BLOG 421 February 12, 2019

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

Let’s take a further look beyond where we were last week. The coming Israeli elections on April 9 are the hot topic of the day. I will be leaving this week for Israel and will come back with an even closer look at the situation. All of which also means that I won’t be doing another blog until March 3.

The question that is becoming the pressing issue is how Prime Minister Netanyahu will endure in the battle for the office he now occupies. The current thinking is that Netanyahu will win barring a major upset. Likud (his party) already holds a substantial lead in the Knesset. As reported last week the unknown entity is whether Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit will quickly press charges of corruption against Netanyahu. This dark cloud hangs over Netanyahu’s campaign.

Always heated, Israeli elections have fierce backroom negotiations between the many parties in the country. A major bombshell exploded when Avi Gabbay terminated his partnership with Tzipi Lvini (a former Mossad operative) that killed the Zionist Union party. Livini is now frantically searching for a new alliance. Gabbay’s vindictive treatment of the woman made him look mean and Livini deserving of sympathy. We will see how that goes.

A highly interesting new candidate is retired general Benny Gatz. Looking like a movie star, Gatz is well-known and liked throughout the country. A centrist, Gatz has yet to clarify his exact political position. Some supporters caution him to remain vague, but the anti-Netanyahu element wants him to purpose a center-left position they believe will take the day.

As you may know, Israel has more political parties than Carter has liver pills. New ones are being invented for this election. The Jewish Home party collapsed and came back as the New Right. Gatz’s group invented the Israel Resilience party. Of course, there’s always the religious Zionists and Orthodox Jews groups.

How does all of this play out? Actually, all of these groups will split the vote and that could make the Likud party come out on top with Netanyahu winning.  The proliferation of parties provides power for the Prime Minister. Of course, it is far too early in the game for any sane predictions how the next 60 days will play out, but it’s going to be interesting to watch.

See ya’ when I get back from Jerusalem.

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