Bye Bye Bibi
Last month, I considered writing a post about the most recent fighting in the always on-going Israel-Palestine conflict, but decided against it. Every opinion that I read or heard either solely focused on current events or cited some past events while ignoring others. Understanding the current conflict requires knowing its history, which stretches back to the late 1800s. Entire books have been written on this topic and it felt impossible to sufficiently cover in a blog post. However, I feel like I can point out something that the coverage of Israel and Palestine and the corresponding political debate here in the United States both seemed to miss. Those on the left tended to support the Palestinians in the occupied territories, and those on the right generally supported Israel. What got lost is that Israel has its own internal political divisions. And last week, the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, voted to remove Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.
I am in no way an expert on the Israeli political system, but I hope I've been able to successfully piece together from various articles some of how it works. The Knesset has 120 members elected from many different political parties. The Prime Minister is then the leader of whichever party is able to form a coalition with other parties comprising a majority of seats in the Knesset. Members from parties across the political spectrum joined to form a narrow majority and vote out Netanyahu 60-59. The parties within this new majority don't appear to agree on much other than that Netanyahu, who is currently on trial for corruption, needed to be removed. The deal to form this new coalition included splitting the next 4-year Prime Minister appointment between Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid, who will take turns being Prime Minister for 2 years and hold veto power during the other 2 years. Combined with the overall variety of views within the majority, this probably means not much will change in terms of policy. Most likely, the status quo will continue concerning settlements in the West Bank and how to respond to Hamas rocket fire from Gaza.
On the other hand, simply removing Netanyahu could still be important. Netanyahu had been Prime Minister for 12 years, was on trial for allegedly bribing media companies for favorable coverage, and tried to use his office to shield himself from legal consequences. What stood out to me in looking at how his removal was covered in American media was how his term as Prime Minister was described. Sources on the left described his tenure as "long" and stated that it "finally" ended, while some on the right referred to it as a "record." Maybe this is due to my sports fandom, but "record" sounds like a much more positive word to use. It seems odd to describe someone holding onto power within a democracy longer than anyone previously had as a "record," like it's an accomplishment. Democracy is not about holding power and periodic change in who holds power should be viewed as positive, not the other way around.