Why the Israeli President Denied Benny Gantz’s Request for More Time to Form a Government

April 13 2020

Under most circumstances, the role of Israel’s president is largely symbolic, but the inconclusive results of the most recent election give him a fair amount of discretion in overseeing the selection of a new prime minister. Yesterday, President Reuven Rivlin exercised this discretion when he denied the opposition leader Benny Gantz’s request for a two-week extension of the deadline for negotiating with the other parties to form a government. Rivlin did not, however, choose to give the incumbent prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu a chance to take the lead in cobbling together a coalition. Instead, as of midnight tonight, it is now up to the Knesset as a whole to decide who will be the next prime minister. Gil Hoffman explains Rivlin’s reasoning:

Gantz had lost the support of more than half the Knesset members who recommended he form the government [in the first place]. Netanyahu has a habit of stalling until the last moment in order to squeeze what he can out of any political lemon. [Thus Rivlin] rejected both Gantz and Netanyahu and gave the two of them the firm, drop-dead deadline that politicians really need in order to be forced to make decisions. He turned the spotlight on the two would-be prime ministers and told them: “You make the decision between a unity government and a fourth election during a debilitating pandemic.”

It is obvious what choice the public prefers after more than 100 deaths and 11,000 coronavirus cases. It is debatable whether an election could even be held, even if it is delayed until the latest possible date in September. There are barely enough of the spaceman-like suits to protect medical professionals in Israel. Imagine trying to get enough of those for all the Central Elections Committee secretaries who would be needed to man the more than 10,000 polling stations across the country.

Both [Netanyahu’s] Likud and [Gantz’s] Blue and White admit privately that the other options that have been raised do not really exist. Gantz is not going to pass the anti-Netanyahu legislation that would prevent the prime minister from forming a government, despite threatening for two months to do so. . . . Netanyahu is not going to get two more MKs to join the 59 in his center-right bloc to help him form a government without Blue and White.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli Election 2020, Israeli politics, Reuven Rivlin

 

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine