenure of the PM to two terms only. He also vowed not to have more than 18 ministers in his government. Neither of the promises has been kept and the coalition currently lists 28 ministers and assistants.
However, there were also promises that the duo did keep. They prevented a lockdown and kept Israel open despite the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic. They passed the national budget after two years of stagnation. And, more importantly, they managed to prevent another round of elections.
Did it translate into high approval ratings? Not really. A recent poll indicated that more than 75 percent of conservatives, which had served as Bennett's base, disapproved of the current government.
Another one showed that Bennett, if yet another vote were to be held, would continue to have 6 seats in parliament, barely passing the threshold.
Former Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the other hand, has only gotten stronger, receiving 33 seats, compared to his previous 30. And that might be an indication that his comeback is just around the corner.