If Benjamin Netanyahu fails to form a governing coalition by October 24, President Reuven Rivlin will have to choose between granting him a two-week extension or, more likely, giving Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party a chance to form a coalition. As of last week, coalition negotiations had stalled, but in the past few days several parties began making conciliatory gestures. Vivian Bercovici explains why:
[T]he deliverance from the present national stasis may have come in the form of White House chaos. Donald Trump’s recent decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria has plunged the region into a new round of volatility and chaos. . . . Trump’s erratic conduct seems to have jolted Israeli leadership into a more wakeful state of mind, and catalyzed discussions around the possibility of a unity coalition being formed imminently.
The jarringly abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria and the ensuing mayhem present a critical security challenge to Israel. Suddenly, . . . we heard grudging rumblings: that Blue and White will sit with Likud under Netanyahu’s leadership and “hold its nose”; that the ultra-Orthodox parties are even grumbling along the same lines and may sit with Blue and White and Avigdor Liberman’s [right wing, but staunchly secularist] Yisrael Beytenu.
There are now reports of further discussion to cobble together a quick governing coalition in order that the country may function, primarily because of the increasingly volatile and deteriorating regional security situation. The “compromise” being discussed is that there will be no legislation considered on matters of religion and state, in effect putting on ice, for the meantime, the root of the ongoing political impasse. However, . . . Benny Gantz dismissed the buzz as meaningless chatter.
Events in Syria and the region nonetheless may [still] stave off the surreal possibility of a third election in one year. The state needs a functioning government, and that imperative is more fundamental and important than any leader or party.