February 17, 2019

Israel's Center-Left Dilemma

“I cannot remember a general election in which the political scene looked as fuzzy as it does today. The only thing that seems almost certain is that unless the Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit reaches a decision to indict Benjamin Netanyahu before the general elections on April 9, Netanyahu, as leader of the largest party in the Knesset, will probably be the one to be called upon by the president of the state to try to form Israel’s 35th government.

That is a depressing thought to everyone in the Center-Left.

Whether Netanyahu will be able to form a right-wing-religious government is not at all certain. The right-wing and religious parties (excluding the Likud) are in a rather fluid condition, and it is not clear whether all of them will manage to get through the 3.25% qualifying threshold. It is not certain whether United Torah Judaism will run together with Shas, and thus save Shas from failing to pass the qualifying threshold. It is not certain how Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s new party will fare; whether Bayit Yehudi will manage to recover, or will revert to the worst days of the National Religious Party; whether former Shas leader Eli Yishai will revive his coalition with various Kahanist splinter parties, and if he does, how this coalition will fare (in the 2015 elections it failed to pass the qualifying threshold. It is also not clear whether Yisrael Beytenu will survive (the irony is that it was Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman who insisted on the qualifying threshold being raised – in order to harm the Arab parties).”

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