What Netanyahu’s Record-breaking Government Says About His New One

As these words are being written, Benjamin Netanyahu’s fourth government is still running Israel. Whether or not it comes to its end on Sunday with the swearing-in of the new Netanyahu-Gantz government, or it continues for a few more days until Likud gets its act together, it is already by far the longest-serving government in the country’s history, hitting its five-year mark last Thursday.

The only government that ever came close was Golda Meir’s second, which, due to the Yom Kippur War delaying the 1973 election, served for four years and three months.

Netanyahu’s fourth government, 2015-2020 – its life artificially lengthened by three inconclusive elections in its fifth year – will be remembered for what exactly? There were no wars, and no progress was made toward peace either. Economic growth was sustained, at least until the coronavirus hit, but no major social programs were enacted.

No signature policy of any minister in this government had an impact on Israelis’ lives. Even of those who actually tried.

Naftali Bennett as education minister managed to boost the number of high schoolers studying math at the top level, but didn’t have time to make the wider changes he planned in the school system. The most ambitious economic policy of this government – Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s plan to bring housing prices down – was a total failure.

But looking for successful social or economic policies, certainly those initiated by individual ministers, is not the right way to measure this government’s achievements.

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the press prior to meetings at the White House in Washington, January 27, 2020. SAUL LOEB / AFP

More than any of his previous cabinets, Netanyahu’s outgoing one had no real purpose other than to serve as his own personal power platform.