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The Media Line: Here We Go Again: Israel’s 5th Election on the Horizon

Here We Go Again: Israels 5th Election on the Horizon

As the government moves to dissolve the Knesset, sending thecountry back to the polls, experts believe the result will bepolitical deadlock, again

By Debbie Mohnblatt/The Media Line

On Wednesday, the Israeli parliament voted to dissolve itself, inthe first of four readings that the bill needs to become law.

The process is expected to conclude on Monday, or perhaps aday or two later, after which the Foreign Minister Yair Lapidwill become caretaker prime minister until an election is heldand a new government is formed.

The expected election which will be the country’s fifth in threeand a half years.

On Monday evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett andForeign Minister Yair Lapid announced they would begin theprocess of dissolving the Knesset. They did so to preempt theopposition, which they expected to bring down the governmentnext week.

Professor Jonathan Rynhold, head of the Department of PoliticalStudies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, toldThe Media Line the results of the election that will be held at theend of October or the beginning of November are expected to bevery similar to those of the last one held in March 2021.

Eyal Lewin, chairman of the Department of MultidisciplinaryStudies at Ariel University, explained that the participation ratein Israeli elections is always high and that therefore, theoutcome won’t be very different from the last four elections.

Israelis, he told The Media Line, “will go to vote just like theprevious times. Israelis vote, they care about the results. Andbecause Israelis are going to vote, and also voted during the lastrounds, the chances of any meaningful change are very small.”

The election could produce several possible scenarios.

According to Rynhold, the most likely outcome is that no partywill manage to form a coalition with the majority of theparliament, as is needed to form a government.

If that happens, he added, either Lapid will continue as primeminister and there will be another election or former PrimeMinister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party will force him tostep down as its candidate for the premiership.

In that case, a center/right-wing government will be formed,probably led by Likud, and Lapid and his Yesh Atid party willbe part of it, explained Rynhold.

However, he believes the chances of his party turning onNetanyahu out are low. “It is by no means certain the Likudwould displace Netanyahu; therefore, an election would bepossible,” continued Rynhold.

Another scenario would see Netanyahu, the religious parties, and the far-right parties get 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset and form a government. “I think that is the second most likely outcome,” Rynhold said.

Lastly, Lapid might manage to form a government similar to thecurrent one, based on the same coalition.

As for Bennett, Lewin believes his only chance to be re-elected is to leave Yamina and join another party.

He lost his base the moment he formed an alliance withMansour Abbas, chairman of the Islamist Ra’am party, Lewinsaid. “So his voters won’t vote for him. His only chance to getvoted in is if he joins with somebody else.”

Lewin said that Bennett can’t run like he did the last time, “him,[Interior Minister Ayelet] Shaked and another two or three[candidates in their own party], because they won’t be in theKnesset.”

Rynhold added that even though Bennett is “politically burned”right now, he is not out of the game.

“I think that for the time being, Bennett is ‘burned’ politically.But many people have come back from being burned in Israelipolitics, including Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon. So just becausehe’s burned now, it doesn’t mean he’s out,” he continued.

Lapid, on the other hand, heads to the election in a much bettersituation.

“It’s always an advantage to be on the horse when you’re in therace,” said Lewin, referring to Lapid assuming the caretakerprime minister role until a new government is formed.

“It’s a great advantage because people get used to seeing him asa prime minister, to seeing him as a leader,” he added.

Netanyahu, who is seeking a third stretch as prime minister,evokes conflicting emotions among Israelis.

There is no general Israeli opinion about Netanyahu, saidRynhold. “Israel is divided. The ideological Right, the ultra-Orthodox and Likud loyalists love Netanyahu, and the rest of thecountry hates him,” he added.

Rynhold explained that Netanyahu’s chances of forming agovernment depend on the turnout, “particularly the turnout inthe Arab sector.” The higher that turnout, the worse it is forNetanyahu, and the better it is for Lapid and the coalitionpartners in the current government, he explained.

The last possibility, one that Bennett wants to prevent bydissolving the Knesset as quickly as possible, is for agovernment headed by Netanyahu to be formed without anelection.

However, Rynhold believes the chances for that to happen arevery low.

To do that, he explained, Netanyahu would need 61 votes for a“constructive no-confidence vote.”

“I don’t see the Arab parties giving him [the votes he needs toreach] 61, and I don’t see anyone in the [current] coalition withenough lawmakers giving him 61 either,” Rynhold said.

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