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.

Read more at Times of Israel

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


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria