As Israelis Go to the Polls, There’s Little Reason to Expect a Conclusive Result

Today Israel holds its third election in twelve months’ time, after the two 2019 elections failed to deliver decisive results. Yet the various surveys of voter opinion taken in the past several weeks uniformly suggest that neither the Likud party (led by Benjamin Netanyahu) nor the centrist Blue and White party (led by the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz) will win a decisive victory or have a clear path to forming a majority coalition in the Knesset. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

[W]hile it’s true that some Knesset seats shifted around as some voters reconsidered their options [between the April and September 2019 elections], what is more surprising . . . was the loyalty exhibited by the vast majority of voters—and the unexpected staying power of Blue and White.

Barring a shift in turnout or an unexpected run on the polls at just the right polling stations, Netanyahu still is unlikely to be able to form a majority coalition with only right-wing and ḥaredi parties, and Avigdor Liberman [of the right-wing, secularist Yisrael Beytenu party] is less likely to join his coalition today than before. The two men have a long and mostly unpleasant shared history, and Liberman knows that his party’s recent political growth comes from voters who prefer Blue and White to a Likud government.

That reality has shaped Monday’s race. It is no longer about all-out victory. Assuming neither faction suddenly implodes, . . . the fight has shifted to defining the post-vote narrative. If victory no longer comes in a single ballot-box sweep, it must be sought in slow, grinding attrition of one’s opponents.

It should surprise no one, then, that both parties and both campaigns have already begun preparing for round four.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Avigdor Liberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2020, Israeli politics


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security