Israel's historic (and fractious) post-Bibi government

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett

After four elections in two years, Israel is finally on the brink of forming a new government. But for the first time in 12 years it won't be headed by someone named Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.

The new power-sharing coalition is likely to be one of the most ideologically-diverse in the country's history. How, after years of dysfunction and deadlock, did we get here, and how might this new government shape Israeli politics and policymaking?


Background. For weeks, Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party (There is a Future) has been trying to cobble together enough seats to form a coalition government that would end Prime Minister Netanyahu's long running grip on power.

That process has seen the emergence of a new kingmaker: Naftali Bennett of the rightwing Yamina party (New Right) whose seven Knesset seats Lapid needed in order to reach the 61 seat threshold required to form a government. In order to secure Netanyahu's defeat, Lapid agreed to let Bennett serve as prime minister, while he will head the foreign ministry. Come 2023, they will switch roles, according to the terms of the agreement.

The fractious coalition will now be a ragtag of eight political parties that span the ideological spectrum: it will likely include Raam, an Arab Islamist party focused on boosting funding to Arab-Israeli communities, as well as right and left wing factions. The only thing that truly unites these groups, though, is a desire to sideline Benjamin Netanyahu. Interestingly, some of these politicians, including Bennett, are former Bibi protégés who learnt the ropes from the politically-seasoned incumbent himself.

But so much for what they are all against — what are they for? Once in power, the prospective coalition will face a host of issues that could threaten its survival.

Reforming the judiciary. Netanyahu has long been accused of trying to erode trust in the judicial branch as part of an ongoing effort to scuttle the corruption case he's currently facing. The fact that currently the Attorney General, handpicked by the PM, both advises the government while also overseeing investigations (including the one into Netanyahu himself) has created concerns about a conflict of interest. Gideon Sa'ar, a Likud defector who is likely to head the incoming justice ministry, has been pushing hard for a law that would address this by splitting the Attorney General role in two. However, left-wing parties in the prospective government have reportedly voiced opposition to this reform, saying that politicians should leave the independent judiciary alone. Sa'ar will have to compromise.

Immigration. Tens of thousands of African migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, have entered Israel over the past decade, making immigration a hot button issue. Yamina's Ayelet Sheked, an anti-immigration hawk and close ally of Bennett, is likely to head the ministry of interior, giving her the immigration portfolio. Shaked, for her part, has previously tried to push the "law against infiltration" — a harsh bill aiming to discourage certain types of migration to Israel. Israel's supreme court has deemed some of these measures unconstitutional.

While Shaked may struggle to get the coalition government's pro-immigration faction — which includes the left-leaning Labor and Meretz parties — to sign-off on her proposal, as head of the interior, she could tighten already-stringent rules on asylum applications. (Haaretz recently reported on Israel's diplomatic ploy to return African migrants to "blood-drenched dictatorships" in Africa.)

Infrastructure and the West Bank. Naftali Bennett is unapologetically pro-settlement, having long-advocated for Israel to annex swathes of the occupied West Bank because of these areas' sizable Jewish populations. The previous Likud government, meanwhile, also put infrastructure plans into motion, including new roads linking settlement blocs to major cities.

However, the transportation ministry is now likely to be led by Labor party chairwoman Merav Michaeli, a darling of the left. Michaeli will try to tweak the ministry's infrastructure priorities to focus on areas outside the West Bank, but her agenda could be hamstrung, at least in part, by the pro-settlement wing of the prospective coalition.

Palestinian issue. Not much is likely to change on this front. Lapid, head of the broad "change camp," is a centrist whose views are squarely within the current Jewish Israeli consensus. Lapid says he supports a two-state solution but opposes division of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a future state. Settlements are unlikely to expand under this government, as they have done substantially under Netanyahu, but neither are efforts to advance the moribund peace process.

Meanwhile, on the issue of fighting Hamas in the Gaza Strip, most coalition parties — and most Jewish Israelis — are aligned: a poll recently showed that 72 percent of Israelis supported their government's response to the Hamas rocket fire.

What's next for Bibi? When this coalition takes power, Bibi will likely remain leader of Israel's largest political party, and will head the opposition in the Knesset, even as he continues to face corruption charges that could eventually send him to jail. In the meantime, there's no reason to think Bibi won't do everything in his power to undermine the power-sharing government by trying to exploit differences within the ideologically-diverse coalition. If he succeeds, that would precipitate another election that could return him to the PM's seat.

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

In 2019, Ethiopia's fresh Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted a Nobel Peace Prize for his role in brokering a peace treaty with neighbor and longtime foe Eritrea. At the time, Abiy was hailed by the Western media as a reformist who was steering Ethiopia, long dominated by ethnic strife and dictatorial rule, into a new democratic era.

But barely two years later, Abiy stands accused of overseeing a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the northern Tigray region, putting the country on the brink of civil war.

It's against this backdrop that Ethiopians will head to the polls on June 21 for a parliamentary election now regarded as a referendum on Abiy's leadership. But will the vote be free and fair, and will the outcome actually reflect the will of the people? Most analysts say the answer is a resounding "no" on both fronts.

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Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, for instance, which is shut out from COVAX due to US sanctions imposed on the Maduro regime.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power — following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars — in a bid to exert its superpower bonafides.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Cyber issues took center stage at the G7 summit. Is there a consensus among world leaders on how to handle cyberweapons?

Well, depending on who is included, there is a growing consensus that the escalations of conflict in cyberspace must stop. And G7 leaders that are now all representing democracies did call on Russia to hold perpetrators of cybercrime that operate from within its borders to account. So, I guess hope dies last because laws in Russia prevents the extradition of suspects to the US, even if Vladimir Putin answered positively when Joe Biden asked for cooperation on that front. And when it comes to limiting the spread of tools that are used for hacking, surveillance and infiltration, the EU has just moved ahead and adopted new dual use regulations which reflect the concerns for human rights violations when journalists are targeted the way that Jamal Khashoggi was. So ending the proliferation of systems that are used to attack would be an urgent but also obvious step for democratic nations to agree on.

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Frequently called Europe's last dictator, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Lukashenko has sailed smoothly to victory in all six elections he's stood in, despite widespread corruption and fraud in each one. But in 2020 the biggest threat so far to Lukashenko's tight grip on government came in an unlikely package—a former schoolteacher and stay at home mom, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. After the election result was finalized, Lukashenko claimed victory, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets, and Tsikhanouskaya leads the opposition in exile. Lukashenko recently took his boldest move yet, diverting a plane en route from Greece to Lithuania to arrest another Belarusian dissident. Ian Bremmer discusses whether a democratic transition is remotely possible in Belarus on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The fight for democracy in Europe's last dictatorship

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