Israel Elects Benjamin Netanyahu. Or Maybe Not

Israel (re)Election 2019: He was about to begin a historic fifth term when after seven weeks of basking in his glorious victory, Netanyahu faced Israeli congress’ decision of dissolving and calling for reelection. Will Netanyahu’s chances to victor continue to be threatened by his failure at bridging the divide between Israel’s religious and secular sects?

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, faced defeat in forming a coalition by just one seat in Israel election 2019. Had Avigdor Lieberman’s party agreed, the PM could have easily won a majority. A 120-seat Knesset – Israeli Parliament – saw Netanyahu winning the 61-seat majority coalition mandatory to form a steady government, but minus one seat. Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beitienu, even after cumulating just five seats in the April election, shook Netanyahu’s chances at forming the majority from the ground up.

Israel will again be put through another round of distressing elections in September 2019, as it enters campaign mode only weeks after Netanyahu’s victory. The scenario will be a first, as the parliamentary elections held since the country’s founding in 1948 always led to the successful formation of a government, except for this time.

A reasonably furious prime minister, on hearing about reelections in September 2019 said, “These are unnecessary and wasteful elections that no one needs and no one wants.” “The people had their say,” he further added.

Mr. Netanyahu’s frustration and the opposition’s contentment with congress’ decision, are two understandable emotions in the current circumstance considering the rigorous fight put up by both sides to clutch power.

What makes the Israeli prime minister’s chance at winning bleaker, is the fact that his previous challenges haven’t disappeared, while others grew along, as observed in the Israel election 2019 results. His Likud Party has managed to win the presidential mandate while simultaneously facing – potential corruption charges, a grueling challenge from Israel military chief Benny Gantz’s new centrist coalition, and Mr. Lapid, the host-turned-politician.

The question – if reelections will give way to a contrary outcome or would the wait actually be unnecessary, as claimed by the Israeli prime minister – remains unanswered till September.

What Went Wrong?

Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition collapse came following his inability to gather the support of the secular and religious parties that were capable of helping him build one. This happened, despite the prime minister’s great deal of hold on his relations with world leaders like US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The opposition certainly had a pretty obvious reason to go ahead with the congress’ decision – another chance at aiming for power. Mr. Netanyahu, on the other hand, lost the chance to start his 5th term despite the Israelis voting in full support.

The reason – Mr. Netanyahu’s only potential support in the congress disagreed upon passing the legislation that force drafts ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military. Thus, it is believed that the PM may manage to win again in September elections (as per the polls), but the divide over a two-state solution might blow his chances.

Mr. Netanyahu may not be able to gain limited immunity from prosecution before a pretrial proceeding in October. And the potential charges of fraud, bribery and breach of trust that follow may expose him to a corruption trial on resuming as a prime minister, post September elections.

Moreover, Netanyahu has been in talks with the US President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about the latter’s peace plan for Israel. A meeting between the two was on the cards, but only after the result for Israel election 2019 came out. Administration officials decided to put discussions over the plan on a backseat during the elections, to prevent it from becoming a ‘political football’ that gets kicked around in the already vigorous political ground of Israel.

Even though Netanyahu emerged as Israel’s longest serving prime minister by exceeding David Ben-Gurion – the country’s founding father – he is also the only one to be surrounded by the most unpredictable and distressing election scenarios of all times.

Could it be over for the prime minister?

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