The Israeli Government Lost Its Majority. What Next?

April 8 2022

On Wednesday, the Israeli parliamentarian Idit Silman, a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, quit the governing coalition, which rested on a razor-thin 61-seat majority (out of 120 total). Her defection—ostensibly over regulations regarding Passover observance—highlights the fragility of the current government, which brought together several disparate parties from across the political spectrum, united only in their desire to unseat Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu. Zev Chafets explains:

Bennett has done a good job running his coalition of rivals and gave Israelis a sense at what a more centrist government could look like. But he hasn’t been a particularly popular prime minister. Inexperience was one problem. He was not always good at articulating his policies to the public. And, crucially, he suffered from political blindness: he took his eye off Netanyahu.

On Wednesday, Bibi called on additional members of the ruling coalition to defect and form a new government with him at the head. There is a fair chance this will happen. It’s not only right wingers in Bennett’s anti-Bibi coalition who might be tempted. Ambitious and frustrated centrists (Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s name comes up most often) who could give a new Likud government a wider public base may also wish to join.

If no one else defects, a 60-60 split will paralyze the Knesset (unlike in the U.S. Congress, there is no tie-breaking vote). That would almost certainly lead to a new election in the summer, the fifth in the past four years.

Netanyahu will be the candidate of Likud; polls show him by far the most popular party leader. He faces three indictments on criminal charges of fraud and corruption which rumble on. But those indictments are not looking as solid as the prosecution thought, and even if he is convicted, he could appeal, dragging out the process while staying in office.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politics, Naftali Bennett


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