As Israel’s New Coalition Government Gets Underway, New and Old Conflicts Arise



Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a coalition government after his Likud Party’s resounding victory in the March elections. As positions in the government have been given out to coalition partners, and agreements made about government priorities, we’ve started to get a sense of what this government coalition will mean for Israel. While laws have yet to be passed, political parties—and the Members of Knesset in them—are starting to stake their claims for how they want the government to respond to challenges throughout its term. Here are some of the developments we’ve been watching:

  • The new Minister of Religious Affairs, David Azoulay, from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, called Reform Jewry “a disaster for the nation of Israel” earlier this week. Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism, called for Minister Azoulay to resign, and sent a letter to Prime Minster Netanyahu to disavow Minister Azoulay’s remarks.
  • There have been worries amongst many in the NGO (non-governmental organization) community in Israel that this governing coalition would place burdens on progressive NGOs that are unfairly presumed to be serving foreign interests instead of Israelis. We saw the first attempt at imposing a burden as Bezalel Smotrich, an MK for the ultra-nationalist Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, has proposed a bill that would require representatives from NGOs to wear IDs when meeting with government officials, reinforcing the stereotype that they do not serve Israeli interests.
  • Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, which is not in the governing coalition, has proposed a law that would cut off government campaign funding to parties and candidates that support boycotts of Israel or Israeli products. The law, if passed, would likely affect the Arab collection of parties in the Knesset, the Joint List.
  • Senior government officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, talked about the prospects of establishing a Palestinian state at a conference earlier this month. Netanyahu concluded that there may be an opening for peace negotiations, although other ministers in his Likud party have sounded less optimistic.

As these proposed laws start to move though the legislative process, and these conflicts continue to play out, you can turn to the RACblog for updates and the RAC’s Israel issue page for more information.

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Jonathan Edelman

About Jonathan Edelman

Jonathan Edelman is a 2014-2015 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. A 2014 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jonathan is originally from Jacksonville, FL and is a member of Congregation Ahavath Chesed.

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