Israel is Heading for a Third Round of Elections
Current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political career is still barely hanging on as Israel heads to yet another round of parliamentary elections.
Israeli political leaders were reported Wednesday to have failed once again to reach a compromise on a unity government that is needed to save the country from a third round of elections – two previous elections failed to give any political party a controlling majority in the Israeli parliament, making forming a coalition government a necessity.
Legislators in the Knesset began the process toward holding a new election on March 2, 2020, by voting to dissolve itself on Wednesday. A new election would automatically be called for on March 10, 2020, if final measures for a vote on March 2 do not pass by midnight Wednesday.
The current impasse in the Israeli political system stems from the fact that both the Blue and White party of Benny Gantz and the Likud party of the incumbent prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have reaped almost equal numbers of parliamentary seats during two rounds of elections, since April of this year.
Other minor parties like the eight-seat Israel Baytouna party of former defense minister, Avigdor Liberman, and the thirteen-seat bloc of Arab parties in Israel have refrained from supporting Netanyahu’s efforts for forming a coalition or a power-sharing government.
The other major party, Blue and White of Benny Gantz, is opposed to Netanyahu’s policies and wants to ensure Netanyahu is not granted immunity from pending charges of corruption, brought by the country’s general prosecutor.
Commenting for Citizen Truth over Israel’s political impasse, Hassan Abdo, a Gaza-based political analyst, believed that Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman will not allow any kind of compromise, as he is strongly against any government led by Netanyahu.
“Since the first round of elections in April of this year, through the subsequent elections of September, Liberman has been opposed to Netanyahu’s policies and furthermore, he has wanted the religious right to be detached from the Likud party of Netanyahu,” Abdo noted.
He added that even if a third election is held in March of 2020, it is likely that Netanyahu will not win any additional seats, as Netanyahu is being squeezed on all sides by Lieberman’s opposition, the rejection by Arab parties and a looming indictment.
“Natyahou will likely turn out of the political spectrum in Israel, once and for all,” Abdo added.
A public opinion poll, conducted by Israeli TV Channel 13, found that Blue and White would likely win 37 out of 120 Knesset seats in a new round of elections, while Likud would win 33, possibly allowing Gantz to form a narrow coalition with other center-left parties and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu to reach a 61 seat majority.
A right-wing bloc would likely win only 52 seats, according to the poll. The four-party Arab united front might keep its power with 13 seats and could to vote for a Gantz-led coalition.
Gentz Presses Netanyahu Indictment
Addressing a parliamentary conference early on Wednesday, Benny Gantz accused Netanyahu of planning to abuse his powers and seek parliamentary immunity in order to evade prosecution, ultimately rendering a third election necessary. While Gantz’s Blue and White Party and Netanyahu’s Likud Party have expressed a desire to form a unity government, Netanyahu’s desire to seek immunity has prevented the two parties from forming a joint government.
Gantz said that the immunity laws are “not intended as immunity for Knesset members, but rather a means to enable them to perform their duties. We will work in this Knesset, should it hold up, or in the next Knesset to examine the subject and to deal with it.
“There is no room for immunity, and the immunity law in Israel needs to be adapted and used within the context for which it was intended,” he said.
According to the indictment presented to the Israeli Knesset against Prime Minister Netanyahu, the pending charges include breach of trust, fraud and bribery. Netanyahu has denied all such accusations and accused Israeli police and the state’s prosecutor of attempting to overthrow him via a coup.