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Israel to Dissolve Knesset: Can Netanyahu Return Amidst the Political Deadlock?

Unless he can gather enough support before the floor vote, Israel will have its fifth election in the past 3 years.

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Explainers
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Israel to Dissolve Knesset: Can Netanyahu Return Amidst the Political Deadlock?
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Israel is going to have another election and that comes as a surprise to no one.

The current coalition government announced on Monday, 20 June, that it will dissolve the Knesset, leading to the fifth election in the past three years.

The 120-member Knesset passed the initial bill for dissolution on Wednesday with a vote of 110-0.

"We have a country that needs running‚" Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a televised joint statement with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Until a new prime minister emerges from the new election, Lapid will serve as the interim prime minister.

And, one man might be making a political comeback – Benjamin Netanyahu.

So, how did we get here? Why is the government collapsing? What are the scenarios we may end up seeing?

Israel to Dissolve Knesset: Can Netanyahu Return Amidst the Political Deadlock?

  1. 1. How the Political Crisis Began

    It all started over a piece of legislation that would extend (renew) legal protections for Israeli settlers in the West Bank, occupied by Israel, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations, and the UN Security Council.

    Two weeks ago, the first reading of the bill failed to pass, throwing the Knesset into a political crisis.

    It was struck down by a 58-52 margin.

    The interesting thing is that some right-wing factions of the Knesset, who on any given day, promote a settlement scheme like the one proposed by the bill, refused to lend support.

    The bill was a pretty straightforward one. Since the occupation of the Palestinian territories that began after the 1967 Six-Day War, the Knesset has renewed every five years the right of thousands of Jewish settlers to live in the West Bank with Israeli citizenship, albeit in breach of international law.

    The expiration of the legislation, as Bennet explained on live TV, would have caused "damage to Israel’s security and ensuing chaos that I cannot allow."

    On the other hand, the dissolution of the Knesset means that West Bank law would be automatically renewed.

    "What we need to do today is go back to the concept of Israeli unity. Not to let dark forces tear us apart from within," Yair Lapid said in his televised statement.

    And the Knesset is far from united.

    Expand
  2. 2. The Ideological Diversity of the Ruling Coalition

    The governing coalition consists of eight parties:

    • Yesh Atid

    • Blue and White

    • Yamina

    • Labor Party

    • Yisrael Beiteinu

    • New Hope

    • Meretz

    • United Arab List

    This is not very shocking as no party in the 120-member Knesset ever won a majority by itself with at least 61 seats.

    The ruling alliances have usually consisted of 8-12 parties representing the interests of specific groups. For instance, the Yesh Atid is Yair Lapid's party which claims to represent the secular middle class.

    A collapse in the ruling coalition of the country was expected by many since three members, including two from Bennett’s party, Yamina, defected recently, thereby taking away the government's majority and consequently the power to pass legislation.

    Bennett and Lapid have mentioned that they have "exhausted options to stabilise" a government that came together last year with one main purpose: the overthrow of the then Prime Minister Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu.

    If you take Bibi away from the equation, there is not much left to unite a coalition that is filled with left-wing supporters of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and right-wing promoters of what many call Jewish settler colonialism.

    For the first time in the history of Israel, an Arab party, known as the United Arab List, became a part of a coalition government in March 2021.

    Expand
  3. 3. The Looming Shadow of Benjamin Netanyahu

    The political events of this past week in Israel mean that Benjamin Netanyahu, belonging to the Likud party, who is currently the leader of the opposition, can return to power.

    In April 2020, Netanyahu had formed an "emergency" coalition government with Benny Gantz, considered to be his main rival at the time.

    That alliance, however, lasted for only seven months, given that the coalition failed to pass the budget in the Knesset.

    Elections were held in March 2021 and Netanyahu's party emerged as the single-largest party with 30 seats. But he could not gather enough support for a coalition, and Lapid's party, with 17 seats, emerged as the largest party that formed the governing coalition.

    Now, even that coalition has fallen apart. Netanyahu has to win enough defectors to form a majority when the floor vote takes place.

    If he can't, then the country will head to elections in October, the fifth one in the past three years. That election is likely to be a contest between Netanyahu and Lapid.

    Most polls currently say that Netanyahu's Likud will be the single-largest party, but none say that it will gain a majority with at least 61 seats.

    The question, which applies to Lapid as well, is that if his party gets the most seats, can he stitch up a stable coalition, or will we see another political deadlock?

    Given the ongoing investigation into alleged bribery and fraud against Netanyahu, who has also been indicted regarding the same, many politicians in the Israeli right-wing have grown disenchanted with him.

    For example, Gideon Sa’ar, who heads the rightwing party called New Hope, said on the radio yesterday, "I won’t be bringing [Netanyahu] back."

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

How the Political Crisis Began

It all started over a piece of legislation that would extend (renew) legal protections for Israeli settlers in the West Bank, occupied by Israel, according to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nations, and the UN Security Council.

Two weeks ago, the first reading of the bill failed to pass, throwing the Knesset into a political crisis.

It was struck down by a 58-52 margin.

The interesting thing is that some right-wing factions of the Knesset, who on any given day, promote a settlement scheme like the one proposed by the bill, refused to lend support.

The bill was a pretty straightforward one. Since the occupation of the Palestinian territories that began after the 1967 Six-Day War, the Knesset has renewed every five years the right of thousands of Jewish settlers to live in the West Bank with Israeli citizenship, albeit in breach of international law.

The expiration of the legislation, as Bennet explained on live TV, would have caused "damage to Israel’s security and ensuing chaos that I cannot allow."

On the other hand, the dissolution of the Knesset means that West Bank law would be automatically renewed.

"What we need to do today is go back to the concept of Israeli unity. Not to let dark forces tear us apart from within," Yair Lapid said in his televised statement.

And the Knesset is far from united.

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The Ideological Diversity of the Ruling Coalition

The governing coalition consists of eight parties:

  • Yesh Atid

  • Blue and White

  • Yamina

  • Labor Party

  • Yisrael Beiteinu

  • New Hope

  • Meretz

  • United Arab List

This is not very shocking as no party in the 120-member Knesset ever won a majority by itself with at least 61 seats.

The ruling alliances have usually consisted of 8-12 parties representing the interests of specific groups. For instance, the Yesh Atid is Yair Lapid's party which claims to represent the secular middle class.

A collapse in the ruling coalition of the country was expected by many since three members, including two from Bennett’s party, Yamina, defected recently, thereby taking away the government's majority and consequently the power to pass legislation.

Bennett and Lapid have mentioned that they have "exhausted options to stabilise" a government that came together last year with one main purpose: the overthrow of the then Prime Minister Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu.

If you take Bibi away from the equation, there is not much left to unite a coalition that is filled with left-wing supporters of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and right-wing promoters of what many call Jewish settler colonialism.

For the first time in the history of Israel, an Arab party, known as the United Arab List, became a part of a coalition government in March 2021.

The Looming Shadow of Benjamin Netanyahu

The political events of this past week in Israel mean that Benjamin Netanyahu, belonging to the Likud party, who is currently the leader of the opposition, can return to power.

In April 2020, Netanyahu had formed an "emergency" coalition government with Benny Gantz, considered to be his main rival at the time.

That alliance, however, lasted for only seven months, given that the coalition failed to pass the budget in the Knesset.

Elections were held in March 2021 and Netanyahu's party emerged as the single-largest party with 30 seats. But he could not gather enough support for a coalition, and Lapid's party, with 17 seats, emerged as the largest party that formed the governing coalition.

Now, even that coalition has fallen apart. Netanyahu has to win enough defectors to form a majority when the floor vote takes place.

If he can't, then the country will head to elections in October, the fifth one in the past three years. That election is likely to be a contest between Netanyahu and Lapid.

Most polls currently say that Netanyahu's Likud will be the single-largest party, but none say that it will gain a majority with at least 61 seats.

The question, which applies to Lapid as well, is that if his party gets the most seats, can he stitch up a stable coalition, or will we see another political deadlock?

Given the ongoing investigation into alleged bribery and fraud against Netanyahu, who has also been indicted regarding the same, many politicians in the Israeli right-wing have grown disenchanted with him.

For example, Gideon Sa’ar, who heads the rightwing party called New Hope, said on the radio yesterday, "I won’t be bringing [Netanyahu] back."

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Edited By :Ahamad Fuwad
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