Ahead of Israel’s third election cycle in less than a year, Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Hillel Newman cast his vote early in the Israeli election.
During a phone interview with the Journal after the vote, Newman said 105 of 140 local Israeli diplomats and civil servants who are eligible to vote early in the election, voted on Feb. 19 at the consulate’s office in West Los Angeles.
The high percentage of people who voted “shows very big interest in the voting,” Newman said, “even though it’s the third election.”
Newman predicted a similar outcome to the previous two elections, saying there would not be a “clear-cut result” in the forthcoming election, scheduled for March 2.
In the past two elections, neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party or the opposition Blue and White Party, led by Benny Gantz, emerged with enough seats to form a governing coalition (minimum 61 seats) in Israel’s 120-seat parliament.
Nevertheless, Newman pointed to a recent interview with Israeli leader Avigdor Lieberman, who, Newman said, has guaranteed there won’t be a fourth election.
The election comes at a pivotal time for Israel, Newman said. The consul general pointed to the continued threat from Hamas and Hezbollah and Israel’s improved relationships with several Middle East countries, which will factor into what will happen with President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled “deal of the century” peace plan, Newman said.
The deal’s success will require a “pact between Israel and the Arab world,” he said.
The question of who leads Israel going forward is of utmost importance, Newman said.
“We’re taking about a new era,” Newman said. “This needs a strong and stable government to move forward.”
Adding another wrinkle to Israel’s complicated political landscape: Netanyahu’s criminal trial on corruption charges is slated to begin March 17.