Israel may be heading for its fifth election in less than four years. This past Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Chancellor Yair Lapid announced that they intend to ask the Knesset to dissolve the House and call a new election, scheduled for the day. of October. In a new chapter of emotions in Israeli politics, what might happen in the coming weeks?
It is important to remind our readers that Israeli politics is a constant presence here in our space and that, when of the current government, in June 2021, we explained what its main banner was: not to be Benjamin Netanyahu. The motivation of the broad front was to remove from power the leader of Likud, the largest right-wing party in the country and the biggest force in parliament.
The record holder for staying in the post of Israeli premier is tried on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and then opponents said that removing him from the post of premier was essential for the investigations to move forward. As a result, a coalition was formed with eight parties, including an Arab party, the green left and two parties of the nationalist right.
A coalition with only one seat of numerical advantage, formed by groups so different and with only one flag in common it would not have a long life, as predicted. As we mentioned before, several right-wing parliamentarians who are part of the government were accused of being traitors, for being part of a coalition with this composition, including Arab parties.
This was the case especially of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, of right-wing nationalist Yamina party and a former ally of Netanyahu. Since the formation of the current government, three Yamina parliamentarians have left the governing coalition. Idit Silman, in April, for political differences; Amichai Chikli, also in April, who was expelled from the party for not voting according to the caucus; most recently, on 13 June, Nir Orbach left Yamina and, according to the Israeli press, can join Likud.
It was not only in its right part that the coalition suffered cracks. Arab-Israeli parliamentarian and diplomat Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, from the left-wing Meretz, also left the government, returning shortly afterwards. With the casualties, today, the government owns only 59 of the 59 seats in the Knesset. The trigger for the dissolution request revolves around the main issues of Israeli policy, security and West Bank settlements.
Settlers in the West Bank
Since the Six Day War in 1967, when the West Bank was occupied by Israel, a law is in force that gives Israeli settlers in the West Bank the same rights as Israeli citizens. Today, there are 475 a thousand settlers and the law is called the Law of Samaria and Judea, the Israeli names for the region. For security reasons, the law needs to be renewed by parliament every five years.
The opposition, made up mainly of Netanyahu’s Likud and the religious right, strongly supports the law. Even so, in a shrewd political maneuver, the opposition voted against the renewal, to expose the government and cause even more friction within Bennett’s coalition. They succeeded, and the law was not initially renewed. If this was not reversed before 30 June, the settlers would lose their legal protection
At the same time, in the event of the Knesset being dissolved, national security laws like this one renew automatically. Naftali Bennett, to avoid being responsible for the loss of legal security of hundreds of thousands of settlers, had no option but to request the dissolution of parliament. According to the coalition agreement, the prime minister will now be Yair Lapid, leader of the largest ruling party, Yesh Atid, which has 17 seats.
Elections and the next crisis
Likud’s political maneuvering eliminates the chances of the existence of a minority government. Today, there are two options. The first of these is the obvious one, the dissolution of the Knesset and new elections. On the one hand, Lapid, leading an anti-Netanyahu campaign, seeking to link the opposition to corruption and further increase his bench and that of his allies. On the other, Netanyahu and his allies on the religious right, on a security agenda.
Today, polls indicate, to no one’s surprise, a Likud victory, increasing its bench, but without necessarily achieving break the deadlock between the two blocks. In this scenario, Netanyahu would have priority in forming a new government. There is also the possibility that Netanyahu will seduce Benny Gantz, the defense minister and leader of Blue and White, to cross the bench. If he manages to do this on time, a new election is avoided and we have a new government within the current Knesset configuration.
In any case, political stability is far from Israel. With a possible new election on the horizon, the next political crisis is also already brewing, with the debate over the appointment of the new Chief of Staff of the armed forces and whether it can be done by an interim government, as it promises to be. We will certainly have more columns on Israeli politics here in our space.