The Fourth Israeli Elections

For over two years and since April 2019, the ‘Israeli’ political system has been undergoing a state of chaos and instability. On March 23, the ‘Israeli’ voters will be voting for the fourth time in two years only. The Knesset has since held 3 elections but failed to form a government that is supported by the majority and has the ability to assume its duties properly.

In the past two years, the electoral map has changed multiple times, and the active powers in the previous elections differ from the ones joining the current race. Benny Gantz had led the opposition of Netanyahu; and Avigdor Lieberman and Yisrael Beiteinu, his party, were the vote that decided the winner. However, Gantz retreated to the very end and Yair Lapid advanced instead. Now, Naftali Bennett, Yamina leader, is functioning as the decisive factor in the ‘Israeli’ elections.

Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to break apart his rivals through trying to manipulate some internal components and to influence the small parties to either merge or dissolve them in what best serves his interests and control over the electoral scene. Netanyahu’s influence is clear on the right and religious right parties. However, he also has influence on the alliances of his rivals. For example, he played a role in dissolving the Joint Arab List and the Blue and White.

Despite all Netanyahu’s efforts to stay positioned on the top of the occupation’s government, he failed to maintain the unity of the Likud. His own party member Gideon Sa’ar and other extreme Likud leaders became his rivals. Previous allies, such as Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman, who once supported him started politically blackmailing him to achieve their own ambitions of moving up the ladder of the ‘Israeli’ political system to head the government.  

          It is noticeable that in these elections, Naftali Bennett is playing at both ends and blackmailing Netanyahu’s camp and his rivals’, prioritizing Netanyahu. He also refused to take part in a government that is supported by the Arab List. Bennett continues to observe the two camps, and plays his cards in what serves his interests and ambitions to head the ‘Israeli’ government even if by turns.

          Yesh Atid leader is still determined to topple Netanyahu at whatever cost, even if the cost is having the support of or participating with the Joint List according to party member Mickey Levy. Lapid showed his willingness to offer major concessions and ignore his political ambitions through approving any ally to form the government. What matters to him the most is toppling Netanyahu.

The most recent poll results show the following:

Party

Expected no. of seats

Party

Expected no. of seats

Likud

28

Yesh Atid

20

Tikva Hadasha

12

Yamina

11

The Arab Joint List

8

Yisrael Beiteinu

8

Shas

8

The United Torah

6

Labor

6

Blue White

5

Meretz

4

Religious Zionism

4

 

According to these results, Netanyahu and his allies would win 47 seats which could reach 58 if Yamina joins them. The opposition would receive 62 seats if the Joint List is added to them.

Insight of the Situation

  1. The poll results show how fluctuating the public opinion is, and community’s indecisiveness over the elections.
  2. Ra’am, Meretz, the Religious Zionism, and Blue and White continue to live a state of uncertainty to whether be able to pass the threshold or not. These parties may play a decisive role in the coming elections especially that the votes are very close.
  3. Results show strong attraction efforts by all parties, but the results are not conclusive. It may continue that way until the final round.
  4. The elections and parties’ attitudes reflect a state of political expediency as the political parties show willingness to work with or against the ally amidst clear absence of principles and ideologies.

Expected Scenarios

  1. Benjamin Netanyahu wins the needed number of seats and ensures his formation of an alliance that encompasses Bennett or others who quit other parties. This is supported by Netanyahu’s ability to influence the voters, parties and opposition in critical times, and to achieve the desired results with brilliance and wit.
  2. The alliance against Netanyahu maintains the majority of votes, especially that a tie is almost reached in the poll results, and topples Netanyahu. Yair Lapid’s determination to utilize all obstacles and exert all efforts to end Netanyahu is a major factor here.
  3. A dead end is reached, and the competition continues without winning a majority of votes. Ze’ev Elkin mentioned this scenario and the possibility for heading to a fifth round of elections. The close results support this scenario as it would be difficult for one alliance to win the majority of votes. 

It is clear that all scenarios may realize. However, earlier experiences and current conditions have reflected the state of uncertainty that fills the ‘Israeli’ community, and the fierce competition among the components of the political system. All of this indicates the realization of the third scenario and conduct of fifth elections. 

 

Source : PALM Strategic Initiatives Centre