The minefield of Israeli politics and Greece’s area of interest

by Antonis D. Papagiannidis

All who will stay on watch over the first two weeks of June for disruptions in Greece’s  own area of interest have already one more issue to worry about. Is the post-Netanyahu era already there in Israel – and what are the consequences for the region? In case one has short memory, the main concern ahead was to be what will happen (of interest to the region, especially so concerning the Greek-Turkish set of disputes) in the NATO Summit of June 14; with the EU Summit of June 25-26 to follow close on its step with EU-Turkey relations as high on the agenda as other disruptions will allow.

Under “other disruptions” one would clearly tend to rank highly the Gaza strip clash of Israel with Hamas, over which Ankara took clearly (even aggressively) sides with the latter.

So, what will happen once the peculiar coalition/right-wing Government of (centrist/moderate) Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party along with (resolutely nationalist) Naftali Bennett’s Yamina one removes the entrenched Netanyahu/Likud 12-year rule (based all along on an alliance with ultra-Orthodox parties)? Provided, of course, that the support of a small Arab/Israeli party (Ra’ma) along with the much slimmed-down historic Labor Party and social-democrat/Green Meretz will pull through, within a fortnight, the necessary vote of confidence at the Knesset.

Whether the conservative reflexes of Naftali Bennett can keep Labor and Meretz in line to support e.g. West Bank settlements when they both adhere to the (internationally-backed) two-states solution, as well as how the Ra’am position will lend its support to the new coalition only in case a vote of non-confidence surfaces at the Knesset, is not an easy thing to comprehend for anybody not steeped in Israeli politics. The main issue, now, seems to be the desire to dislodge Bibi Netanyahu from power – notwithstanding the fact his Likud party will still be a formidable opponent in opposition, provided the Lapid/Bennett coalition successfully crosses the finish line.

But we have been digressing on the minefield of Israeli politics. The main issue for the future of relations (even more so, for the “strategic alliances” we are fond of as of lately) with Israel is how a Prime Ministership of Bennett (for the first two years, Lapid to succeed him after that) will play out. The Foreign Ministry would go to Yair Lapid for this first period. Unofficial/media as well as official sources are profuse with assurances – Yossi Amrani, Israel’s quite active Ambassador in Athens following on the steps of Irit Ben-Abba – that the Israeli position over regional alliances will in no way shift in any important way. Still, personalities always play a significant role in such situations; so Nikos Dendias will have to be quick in his fact to explore intentions and reflexes of Yair Lapid in security matters – as well as on the whole East Med energy situation (the new coalition seems to be greener that the previous one). To watch closely.