Is Israel Headed Towards a Third Round of Elections?
The Israeli legislative elections are to be held on September 17th, 2019 after Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government in April 2019. Netanyahu was able to secure 60 seats in the Knesset but failed to reach the required number of seats (61) to form a government.
This is due to Yisrael Beitenu party leader Avigdor Lieberman's refusal to vote for the Likud party after his disagreement with Netanyahu regarding the ceasefire on Gaza in 2018. Recent Israeli elections polls have indicated close tie election results for both The Likud and The Blue and White parties, while the future of the next Israeli government remains unclear.
Furthermore, polls show the inability of either party to form a government without needing the support of other parties. The leader of the Likud party, Netanyahu, requires the support of Yisrael Beitenu party, which is affected by previous conflicts over Gaza in 2018, while, the Blue and White party leader, Benny Gantz, also requires the support of the Haredi parties, but the wide ideological gap between them is preventing any coalition.
In the past two years, Netanyahu was able to gain more popularity through his political achievements such as the US’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018. And in May of this year, he annexed the Golan Heights, also through the blessing of the US president in a signed proclamation. And has announced that the Golan Heights, a region internationally recognized as a Syrian territory under Israeli occupation, is now under Israeli sovereignty.
Netanyahu's Reelection and its Effect on the Middle East
At the center of the latest Israel election news, Netanyahu’s reelection as Prime Minister, is expected to have a major effect on the region.
First, there is a high possibility that Netanyahu, in coordination with the Trump Administration, will annex the Jordanian Valley as well as the Northern Dead Sea area, if reelected. A promise Netanyahu made during a campaign rally in Ashdod on Sep. 11th. Netanyahu’s decision allegedly came on the grounds of protecting Israel’s national security, despite it being illegal under international law.
According to a number of Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian political analysts, Netenyahu’s pledge to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley not only will lead to further instabibility in Israel and Palestine, but could also put the Israel-Jordan peace treaty at stake. The Jordanian Valley makes up approximately 30% of the West Bank, and is currently inhabited by 65,000 Palestinians and about 11,000 Israeli settlers.
Second, war with Gaza. After a number of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Southern Israel, mostly during the month of August and the beginning of September, Netanyahu stated that Israel will probably have no choice but to launch a war in the Gaza strip, in an attempt to halt rocket fire at its southern district.
And third, Israel’s operations against Iran-affiliated forces in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq will possibly escalate. As during a meeting with Russian President Valdimir Putin, to discuss security coordination in Syria, Netanyahu stated that Israel must be given free rein to act against Iran.
During the last two months, Israel targeted Iranian elements in Syria with hundreds of strikes in a bid to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence there. Israel even launched several drone attacks against Iran-affiliated Hezbollah in Lebanon in August.
Five Potential Scenarios for the Israeli Election
According to Palestinian and Israeli political analysts and critics, the Israeli presidential elections have several potential scenarios.
The first scenario is, the Likud receive the highest voting in the Israel election, and is able to form a coalition and win a majority in the Knesset.
The second scenario, the Blue and White recieve the highest voting in the elections, and form a coalition.
The third scenario, is the Likud and the Blue and White party tie, in this case President Reuven Rivlin will appoint a prime minister after consulting with party leaders.
The fourth scenario is the Likud winning the elections, but Netenyahu fails to form a coalition again. And in this scenario, Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin would appoint another candidate to form a coalition, or the Likud party would choose another candidate from the party to attempt to form a coalition. If this scenario takes place, the smaller parties can also join the coalition of the Blue and White party instead.
The fifth scenario is no candidate can form a government, and Israel would head to another snap election.
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