Israeli Elections Upcoming in March

Israel’s unity government collapsed Wednesday, December 23, setting up new elections for the fourth time in under two years. The government collapsed after it failed to pass a budget by midnight Tuesday. The Knesset’s failure to pass a budget resulted in the automatic dissolution by law of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s unity government. The unity government lasted only seven months before its collapse. New elections will occur March 23, 2021. And, unlike prior elections where Netanyahu faced challenges from left wing and centrist politicians, this time around he is likely to face a challenger from within the right wing. The most likely challengers are his former protégé Gideon Sa’ar, who bolted the Likud weeks ago to form the New Hope party, and Naftali Bennet, leader of the Yamina party. Reported by Fox News Read more… Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… The collapse was not without its share of drama. A last-minute bill on Monday that would have averted the dissolution of the Knesset by extending the deadline to pass a budget failed to pass. Four MKs, one from the Likud and three from the Blue and White parties were not present when their names were called. Likud MK Sharren Haskel and Blue and White MKs Asaf Zamir, Miki Haimovich, and Ram Shefa initially were absent. Likud MK Michal Shir showed up late before voting against the bill. Shir then announced she was leaving the Likud to join Sa’ar’s New Hope party. Shefer also arrived late and voted against the bill. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Blue and White leader Benny Gantz ejected Zamir and Haimovich from the Blue and White for their actions. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Right-wing lawmakers from Sa’ar’s New Hope party vowed last week they would not join a coalition with Netanyahu following the March elections. Ze’ev Elkin said the party wouldn’t join because Netanyahu’s “personal interests are guiding his decisions … and that makes it dangerous.” Continuing, Elkin said, “Netanyahu feels persecuted, he suspects everyone, the atmosphere is one of a cult of personality … of flattery. This is precisely what we want to change.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Meanwhile, protests continue against Netanyahu. Protests outside the prime minister’s home have continued for 27 weeks now. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Benny Gantz’s star may also be fading as dissent reigns in the ranks of his Blue and White party. Current polls show the party will take only 5-6 seats in a new election, and three top Blue and White MKs—Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, and Science and Technology Minister Izhar Shay—have decided they will not remain with the party. Blue and White picked up 33 seats in the March 2020 election. Gantz has also burned his bridges with the centrist Yesh Atid-Telem party, led by former Gantz allies Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon. Gantz reneged on a promise not to sit in a government led by Netanyahu. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… The crisis within Blue and White led Gantz to confer with his party colleagues over the weekend. Gantz will reportedly make a decision about his political future over the coming days. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Amid the political turmoil, Israel’s Covid-19 crisis continues to worsen. Israel will be entering a third lockdown beginning Sunday, December 27. The lockdown will last for two weeks. There is an option to extend the lockdown, and health officials have already said it will likely be extended. New cases of the virus are now exceeding 3,000 daily. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… As the country enters lockdown, Jerusalem’s hospitals are near to capacity with Covid-19 patients. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… On Christmas day, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the acting head of Israel’s Health Ministry’s public health services, told Israel’s Channel 12 news that Israel aimed to begin vaccinating the public within 7-10 days. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that he sought to reach a vaccination rate of 150,000 people a day within a week, and to have vaccinated over 2 million Israelis by the end of January 2021. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…