For the first time in the country’s history, the Israeli Prime Minister was unable to form a government. Today, the deadline for Benjamin Netanyahu to form the ruling coalition has expired. The Knesset, with 74 votes in favor and 45 against, voted for self-dissolution. Repeat elections will be held on September 17th.
The main reason for Netanyahu’s failure was the refusal of Avigdor Lieberman, leader of Our Home Israel Party, to join the coalition with the ruling Likud. In the April elections, Netanyahu’s party won 35 of the 120 seats in the Knesset, just as much as its main opponent, Benny Gantz, who heads Kahol Lavan. However, to form the Cabinet, it was necessary to find partners.
Religious parties of Israel are ready to enter into a coalition with Netanyahu, like Shas and Yahadut ha-Torah, as well as the centrist Kulanu party. But for the majority they need the support of the Lieberman party. Former Secretary of Defense has repeatedly entered the government under Netanyahu. But this time, Lieberman refuses to support him, because he does not agree with the course advocated by factions representing the interests of religious Jews.
Lieberman is a native of Moldavia, and for his party “Our Home is Israel”, mostly immigrants from the Soviet Union vote. He intends to make Israel a more secular country and is in favor of adopting a law on the call-up of ultra-orthodox Jews for military service. For the conservative allies, Netanyahu is nonsense. They believe that the main purpose of life for men is to study the Scripture, and women in general should not be allowed into military service.
In addition to these differences, Netanyahu and Lieberman also have differences in foreign policy. Lieberman is a hardliner on the Palestinian issue. He left the post of defense minister when Prime Minister Netanyahu negotiated a truce with the Islamic Resistance (Hamas) in Gaza. The head of the defense ministry called this move “short-term peace,” which in the long run can be costly for Israel’s security.
Israeli Prime Minister accused his former minister that he was specifically “dragging” the country to re-election in order to earn more seats in the Knesset.
“Theft of democracy”
The conflict between Likud and Our Home Israel can benefit Netanyahu’s main opponent in the April vote, Beni Ganz and his Kahol-Lavan. This party represents the interests of liberal circles and is focused on solving social problems. One of the leaders of Kakhol-Lavan and former Finance Minister Yair Lapid is outraged by the decision of the Knesset to convene new elections. According to him, if Likud fails to form a ruling coalition, such a chance must be given to the opposition. Lapid called the new election “theft of democracy.”
The Washington Post newspaper dubbed the new vote “unprecedented.” According to one of the largest American media, it is detrimental to the initiative promoted by Washington to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“Kushner’s Plan ” stalled
Today, Trump’s son-in-law and the Middle East’s main adviser, Jared Kushner, and President’s special envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, flew to Israel. Before that, they visited Morocco and Jordan. June 25-26, the United States is preparing to hold a conference in Bahrain, which will announce a plan for solving the Palestinian problem. It involves financial investments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The money, according to Kouchner, should be allocated by Arab countries.
Despite their differences, Saudi Arabia and Qatar agreed to jointly participate in the conference in Manama. The reconciliation of the two Sunni monarchies is extremely important in order to give the United States Palestinian initiative “Arab” legitimacy. Tomorrow will be a rehearsal of the Sunni consolidation of Palestine. On May 31, two extraordinary summits will be held in Mecca – the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Persian Gulf (GCC). In 2017, the United States managed to embroil its allies in the Persian Gulf. Then Trump blamed Qatar for financing terrorism. But today, under the guise of the Iranian threat, the head of the White House again unites them for the interests of Israel.