Israel Likely Headed for Third Round of Elections

Israel is likely headed for a third round of elections. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted rival Benny Gantz at a rally two-weeks ago over the latter’s efforts to form a minority government backed by the Arab Joint List alliance. The Joint List Alliance is made up of Arab-Israeli lawmakers. Netanyahu condemned Gantz for negotiating with “terror supporting” politicians during “Operation Black Belt” against the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group. “I tell you that if such a minority government is formed, they’ll celebrate in Tehran, Ramallah, and they’ll celebrate in Gaza — just like they celebrate after every terror attack,” Netanyahu said. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Avigdor Liberman continues to remain kingmaker, with neither Likud nor Blue and White able to obtain enough support to form ruling coalition without the support of Liberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu. A recent document shows that Yisrael Beiteinu has a heavy secularist agenda which includes secular marriage for Israelis, easier conversion to Judaism and public transport on Shabbat. Right-wing parties oppose these changes. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Gantz attempted to counter Netanyahu’s rhetoric by addressing Arab members of the Knesset directly. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Gantz also called upon Netanyahu to retract his “ugly, dangerous performance of hypocrisy, incitement and lies against Arab lawmakers.” Avigdor Liberman weighed in, saying that a minority government that included Arab lawmakers “would be a disaster.” Netanyahu called the situation an “emergency” and said that “It is a fateful moment in the history of the State of Israel.” Reported by i24 News. Read more…

A last minute effort between Likud and Blue and White to reach a unity government also failed. Following the meeting, Gantz said that “Some principles and values can’t be given up.” Gantz said that despite being unable to reach an agreement with Netanyahu, he would continue to try and form a new government. Liberman has said that he will not form a government with either Netanyahu or Gantz. Reported by Breaking Israel News. Read more…

As the deadline neared for Gantz to form a government, Netanyahu called on him to form a unity government between Likud and Blue and White. Saying it “was not too late” and that “I think we must not drag this country into a third election,” Netanyahu tried to drive a wedge between Gantz and running mate Yair Lapid, saying, “What magic has he [Lapid] cast on you? Finally do the right thing and come for a unity government.” Reported by i24 News. Read more…

As the final hours of Gantz’s mandate waned, Liberman blamed both Netanyahu and Gantz for failing to form a unity government. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Meanwhile, Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin rebuked Netanyahu and right-wing politicians for making “ugly statements” about Israel’s Arab politicians, saying such statements “undermine the legitimacy” of their community. In a written statement Rivlin admonished them that as Israel is a democratic state, it “must ensure equality of rights and respectful and meaningful discourse with all Israelis.” Reported by i24 News. Read more…

As expected, Gantz’s deadline expired without him being able to form a new government. Barring some last minute change, Israelis will now move to a third round of elections, something that has never happened in the country’s history. Gantz’s failure does not automatically trigger elections, as there is a 21-day period in which the Knesset can nominate someone to be Israel’s prime minister. Gantz blamed his failure to form a new government on politicians loyal to Netanyahu, who he says put the “best interest of one person” first. Reported by The Guardian. Read more…

One Israeli lawmaker, Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of the Knesset, hosted talks between Likud and Blue and White to try to bring about a compromise and form a unity government. Blue and White, however, refuses to sit in a government with Netanyahu as prime minister so long as he remains under indictment (Netanyahu was indicted on corruption charges on November 21, 2019). Prior to the meeting, Gantz stated that the Israeli public had voted for a unity government led by Blue and White. While he stated that Netanyahu was not disqualified from politics while under indictment, he said that Netanyahu had first to win his legal battle before he could return to the political arena. Reported by i24 News. Read more…

Despite the political turmoil within Israel, Gantz vowed a united front on Israel’s security issues. He stated that there are no ‘coalitions or opposition’ when it comes to keeping Israeli citizens safe. Reported by i24 News. Read more…