JERUSALEM — News of the Israeli authorities’s collapse was barely an hour outdated, however Benjamin Netanyahu, the opposition chief and former prime minister, had already declared that he was heading again to energy.
“My friends and I will form a national government,” Mr. Netanyahu mentioned in a video posted swiftly on-line on Monday evening, earlier than Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had even made a proper resignation speech.
“A government that will take care of you, all of the citizens of Israel, with no exceptions,” Mr. Netanyahu added.
His declare was untimely. A brand new election — Israel’s fifth in less than four years — is not going to be held till the autumn, and will conclude with none bloc profitable a majority. Parliament has additionally but to be dissolved, and most probably received’t be till subsequent Monday.
And as a parting shot earlier than an election marketing campaign, lawmakers would possibly cross a regulation barring legal defendants from turning into prime minister. That might have an effect on Mr. Netanyahu, who’s in the midst of a yearslong corruption trial.
Nevertheless, the potential of Mr. Netanyahu’s returning to workplace is now stronger than at any level since he left it last June.
Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Mr. Netanyahu now has the possibility so as to add to his earlier 15 years in energy, a tenure through which he formed up to date Israeli discourse and priorities greater than another determine. During his earlier stints, he pushed Israeli society to the correct, inspired fashionable distrust of the judiciary and the media, and accelerated Israel’s acceptance throughout the Middle East whereas overseeing the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Like supporters of Donald J. Trump, Mr. Netanyahu’s base didn’t abandon him even after he misplaced energy.
In a brand new election, polling suggests, Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing get together, Likud, would simply win extra seats than another. His wider alliance of right-wing and non secular events, although in need of an total majority, would nonetheless be the most important in Parliament. And some right-wing lawmakers who refused to return him to energy final 12 months would possibly change their minds within the fall, giving him management of Parliament.
To his supporters, that might herald the return of robust right-wing governance to Israel, after a turbulent 12 months through which the nation has been run by a fragile coalition of eight ideologically incompatible events — together with each Jewish and Arab lawmakers — who have been united solely by their opposition to Mr. Netanyahu himself.
To his detractors, nonetheless, the prospect of his return is worrying. A brand new Netanyahu authorities would most probably hinge on the help of a far-right get together that would demand management of the ministry overseeing the police pressure in trade for its loyalty.
Mr. Netanyahu’s personal get together has spent the previous 12 months undermining the idea of Jewish-Arab partnership, hinting at radical adjustments to the judicial system, and even at instances promising revenge on its political opponents.
Mr. Netanyahu himself has denied that he would use a return to authorities to disrupt his prosecution, implying that he could be completely happy to face trial — a course of that’s anticipated to final for a number of extra years — whereas working the nation.
But one Likud lawmaker and Netanyahu loyalist, Shlomo Karhi, mentioned earlier this 12 months that he would work to exchange the lawyer normal, the senior authorities official who oversees Mr. Netanyahu’s prosecution. And one other Likud lawmaker and former minister, David Amsalem, mentioned earlier this month that “anyone who does not intend to change, first and foremost, our sick and biased judicial system, has nothing to look for in the Likud.”
“Once we break the bones of the left wing, we will explain to them that we know how to run this country a little bit better,” Mr. Amsalem mentioned in a separate radio interview this month.
To Ben Caspit, a biographer of Mr. Netanyahu, this sort of rhetoric raises issues in regards to the prospect of a brand new Netanyahu-led authorities. “Israeli democracy would really, really be in danger,” mentioned Mr. Caspit, a political commentator.
“The only thing that interests him is stopping his trial,” he mentioned.
Some Netanyahu allies dismiss this discuss as alarmism.
“Fake predictions,” mentioned Tzachi Hanegbi, a veteran Likud lawmaker and former minister. “They cannot fault Netanyahu on security or the economy,” Mr. Hanegbi mentioned. “So what can they talk about?”
To some leftists and plenty of Palestinians, in the meantime, a brand new Netanyahu authorities wouldn’t be a lot worse than the present one.
Prime Minister Bennett has a unifying method and shaped a governing alliance with an unbiased Arab get together for the primary time in Israeli historical past. But on many elementary points, he agrees with Mr. Netanyahu. A former settler chief, Mr. Bennett opposes a Palestinian state, maintained a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and accepted the development of hundreds of recent settlement models within the occupied West Bank.
Ultimately, Mr. Bennett mentioned, he determined to deliver down his personal authorities to forestall the collapse of a two-tier legal system within the West Bank that distinguishes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. Some liken it to apartheid.
Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian political analyst and former Palestinian minister, mentioned, “The current government might be different in certain views and positions, but in practice it wasn’t different at all.”
“They had the same political attitude: no to a Palestinian state, no to negotiations,” he mentioned. “And they continued with settlement expansion as fast as they could.”
Understand the Collapse of Israel’s Government
The present and former governments additionally had comparable approaches to the broader Middle East. Both sought to construct new diplomatic ties with Arab nations that had lengthy remoted Israel, and each opposed American-led efforts to provide sanctions reduction to Iran if Iranian officers agreed to mood their nuclear enrichment program.
But to many Israelis, there’s a clear distinction between a right-wing authorities led by Mr. Netanyahu and the varied present coalition led by Mr. Bennett and his centrist associate, Yair Lapid, who is ready to develop into a caretaker prime minister through the election marketing campaign.
Despite coming from opposing political camps, Mr. Bennett and Mr. Lapid constructed a partnership primarily based on compromise and civility, which supporters noticed as a pointy distinction to Likud’s bullish divisiveness.
During their speeches on Monday to announce the federal government’s collapse, the 2 males displayed respect, affection and admiration for one another whilst they introduced in regards to the finish of their joint venture. “I really love you,” Mr. Lapid advised Mr. Bennett throughout an unscripted second.
In sensible phrases, their authorities additionally bought Israel shifting once more after a interval of paralysis below Mr. Netanyahu, who lacked a large enough parliamentary majority throughout his remaining two years in energy to meet sure fundamental features of presidency.
Mr. Bennett’s administration handed Israel’s first national budget in additional than three years; tried to cut back meals prices by eradicating tariffs on meals imports; started to liberalize the regulation of kosher meals; and crammed a number of key vacancies within the senior echelons of the civil service that had been left empty below Mr. Netanyahu.
The Bennett authorities presided over one of many quietest intervals in Gaza in a number of years, encouraging militants there to limit their rocket hearth on southern Israel by providing hundreds of recent work permits to Gazan residents.
The authorities additionally improved relations with the Biden administration, whereas nonetheless opposing some administration objectives, just like the Iran nuclear deal or the reopening of an American consulate in Jerusalem to Palestinians.
Mr. Netanyahu is just not a shoo-in for the following prime minister, any greater than he was in 4 elections from 2019 to 2021. Each time, he was unable to kind a majority coalition with different events, or didn’t honor commitments to them when he did.
This new election could also be no totally different, mentioned Prof. Gideon Rahat, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
“We’ve been in this movie four times and we can get similar results a fifth time,” Professor Rahat mentioned.
Right-wing events that beforehand balked at sitting in a Netanyahu authorities would possibly go along with him this time, however expertise has proven that such partnerships don’t finish effectively, he added.
“Netanyahu has a credibility problem,” Professor Rahat mentioned. “He can make 1,000 promises, but nobody believes him. Netanyahu is not bad at electoral politics, but when it comes to building a coalition, he doesn’t have the credit.”
Reporting was contributed by Myra Noveck from Jerusalem and Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel.