UK papers undecided over Netanyahu’s legacy
The BBC, The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Independent and the Financial Times all report on the election of the new government in Israel. The BBC’s Middle East correspondent Tom Bateman says “this government is Israel’s broadest ever – but that could also make it the most unstable. Naftali Bennett will have his work cut out just holding the parties together”.
The BBC looks at how Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years in office “played a key role in Israel’s drift to a more right-wing, nationalist outlook,” as well as analysing Netanyahu’s relationships with the three US presidents during his reign. The Telegraph publishes an editorial opinion piece arguing that whilst the new coalition is testament to the strength of feeling among Israeli voters, Netanyahu achieved much in 12 years and left an important legacy. The Guardian says that Netanyahu has divided opinions over his legacy: “Some see Israel’s longest-serving PM as ‘Mr Security’, others as someone who spurned the chance for peace.” The Financial Times says that “the eight-party coalition of former allies elected on Sunday is so fragile that some think the ousted leader could yet return”.
The Telegraph publishes an article about Israel’s new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett. “To his critics, Mr Bennett is Benjamin Netanyahu’s ‘Mini-me,’ a former commando who once boasted about his skills in killing Arabs and who dreams of expanding Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. But close allies of the man who became Israel’s new prime minister on June 13 insist he has a softer side which leaves him well-placed to manage the conflicting demands of an unwieldy coalition. It may be a tough sell.”
The Guardian publishes an opinion that argues British diplomatic and military support makes the UK complicit in the oppression of Palestinians.
The Independent writes about one of the deadly nights in Gaza in the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas. More than 40 people died when Israeli airstrikes targeted Wehda Street in Gaza on 16 May. Middle East Correspondent Bel Trew investigates what happened on that night.
The Times reports that Iraq plans to build eight nuclear reactors, possibly made by Russia, in a $40bn plan to tackle power cuts that have caused civil unrest. Despite having 8.4 per cent of the planet’s oil, the fifth biggest reserves in the world, dilapidated infrastructure, corruption, mismanagement and extremely high electricity usage in the summer from air conditioning have contributed to frequent blackouts.
The Independent reports that a recent survey in Iran suggests only 41 per cent of eligible voters plan to cast ballots in the 18 June contest to succeed President Rouhani. Borzou Daragahi explores why turnout is expected to be so low.
The Israeli media is dominated by yesterday’s Knesset vote that brought in the new government under Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. In Yediot Ahronot, Nahum Barnea writes: “Lapid is the big winner of this event, said to me one of the Likud ministers. He ousted Netanyahu — temporarily at least — locked Bennett and Saar in a golden cage without any future, demoted Gantz and turned himself into the undisputed leader of the centre-left bloc. If the government survives, he will become prime minister; if the government falls apart, he will square off as the sole competitor against the Likud’s candidate.” Barnea goes on to warn: “Bennett and Lapid will have to work hard at keeping their government from missteps. When a government has only 61 MKs, its test is its weakest link. Yesterday it failed to persuade the 61st MK to vote in favour of it. This government will have a hard time making decisions.”
Barak Ravid argues in Walla that after 12 consecutives years in office, Netanyahu is leaving his successor with the reality in which Iran is closer than ever to an atomic bomb. He says: “Even when Netanyahu’s policy led to a domino effect that brought Iran closer to the brink of a nuclear bomb and a widening gap between Israel and the United States, no one made amends here. The change of government in Israel is an opportunity to rethink Iranian policy. If the new government continues while doing the same thing it will be a grave mistake.”
In Maariv, Ben Caspit writes: “This morning is the dawn of a new day. It is a morning of hard, sometimes Sisyphean work, to rebuild the ruins. Netanyahu and Bibi-ism were not defeated by the left or by the right, but by sanity, or at least by the yearning for sanity. The wish of many Israelis to live in quiet, without incitement, without hatred — and mainly, without the endless lies that Netanyahu’s legacy bequeathed to us. The members of the government need to wake up this morning, watch Netanyahu’s speech, and go to work. They need to do that again every morning. They need to put their egos in storage, concede the perks, not think about their honour or about their ‘base,’ or about appointments or about honour and coupons, all temporary. They must think about the country, and only about it. It’s been a long time since we had a government like that.”
Nadav Eyal writes in Yediot Ahronot: “Israeli prime ministers never end their terms in office well; at best, they are politically betrayed or thrown out, sometimes they are prosecuted, create huge fiascos and then are replaced at worst; there was also one terrible case of murder. It is a thankless job; one doesn’t leave it happily to head into a blissful retirement. In the last few days Bennett said to everyone who talked to him, ‘This is no joke, we will be responsible for Israel’s fate,’ as if trying to remind his interlocutor — but really himself — the momentousness of the occasion. As of this morning, he is the one responsible.”
Israel Hayom’s Irit Linur objects to the role Naftali Bennett and the media played in facilitating the new Bennett-Lapid government instead of another Netanyahu government. Linur writes: “The media was appalled by the uncouthness of the right-wing rabble that finagled its way into the Knesset by such illegitimate means as elections. After all, anyone with a bit of class knows that a rabble that is elected at the polls is a greater danger to democracy than a prime minister who was elected by less than half a percent of the electorate, when two-thirds of those voters regret having voted for him. It’s true that there is no room for comparison between the false promises that Bennett made and the catcalls by the right-wing MKs. Bennett, after all, lied with beautiful, polite words and received the beautiful and polite support of our beautiful and polite media. The same media that hurled every possible insult and accusation at Netanyahu, downplayed his achievements, disrespected him and maligned him as an inciter and a divider, whereas all of his opponents received not just permission to protest against him using the most brazen and coarse curses, but received praise, were invited to participate in panel discussions and received standing in High Court of Justice hearings.”
In other news, Israel Hayom reports that the Jerusalem Department of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, warned Sunday that if the controversial flag march takes place in Jerusalem on Tuesday, the situation on the ground could “explode”. Organisers of Tuesday’s Jerusalem flag march announced on Friday that an agreement was reached with police on an altered route that will mostly avoid the Damascus Gate and the Old City’s Muslim Quarter.
Army Radio reports that Defence Minister Benny Gantz has submitted to the cabinet secretariat this morning a motion to form a state commission of inquiry into the Mt. Meron disaster for the new ministers’ review. The motion is expected to be approved in the cabinet’s next meeting.