Israeli Elections May Be on Their Way, but Not as Soon as One Might Think

Yesterday the Knesset, elected in April of this year, voted in favor of two separate bills calling for new elections in March. Underlying the vote is the rivalry between the present government’s two major figures: Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud and Benny Gantz of Blue and White. The current coalition agreement stipulates that Netanyahu will serve as prime minister until October 21, at which point Gantz will take the job, but Gantz expects—not without reason—that Netanyahu will find a way out of his side of the bargain. Haviv Rettig Gur explains what is likely to happen next:

The two successful bills [dissolving the Knesset] now go to the Knesset House Committee—where its chairman, Blue and White’s MK Eitan Ginsburg, can delay the legislation for weeks. That is, Gantz and his party voted Wednesday for legislation he can now freeze indefinitely. If Ginsburg lets the legislation out of committee, it returns to the plenum for a first reading, and must again win a majority of votes before heading to the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, where it will pass out of opposition control and into the hands of the Netanyahu-allied United Torah Judaism party, [which] can, like Ginsburg, delay it for additional weeks.

[To] put another way: Blue and White has made the decision this week to announce it is seeking an election. That’s it.

The opposition, and Gantz with it, wants an election as soon as possible, while Netanyahu is struggling in the polls from widespread dissatisfaction with his government’s handling of the pandemic. Netanyahu, meanwhile, wants to delay elections at least until the summer, by which time vaccines should become available to Israelis and he might reasonably expect many of his wayward supporters to return to his camp.

The fight isn’t over whether an election looms; all sides believe it is now inevitable. The fight is over the timing. . . . No matter that the Knesset on Wednesday voted to go back to the polls, it’s a long way yet until election day.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benny Gantz, Israeli politics, Knesset

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism