“Israel’s interest goes beyond our ideological differences”



La Croix: After seven months in power, how do you judge this improbable coalition made up of eight left, center, right and radical right parties, with the participation of the Islamist movement Raam?

Emilie Moatti: Our coalition is a miracle. I’m happy that we can show the Israelis that we can do important things for the state, while keeping our ideological identity. We appreciate each other when I never imagined I could speak with Naftali Bennett for more than five minutes, apart from an argument on a television set! It is sometimes complicated, coming from the left, to know that the situation is not going to change and will not correspond with my vision. But first, Israeli society needs to calm down and breathe.

→ ANALYSIS. Israel: ruling coalition maintains itself against and against Netanyahu

Yomtob Kalfon: We have had two years of chaos in Israel with election after election and without a budget for several years. This created unprecedented tensions. This coalition, certainly totally heterogeneous and almost unimaginable, therefore marks a very strong assumption of responsibility on the part of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, with all his partners.

Are you criticized for this unprecedented alliance in your respective camps?

YK: We are seen as traitors for having formed this coalition with the left and we are still paying a very heavy political price. There is major propaganda waged by Netanyahu against us. It also lacks a bit of sense because if he wanted to return to power, opinion polls show that he would not have a coalition without my party. But for Netanyahu, whoever is not with him is demonized.

Your coalition, which has a very fragile majority in the Knesset (60 votes to 59), does it go beyond an anti-“Bibi” front?

YK: I don’t think it’s an anti-Netanyahu front. It was his refusal to pass the torch that led to successive elections. If he had passed the torch to another right-wing leader, a right-wing coalition would probably have been created. He is de facto one of the architects of this coalition.

EM: When we talk about an anti-Netanyahu front, it is not personal to me. But all those who are not “bibists” are victims of propaganda. The price Bennett’s party is paying today is very high. Before, it was the left that was targeted by this hatred: every time we left the studios, we received threats.

Has the Netanyahu page turned?

YK: It is Likud that must turn the page on Netanyahu, not us. It’s a process that will naturally happen. There are some very competent people who have ambitions, such as former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein who once said: “We lost power when the people voted for us, mostly right. “ There is a work of introspection and questioning that will be done, and the longer this coalition holds, the more likely it is that this work will be done.

→ PORTRAIT. Israel: Naftali Bennett, an unclassifiable prime minister

Our ideological differences will not be erased. In the meantime, there is a country to manage. On many points, we can agree, especially on issues of daily management of the country, economic, social. We will have time to come back to our ideological differences.

How are your antagonistic positions, for example on colonization, reconcilable within the same coalition?

EM: If it were up to me, I would sign the peace tomorrow with our neighbor on the 1967 lines and keep the settlement blocks. Unfortunately, I know that in this coalition, this is not going to be possible. But in this conflict, we are the strong side, and we must do everything possible to find a solution.

→ EXPLANATION. Israel and Palestinian Authority renew stalled dialogue

YK: Israel’s interest goes beyond our ideological differences, which remain: I did not become an advocate for the dismantling of the settlements and Emilie did not become a spokesperson for the annexation. There will be no radical changes: neither creation of a Palestinian state, nor annexation.

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