Don’t be surprised if Benyamin Netanyahu makes a comeback in Israel’s third election in less than 12 months. With all the corruption charges still plaguing him, how can this be possible?
Well, Netanyahu has staked his reputation and his place in history on his stand against Iran, and has done more than any other politician to make the world aware of the malevolent role that Iran plays in the region. So, when Donald Trump took out Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, no one could have been happier than Netanyahu, because Soleimani was Israel’s (and particularly Netanyahu’s) number one foe. Soleimani made it his mission to completely destroy Israel and he had the firepower to be able to carry out his threat. In an instant, Trump changed the whole ball game, and once again America reasserted itself back into Middle Eastern politics, albeit as an unpredictable player. The first to applaud Trump with the loudest applause was Netanyahu, and the relationship between Trump and Netanyahu will no doubt boost Netanyahu’s image as a global leader with influential leaders as his close friends.
The shooting down of the Ukrainian passenger jet and the consequent protests against the regime in Iran, further play into Netanyahu’s hands. As do the visits by Vladimir Putin and Zelensky to Israel for the international Holocaust Conference in Jerusalem.
Back to the elections. Even though intensive jockeying between parties and candidates is taking place, I predict that the results will largely remain the same. As no one party can attain a majority, the contest will be decided by which parties can form the largest blocks. Unless Netanyahu is sentenced, his chances of forming the largest (right wing) block remain the likely outcome and as I indicated above, may be strengthened due to geopolitical events. Some smaller parties, particularly the extreme right wind Otzma-Yehudit party may disappear or agree to compromise by joining with a right-wing block. What is clear, is that although more parties than ever may contest the elections, fewer parties than ever will likely pass the threshold of over 3% and that only eight or so parties may be elected to remain members of the Knesset.
Taking everything into account however, it still looks unrealistic that a right-wing block will gain sufficient seats to form a majority of over 60 seats. With the Arab parties uniting behind the Joint List, they are targeting 15 seats, although likely to gain at least 13 seats, but it is almost unthinkable that they will form part of a coalition government on the left. Maybe after three elections, the two largest parties, Likud and Blue and White, will at last come to their senses, and join in a unity government that represents a broad spectrum of Israeli citizens.
By Esta Levitas, Chairman, SAZF Cape Council
Visit the SA Zionist Federation Cape Council website www.sazfcape.co.za for more information and news.
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