The New York Times published an editorial on Saturday warning that Benjamin Netanyahu’s presumed incoming hard-right, ultra-religious government represents a danger to Israel’s democracy.
The piece, titled “The Ideal of Democracy in a Jewish State Is in Jeopardy,” argued that while Netanyahu won the election fairly, the far-reaching power he is offering his far-right and ultra-Orthodox partners creates a real threat to democratic values.
The Times board said it has been a “strong supporter of Israel and a two-state solution” and would remain so, but Netanyahu’s incoming government “is a significant threat to the future of Israel — its direction, its security and even the idea of a Jewish homeland.”
It argues that the new government “marks a qualitative and alarming break with all the other governments in Israel’s 75-year history,” and rejects the assertion that the Netanyahu-led bloc’s 64-56 seat election victory gives it a “broad mandate to make concessions to ultrareligious and ultranationalist parties.”
Saying the incoming government’s positions “could make it militarily and politically impossible for a two-state solution to ever emerge,” the newspaper called on the Biden administration to “do everything it can to express its support for a society governed by equal rights and the rule of law in Israel.
“That would be an act of friendship, consistent with the deep bond between the two nations,” the NYT said.
The piece warned of Netanyahu’s partners, notably far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir.
“The new cabinet [Netanyahu] is forming includes radical far-right parties that have called for, among other things, expanding and legalizing settlements in a way that would effectively render a Palestinian state in the West Bank impossible; changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, an action that risks provoking a new round of Arab-Israeli violence; and undermining the authority of the Israeli Supreme Court, thus freeing the Knesset, the Israeli legislature, to do whatever it wants, with little judicial restraint,” the paper warned.
All these moves “are troubling,” the editorial said, “and America’s leaders should say so.”
Hebrew-language media reports have said Netanyahu on Tuesday will inform President Isaac Herzog that he has put together a government, ahead of a December 21 deadline to negotiate a coalition. However, the prime minister-designate would still have another week after that to actually swear in his coalition.