Benjamin Netanyahu has served the State of Israel for several decades, most recently as Prime Minister. He is the longest serving PM in Israel’s history, standing as a key international leader of our time. In many ways, Mr. Netanyahu has done a superb job. We believe God raised him up to lead our country, speak prophetically to the nations, and serve His Kingdom purposes. We have prayed much for him and continue to pray, knowing he is the target of global enemy forces, both natural and supernatural. He desperately needs the blessing of heaven.
The past 16 months of Mr. Netanyhu’s tenure have proven highly problematic. During this time he has struggled to lead a caretaker government because he has been unable to successfully secure a majority coalition through three consecutive elections. As a result, Israel is racing into unchartered political territory while trying to navigate its way through a Covid pandemic and possible economic collapse. In this race, an interim government agreement between Netanyahu and his contender Benny Gantz, was signed on April 20.
Fourteen pages long, the “Coalition Agreement for the Establishment of an Emergency National Unity Government” stands in sharp contrast to the United States Constitution. The latter sets forth the world’s model of democracy, and in its unamended form, is about 9 pages long. Compare the length and detail of the two documents, and you will have some sense of why it has taken the parties 16 months to reach a compromise. The coalition agreement is devoted to complex legalese intended to ensure that neither of these rivals-turned-partners can trick the other out of the prime ministership.
On March 26, after more than a year of insisting he would not be part of a Netanyahu government, Mr. Gantz suddenly announced a reversal of his position. He explained to his shocked constituency that the combination of the Covid crisis and threats to Israeli democracy necessitated atypical decisions and actions. Gantz said that if his about-face marked the end of his brief political career, he would know that it was because he’d chosen to put Israel’s interests ahead of his own ambitions.
What are some key aspects of the “Coalition Agreement for the Establishment of an Emergency National Unity Government”? For the first six months, the coalition is to focus almost entirely on tackling the pandemic. During the “emergency” period, which Gantz and Netanyahu can extend in three-month increments by mutual agreement, no legislation can be advanced that does not either contend with the Covid emergency or is not approved by both men. This means that for the duration of the emergency period, each leader has a veto on legislative initiatives. There is one exception: Annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria, which Netanyahu may try to advance after July 1.
It would be naïve to think the upcoming several months in Israel will not be filled with political maneuvering and contention. Sadly, we cannot view the novel arrangement as a genuine “unity” government at all, even though it is touted as such by some.
During the initial six month period, when Netanyahu serves as Prime Minister, Israel’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on a series of court petitions challenging whether he can actually serve as PM. If the Supreme Court rules against him, the agreement is filled with conditions and loopholes that could trigger a dismissal of the government, including the Knesset. These clauses are intended to put pressure on the strongly leftist Supreme Court, which could then be viewed as responsible for a government collapse.
To legally implement the agreement, and through marathon sessions, the Knesset is undertaking to make significant changes to Israel’s “Basic Laws”. The Basic Laws serve effectively as Israel’s Constitution. Therefore, this undertaking raises all manner of legal, ethical and democratic concerns. Bear in mind the sole purpose of this endeavor is to render legal the otherwise potentially illegal coalition agreement.
PM Netanyahu hopes he has achieved the least bad arrangement in the event the Supreme Court attempts to seal his fate, through a formula that ensures Israel moves automatically to new elections if he is disqualified during the new government’s first six months. However, the Knesset will not be presented with the coalition agreement until after Independence Day (April 29), at which time it will have less than one week to discuss, modify and ratify the convoluted terms of the proposed, new government. If it does not ratify the agreement, then by law the Knesset must dissolve and new elections must be held. Netanyahu could possibly delay things to let the clock run out on the agreement, and essentially on Gantz, then take the country to a fourth election. The polls now show him far stronger now than in any of the previous three election cycles.
Netanyahu might believe he could win a subsequent election, given that Gantz is far less electable these days, and his opposition is now weakened. But Gantz is apparently hoping that Netanyahu would not be so bold as to perpetrate an act of political sabotage of such magnitude at this critical time.
Ironically, the new coalition deal is essentially the same, equal power-sharing arrangement proposed by President Rivlin after September’s elections, before Netanyahu was indicted. Rivlin could not persuade the rivals to accept it back then. But today’s combination of a pandemic, threat of economic collapse, Gantz’s disillusionment with the seemingly endless political fight, and Netanyahu’s fear of the Supreme Court, have apparently convinced them otherwise.
The protracted agreement attempts to detail every conceivable aspect of power sharing, committee membership, responsibilities, safety valves, and the parties’ pet projects. It basically establishes a two bloc government, or two governments within one, practically ensuring a legislative battle over every issue — not between the majority and the opposition, but within the majority. The government’s most basic structures and most powerful committees — such as the security cabinet, which has the power to declare war, or the ministerial legislation committee — are divided between the blocs, with each bloc holding an equal number of members. Put all that together — the division of all things by “blocs,” the mutual vetoes, the compliance mechanisms each has tried to impose on the other, the policy chaos that is likely to ensue — and the “dis-unity” character of our supposed unity government is all too clear. Many fear that Israel’s 35th government will be overwhelmed from the start by the same mutual suspicion and petty politicking that drove the political deadlock that has already existed for over a year.
Here is how Gantz’s former ally – turned – rival, Yair Lapid, characterized the agreement:
“Three weeks of negotiations and they talked about rotation [of the prime ministership], about jobs, about another official residence [for the acting prime minister] at the taxpayers’ expense. Instead of fighting the coronavirus, they’re fighting the Supreme Court. Instead of a compensation mechanism to save small businesses, they’re saving Netanyahu from his legal troubles.” (Times of Israel, April 21, 2020)
He accused this agreement of representing an “unconditional surrender” to the ultra-Orthodox as well.
Is this government a house built upon sand, which is likely to fall when storms come its way?
We continue in fervent prayer for a government that God would raise up. Intercessors here are praying according to Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not see it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” We are petitioning heaven for a new thing to spring up, a government founded on righteousness and justice, not infected with pervasive corruption and globalist agendas. While the new coalition agreement does not reflect such a “new thing” yet, we will persevere until God makes a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland!
“I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4) This passage tells us why we must pray for our governing authorities. Many believers are familiar with and understand the importance of praying for our leaders according to verse 1. But often we do not continue on to the whole passage through verse 4. As a result, we forget that prayer for those in authority is directly tied to the harvest of souls.
We are desperately crying out for God to expose truth from deception and raise up a new breed of political leadership through which He can achieve His purposes for the sake of the harvest He desires in Israel. We do not know for sure who those “new breed” leaders will be. Perhaps He will do a new thing in the hearts of some of our existing, older leaders, transforming them into men and women who rightly fear and honor Him. Perhaps He will bring out from the shadows a younger generation who will help pave the way for the next phase of His prophetic restoration of Israel. Perhaps both generations will work together—for His glory. His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Thank you for praying for the peace of Jerusalem, the seat of our national government. Let those who love and pray for Israel find encouragement in Paul’s admonition: “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:19) Friends, the season of harvest is approaching!