April 5, 2021
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST
Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., 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.
ELECTION IN ISRAEL
Chaos continues in Israel following the past week’s election. No outcome now mandates another immediate election. The situation is not good!
The Israeli TV survey opinion poll found widespread dissatisfaction among Israelis with the inconclusive election outcome, with 80 percent of respondents expressing disappointment with the stalemate and predicting a fifth round of elections within two years would be called.
The poll came amid continued political deadlock following last week’s election, which saw neither Netanyahu’s allies nor his rivals muster enough seats to form a coalition. In the absence of a clear winner, Netanyahu’s rivals in the so-called “change bloc” — composed of centrist, right-wing and left-wing parties — were clamoring to muster enough support to form a government instead of the Likud leader, but were split on who should lead such a coalition.
One consequence of the years-long election season is that the line between policy and politics becomes blurred. Netanyahu is notorious for exploiting any election advantage he can find, and, not surprisingly, Israel’s neighbors aren’t especially thrilled playing supporting roles on Netanyahu’s stage. At this time no one is rushing to help Netanyahu’s election campaign.
Sa’ar, a former minister, left Likud in December to form New Hope, with the aim of replacing Netanyahu. Shortly after its formation, New Hope polled as high as 21 seats, but the party steadily shed support to finish with just sixth in last week’s election.
Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid quickly responded to Sa’ar, saying “there is nothing I’m unwilling to consider” to replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister. “I said during the campaign and I say again now: The country is more important than my personal ambitions or anyone else’s,” he wrote on Facebook.
Nearly two-thirds of voters who backed parties seeking to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from power believe his chief rival, Lapid, should stand aside and let Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett be prime minister instead, according to a Channel 13 survey published Wednesday.
With four consecutive elections failing to dent two years of Knesset gridlock, the “only democracy in the Middle East” is giving the rest of the region an up-close view of some of the more painful aspects of putting political power in the hands of the people.
So, where does Israel go from here? The road looks bumpy!