Netanyahu Poised to Be Elected for Third Time as Prime Minister

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Politics in the state of Israel has never been more complex. One coalition is held together by the slimmest of reeds: opposition to one man — Benjamin Netanyahu. It’s a collection of liberal, conservative, and Arab parties that was formed primarily to defeat Netanyahu last year with Yair Lapid as its leader.

Some oppose the two-time former prime minister for his alleged corruption. Others blanch at his policies in the Palestinian territories. But because the only real unifying factor for the opposition is hatred of Netanyahu, the governing coalition lasted only a few months.

Netanyahu’s Likud coalition is a mish-mash of ultra-conservative religious parties and conservatives. Polls show that neither Netanyahu nor Lapid will have a majority that will allow them to form a government, although Netanyahu has demonstrated skill in the past at constructing a coalition government.

This will be the fifth election in three years in Israel, and even the heartiest political junkie has to be feeling a little overwhelmed.

” … And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Netanyahu has campaigned against the last government, the first in Israel’s history to include an independent Arab party, saying it included members sympathetic to terrorists. The coalition fell apart in under a year as members clashed over policies related to West Bank settlements, Palestinians and questions of religion and state.

With the camps neck and neck, the election is likely to be decided over which side can best increase their voter turnout. Mr. Netanyahu has the advantage, political analysts say, because all four parties in his bloc are slated to comfortably win 3.25% of the vote—a threshold for having seats in Parliament. Votes for parties that get less than 3.25% are discarded.

Three parties in the anti-Netanyahu bloc are hovering near that political danger zone, according to the Israel Hayom poll. If any of them fail to make it into Parliament, Mr. Netanyahu’s bloc would be certain to command a majority.

One politician could be a kingmaker. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz heads the National Unity Party, and polls show they could win 11 or 12 seats. He may parlay that strength to take the lead in a Netanyahu coalition government with rotating leadership. It’s the same arrangement Mr. Lapid had with former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that just recently collapsed.

Or Gantz could remain as defense minister in a Lapid government. Either way he goes, he could hold the whip hand in whatever coalition he decides to join.

Netanyahu’s choices include joining with two of the most controversial parties in Israel led by two men who don’t like the Palestinians very much.

Itamar Ben-Gvir of the radical right Otzma Yehudit party and a follower of Rabbi Kahane and Bezalel Yoel Smotrich of the far-right Religious Zionist Party  could also give Netanyahu victory. But for many Israelis, having either of those two join a coalition with Netanyahu would be a non-starter and would cost the former prime minister votes.

The election is likely to turn on a small number of votes for minor parties. For Netanyahu, it will be chance to take revenge on those who have been trying to destroy him for 20 years.

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