Corruption and Confusion Embroils in Israel’s Recent Election
For the past couple of weeks, Israelis have woken up uncertain about the future of their government and who will become the Prime Minister. Recent elections have rocked the country after elections revealed a close race between two of the more major parties, the Blue and White Party and the Likud Party, according to BBC News. The Blue and White Party gained 33 seats while the governing Likud Party garnered 31. For a candidate to become Prime Minister, they must build a simple majority of 61 seats in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
The two top candidates vying for the job are incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former military chief Benjamin Gantz. Because no party received a majority of the votes, the next step to form a government will fall to President Reuven Rivlin, who must appoint somebody to form a unity coalition of various parties to secure a majority of seats. In the past few days, President Rivlin appointed Benjamin Netanyahu to form the government, says Haaretz.
However, this does not mean that the uncertainty is over. Israel’s Basic Law on Government declares that whoever the President picks to form the government will have 28 days to do so with a possible extension of 14 additional days. If a government has not been formed by then or the Knesset holds a vote of no confidence against the person tasked with the job, the President may appoint another member of the Knesset to form the government. Any time during these proceedings, the member tasked may tell the President that he/she is unable to form a government, potentially leading to another general election.
Israelis are especially worried about this possibility, as Netanyahu informed other ministers that unless Benjamin Gantz’s Blue and White Party agrees to work with him, he will inform the President within a week that he is unable to make a government. This move, intended to put pressure on his opponents, could weaken Netanyahu’s position or cause him to lose his role entirely. Along with the uncertainty this could bring, different leaders of the Blue and White Party are disputing over whether or not to work with Netanyahu, according to Haaretz.
If Prime Minister Netanyahu cannot build a government, Israelis could be heading back to the polls for the third time this year. The stakes are particularly high for the Prime Minister, as he is currently facing indictment for three cases of corruption, according to NPR. Netanyahu has been attempting to secure assurances from allies that he could be given immunity or a pardon of some kind. If he were to be kicked out of his party, as some have called for, he would lose the chance to evade charges. Currently, two bills are waiting to be voted on that would give him immunity while in office, according to Quartz.
While the feeling among Israelis is one of confusion, many Palestinians are feeling disenfranchised by either side. Netanyahu, in his bid to be reelected, promised to annex up to one-third of the occupied West Bank in an attempt to appeal to his right-wing base of supporters, according to The New York Times.
This has been repeatedly promised for years, without any significant action. With the uncertainty caused by many similar promises over the years, some Palestinians are calling for a one-state solution, according to Raja Shehadeh, a Palestinian lawyer who expressed his opinion to The New York Times. He states that “Palestinians see no prospect in this election.”