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Bennett’s first 100 days: Transitional, not transformational

CM 19/09/2021


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During US President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office, he pushed through a $1.9 billion COVID relief bill, reached a milestone of 200 million coronavirus shots administered, and issued more executive orders than any other president – overturning, in the process, many of his predecessor Donald Trump’s policies.
The Energizer Bunny pace of his first three months in office led pundits to quip that while many thought Biden would be a transitional president – transitioning from Trump to a new generation of Democratic leaders – he set out determined to be a transformational one in the mold of a Franklin D. Roosevelt.

 US President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a package of economic relief measures to respond to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, inside the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, March 11, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/TOM BRENNER) US President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a package of economic relief measures to respond to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, inside the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, March 11, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/TOM BRENNER)

The same, however, cannot be said of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who on Tuesday will mark 100 days as this country’s premier.

Few will say that this period has been transformational. Bennett has not set out to undo all that his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, touched, nor has he chalked up a legislative win to rival Biden’s COVID relief bill.
“This is a special moment,” Bennett said 100 days ago in his maiden speech to the Knesset, “the moment in which the baton of leading the people and the country passes – as in a relay race – to the next generation.”
In other words, he views his premiership as a transitional moment, and the first 100 days of this transition have demonstrated to the nation that, yes, there is life after Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel can survive, function, both generate and solve problems and conduct high-profile international relations without Netanyahu at the helm.
After 12 years and two months straight of Netanyahu as prime minister – and more than 15 years in total – Bennett’s first 100 days have proven the axiom that no one is irreplaceable. Not even Netanyahu.
Doomsday scenarios about what would happen were Netanyahu not leading the country have – so far – failed to materialize: Hamas and Hezbollah were not suddenly emboldened and empowered, Iran did not sprint across the nuclear threshold, COVID vaccines did not abruptly dry up, the economy did not collapse, and Israel’s standing in the international community did not plummet.
On the contrary, Israel’s relations with some international actors – including the US Democratic Party and Jordan – improved, the economy remained on course, a third COVID booster shot was successfully rolled out, the US did not sell out the store to re-enter the Iranian nuclear deal, and the situation with Hamas and Hezbollah remains pretty much as it was when Bennett took over. In other words, things have continued along the same trajectory as before; the swearing-in of the new government did not dramatically alter the course of the nation.
Except for one major difference: There is far less drama; much less cacophony. Both Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, scheduled to take over from Bennett in 2023, vowed that this government would deal less with itself and more with the business of governing – and on that, they have, at least in these early days, delivered.
The Bennett government’s most significant achievement so far, one that historians might not find remarkable yet one that is notable in the context of the country’s coming out of four divisive political campaigns in two years, is that Bennett has managed to just turn down the volume.
Gone, at least for the time being, is the constant political tension, the divisive and hateful rhetoric, the nonstop obsession with the Netanyahus. Or, as Bennett put it in his inaugural address to the Knesset, “the maelstrom of hatred and in-fighting” that the country was thrown into one election after the other, which continued to “rip apart the seams that hold us together.”
“Such quarrels between the people who are supposed to be running the country led to paralysis,” he said. “One who quarrels cannot function.”
That level of quarreling, a level of quarreling that led to an inability to do something as basic as passing a budget, has stopped – and that is the crowning achievement of Bennett’s first 100 days.
The end of the endless quarreling brought with it a new tone: that it is possible to work together with those with whom one does not ideologically agree.
Again, Bennett laid out this guiding principle in his Knesset speech: “The government that will be formed represents many of Israel’s citizens: from Ofra to Tel Aviv, from Rahat to Kiryat Shmona. Precisely here lies the opportunity. Our principle is: We will sit together, and we will forge forward on that which we agree – and there is much we agree on, transportation, education and so on, and what separates us, we will leave to the side.”
For the first 100 days, the government has managed to do that. It has managed to put aside the ideological differences, not allow them to sidetrack the government from its primary mission: to govern, to restore a semblance of normalcy that the country lost during the two years of a never-ending election loop.
That which separates the parties in the coalition did not disappear – and may at some point emerge to sink this unique experiment in governing with a very ideologically diverse coalition – but at least for 100 days, what separates was left to the side.
Not everyone thought this government would last this long. Netanyahu, during his last speech to the Knesset before the power was transferred to Bennett, vowed to lead “a daily struggle against this left-wing government” and “bring it down faster than you think.”
He didn’t. And if the government will at long last pass a budget in November – another significant accomplishment – Bennett looks pretty safe in his job until 2023.
While passing a budget is significant, considering that no government has passed one since 2018, that cannot be considered historic. The inclusion of an Arab party into the governing coalition was historic, however, and is a move that will go down as an important milestone in the integration of the country’s Arab minority, a minority that now constitutes some 21% of the population.
On COVID, this government is faring little better than the previous one – or most other governments around the world – in managing the swiftly mutating pandemic.
Where this government has an advantage over the previous one, however, is that its component parts are for the most part working together, not against one another to score populist political points. As a result, the decision-making is less prone to pressure from various sectors.
With elections not just around the corner, decisions can be made without having to worry about how decisions will affect one constituency or another, and these decisions can be made on their merits, not based on what is politically more expedient.
Diplomatically, the government has benefited from the fact that certain key players around the world – such as Biden and the European Union – want to see this government succeed, want to keep Netanyahu from returning to power, want to ensure that Bennett passes the baton to Lapid in 2023, and so far have been careful not to do anything to rock this fragile coalition.
Bennett is not facing intensive diplomatic pressure to do anything on the Palestinian track that he does not feel he can do, and even though the prospect of a Netanyahu return may keep this pressure at bay for another 100 days, it won’t last indefinitely.
And when that changes, when Washington and some European capitals begin to show impatience with Israel over its policies in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, then some of those issues that Bennett says have been pushed to the side because of a lack of agreement will likely come to the fore, and the goodwill that has for the most part been this government’s trademark since it was sworn in on June 13 may begin to fray.
Until that time, however, the much less acrimonious tone and atmosphere marked by this government’s first 100 days could very well continue.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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