Israel’s Early Elections
Netanyahu has blown up his coalition government:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday made the dramatic move of firing Economics Minister and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid as well as Justice Minister and Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, spelling the end of the coalition government.
The move comes on the heels of a failed meeting between Netanyahu and Lapid on Monday night, in which the two were unable to salvage the coalition that has been rocked by numerous tensions, prime among them in recent weeks the Jewish State Law that would enshrine Israel’s status as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
The coalition has reportedly broken up over a number of issues, including criticism by coalition members of the government’s settlement construction in East Jerusalem and its handling of relations with the U.S. Netanyahu has governed in a way that made it impossible for the coalition to survive, but now that it is finished Netanyahu stands to benefit. Perversely, Likud will gain seats in early elections, so the demise of the coalition government will probably end up putting Netanyahu in an even stronger position domestically. J.J. Goldberg writes:
The latest opinion poll, published Sunday by Haaretz, showed that if elections were held today for a new Knesset, Likud would rise from 18 seats to 24 in the 120-member body, while Yesh Atid would drop from 19 seats to 11.
The party to the right of Likud, Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home, would rise from 12 to 16. Labor would drop from 15 to 13, Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah from 6 to 4 and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu from 13 to 11 and Shas from 11 to 6.
So the next Israeli government seems likely to be even more dominated by hard-line nationalists and pro-settler politicians than the current one. That’s not entirely surprising, but it is certainly discouraging news. It more or less guarantees that U.S.-Israel relations will continue to worsen over the next two years, and it will keep Netanyahu securely in place for the foreseeable future.