Following the failure of talks on Monday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Israel appears to be headed for an election that none of coalition parties want.
Netanyahu, who is yet to complete the first two years of his third term at the helm, knows he is not guaranteed a fourth term. Lapid, whose party has been shrinking in the polls, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, whose party may not even make it past the increased blocking percentage this time, are certainly not eager for another vote.
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Naftali Bennett, whom the polls say is going to gain significantly in the next election, is nevertheless not eager to run again, before completing even half of his term.
Ironically, it was the current Knesset which passed the “Law of Governance, ” raising the bar before smaller parties looking to get in, in order to facilitate government stability. Turns out the 19th Knesset will come down in history as the second most unstable, after only a year and ten months (the shortest serving was the 4th Knesset, which served one year and nine months).
Actually, barring small parties was one of only two legislative achievement of Netanyahu’s third government, the other one being the new draft law, which many say is a lot less effective and beneficial than the law it replaced. Otherwise this coalition did not produce much.
It did produce a tremendous amount of rancor and infighting, between the diametrically opposed parties headed by Bennett and Livni, over the now defunct peace process. The coalition saw a brief alliance between Bennett’s Religious Zionists and Lapid’s north-Tel Aviv bourgeoisie, an alliance which few expect to return next time around.
It was a government without the ultra-Orthodox parties, which proved to be an effective opposition, certainly more so than the Labor Party which continues to be the sick man of Israeli politics.
On Tuesday, the Likud will support a Knesset vote to disperse, presented by the opposition. Barring a dramatic change, such as the last minute entry of the ultra-Orthodox into government, the Knesset will disperse in one week or less.
It is assumed the election date will be set for March, possibly April.
Over the next few weeks we’ll receive answers to these and afew other questions:
Will Labor absorb Tzipi Livni’s party, and will it grow as a result?
Will Bennett survive the internal rift in his party, which threatens to crack the only viable, right-wing alternative to Netanyahu’s Likkud party?
Will Avigdor Lieberman be able to survive a massive shrinkage of his party, as Russian immigrants are looking elsewhere for their political representation?
Will the popular former Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon be able to forge a new center-right alternative to Netanyahu?
Will the Arab parties disappear from the Knesset due to the raising of the bar, and will that mean a rapid growth for Meretz, or the formation of a new, formidable coalition of Arab politicians?
And, finally, will Benjamin Netanyahu be up to the challenge of becoming the only Israeli prime minister to serve four terms?