Is Israel on the Way to Early Elections Due to a Coalition Crisis?

by Avi Abelow

Not Clear

The answer is yes and no. Israel is right now experiencing a massive coalition crisis because of one reason. The coalition partners are unsure whether Israeli PM Netanyahu will call for early elections due to the ongoing investigations against him.

So what is going on? Let’s break it down for you.

First of all it is important to understand that Israel’s Government is based on a majority coalition of parties. The party that is able to put together a coalition of 61 plus parliament members then becomes the coalition government. Currently, PM Netanyahu is the Prime Minister because he was able to put together a coalition of parties that has more than sixty one parliament members. However, if any parties leave the coalition, leaving him with less than sixty one coalition members, the government will fall.

Netanyahu’s Legal Woes

Currently, law enforcement and major media outlets in Israel have been leading a witchhunt against the Prime Minister to try to topple him as PM using legal problems. This is because they have been unsuccessful to unseat him at consecutive elections.

The Overall Cultural War

Israel is very much experiencing a cultural war, with PM Netanyahu as the leader of the coalition of parties interested in strengthening Israel’s Jewish identity as a State, including a hold on Judea and Samaria. Unfortunately, the left-leaning voices in Israel want to diminish the Jewish character of the State of Israel and give away as much of Judea and Samaria to our Arab neighbors, even though they have clear intent to destroy Israel.

Currently, the left has been extremely successful in using the legal apparatus of the State to create an extremely hostile environment for Netanyahu. It is amazing that Netanyahu succeeds at leading the country in this atmosphere.  In the midst of extremely challenging security times, Netanyahu also deals with legal woes.

So what do we have so far?

Netanyahu’s coalition partners fear that he himself will call for early elections. Due to this fear, an Ultra-Orthodox party created a coalition crisis to have a bill passed now, before new elections are called for. They fear that if new elections are called, this new bill (regarding the conscription of Ultra-Orthodox men to the Israeli army), which is critical to their constituents, won’t be brought up at all.

The problem is that there is another coalition partner that is not interested in pushing through that bill.

While this crisis is going on, the budget bill also needs to be passed. The Ultra-Orthodox party has threatened to withhold their votes on the crucial budget bill. In the case that they withhold their votes on the budget bill the government would then fall apart and new elections would be called.

And that is how the current coalition crisis was born.

What is Going on Now?

At the moment, Israel is witnessing marathon moves by various coalition parties to try to end the crisis. Trying to end the threat of the government falling, and continuing on with the government as is.

The irony is that all the coalition partners are relatively happy with the current government. Yet they all fear potential changes with new elections.

As PM Netanyahu has said often “you know how you enter elections, but you never know the result of those elections”.

The Conundrum

One might think that this is an easy problem to solve. All the coalition partners prefer to remain in the current government. Then why is the coaliiton crisis so hard to solve?

The magic answer? None of the partners know what Netanyahu thinks. They all fear that even after this coalition crisis, problems will continue. That Netanyahu still might call for new elections in the near future.

Bottom line, even though Netanyahu feels that he can overcome the legal woes, nobody knows what he wants. Does he prefer to keep his current government? Or does he plan to use the element of surprise to call for new elections?

It seems that the ultimate fate of the current government all depends upon Prime Minister Netanyahu. How much does he really wants to keep this government?

Key quotes from Netanyahu

Netanyahu: I call on Defense Minster Liberman to remain in government
‘It is important to continue our partnership in a broad government – only this can continue to serve Israel’s citizens.’

“Our government is an excellent government, and it brings tremendous achievements to Israel: in the security, economic and political spheres,” Netanyahu said.

“It is therefore important to continue our partnership that brings these tremendous achievements.

“I call on all the coalition partners, headed by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, to remain in the government and continue this partnership in order to ensure security, prosperity and stability for the State of Israel,” Netanyahu added.

Netanyahu stressed that “we face great challenges – and we all know of them – as well as great opportunities, so it is important to continue our partnership in a broad government – only [such a government] can continue to serve the citizens of Israel.”

Key Quotes from Jewish Home Leader Bennet

“There is not only a fake crisis here, but fake leadership that prefers chasing polls to telling the truth,” Education Minister Bennett, of the Jewish Home Party, said of Defense Minister Liberman and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid.

“Ultra-Orthodox recruitment has grown every year, in ten years we have grown tenfold, from less than three hundred to three thousand, which means that we are heading in the right direction,” added Bennett.

However, the Education Minister made it clear that he was happy about Netanyahu’s efforts to solve the crisis. “We are backing the prime minister’s efforts,” he said.

“I call on all the heads of the coalition – let’s be leaders, and we will continue to be a good national government,” added the education minister.

Key Quotes from Defense Minister Liberman

“I don’t understand why an Ultra-Orthodox or an Arab can’t contribute. If they don’t serve in the army, they can spend those three years helping in nursing homes. We will all vote against this law.”

Defense Minister Liberman also emphasized that despite their opposition to the law, his party members would not leave the coalition of their own volition.   He would not step down from his post as Defense Minister. He did say, however, that if Aliyah and Integration Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu) were to be fired from her post as punishment for opposing the law, his party would quit the coalition.

Hebrew video analysis on the coalition crisis:

High Holidays

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