After 508 days of labor pains, on Sunday Israel’s Knesset voted 73-46 in favor of a new government. The 35th government is to be headed first by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then, 18 months later, by Blue and White head Benny Gantz, who is currently dubbed the “alternate prime minister and future prime minister” as well as minister of defense.
Today in The Times of Israel Podcast, to make sense of the new 35-minister government, we’re speaking with our senior analyst Haviv Rettig Gur. He has been following all the nail-biting twists and turns of the past three rapid-fire elections, and the rise and breakup of major parties, and shares his insights with podcast host Amanda Borschel-Dan.
Among the freshly minted minister, many from Blue and White are political neophytes with impressive private sector resumes. Alongside them are a slew of seasoned social activists and politicians from Likud, leading Rettig Gur to say that, contrary to most Israeli media opinion, this is overall a good and functioning government.
“It’s expensive, it’s big, it’s bloated, it’s weird… but it’s also a good government,” said Rettig Gur. “At the end of the day, we have this incredibly competent bureaucracy, we have tremendously competent people who will be running this government. We have reforms that move forward, we have ministers who care, and so we focus on all of the problems, but the problems are the side story — the footnotes — to a very serious and competent group of people.”
At the same time, the opposition has been decimated: With the defection of former Labor party head Amir Peretz to the Netanyahu government, the once stalwart party has shrunk so significantly, that, as Rettig Gur puts it, “There’s an interesting debate happening in Labor right now: ‘Do we still exist?'”
In a lively half-hour conversation, Rettig Gur answers the basic “what the heck is going on?” questions posed by Borschel-Dan about the new government’s stability and delves into just how Netanyahu’s upcoming trial may — or may not — affect it.
Other recent Times of Israel podcasts:
WhyWhyWhy!: Shop, Pray, Run
The pandemic has transformed, perhaps forever, how we experience the most banal of activities, whether it’s a trip to the supermarket or a walk in the neighborhood. In this episode of the storytelling podcast “WhyWhyWhy! from Lockdown,” we hear from ToI’s opinion editor Miriam Herschlag about why she keeps muttering “amen” on her evening jogs in Jerusalem, and from Ann Bar-Dov on her epic journey to pick up groceries in Israel’s northern town of Karmiel.
Three moms of a total of 16 children talk parenting under coronavirus
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Between the three Jewish mothers, they parent 16 kids, raising them in a variety of locations and educational frameworks, but all with an emphasis on Jewish education.