Last week, Israelis went to the polling stations. Again. And the recurrence might not stop there.
Why a new election and what is at stake?
Last April, a general election was held to elect the 120 members of the Knesset (the unicameral body of Israel). But without any coalition emerging, and therefore no majority supporting a (new) Prime Minister, the Israelis had to vote again last week. By calling this new election, the outgoing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hoped to gain an extra seat, the one he needed to secure a 61-seat majority coalition.
What is the outcome?
All this new election has brought is uncertainty. The results don’t really differ from six months ago. No party, in the newly elected Knesset, is in a position to constitute a dominant Government with its former allies. Netanyahu’s Likud Party (31 seats) is toe-to-toe with the liberal-centrist Blue and White party (33 seats), which both conceded a couple of seats to the Arab Joint-list (13 seats) and to the secular nationalist Yisrael Beiteiny Party (8 seats). It seems that calling this new election was actually a bad move for Likud’s leader who hoped he would win over Benny Grantz, the Blue and White party leader, but ended up making his party lose up to 7 seats and their prime position in the Knesset.
What is to be expected now?
The Arab Joint-list and Yisrael Beiteiny Party now have the influence to actually choose the next Prime Minister of Israel. If the Arab Joint-list announced to endorse Grantz as a Prime Minister, this is not what Avigdor Lieberman, Yisrael Beiteiny Party’s leader, intends to do. The one who very probably won some extra seats because he turned his back on the departing Prime Minister, said that he won’t endorse neither his former ally Netanyahu, nor Grantz.
In his quest for power, Netanyahu might have lost himself and his allies, tired of being repeatedly lied to. It sure gives the impression that Netanyahu’s reign has come to an end. Yet, one might wonder, if his successor will be up to the challenge of mollifying the unpredictable American ruler and the Russian monocrat.
Tough negotiations are ahead of the Israeli politicians. It seems that nothing has changed since they left the negotiations based on April’s results. The country looks as if it has reached a dead-end. A third election might, unfortunately, happen…
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