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Netanyahu Scored a Historic Win. Here’s What to Expect Next.

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Unread 04.12.19, 09:37 PM
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Netanyahu Scored a Historic Win. Here’s What to Expect Next.

On 04.12.19 10:06 AM posted by James Phillips

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clinched yet anothervictory in Israel’s elections on Tuesday, winning a historic fifth term inoffice that could soon make him the longest-serving prime minister in Israel’shistory.

Netanyahu withstood a major challenge from politicalnewcomer Benny Gantz, a retired general who had served as chief of the general staffof the Israel Defense Forces. Israeli polls had indicated that Gantz had gaineda slight lead in recent weeks, but the final vote count showed that Netanyahu madea final sprint to victory.

Gantz concededdefeat after concluding that he had little hope of winning thebacking of a majority in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset.

Although his centrist Blue and White party won 35 seats, an impressive number for a new party, Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party won 36. Gantz acknowledged that the superior performance of other right-wing parties relative to Israel’s moribund leftist parties gave Netanyahu a much better chance of assembling a ruling coalition, which requires at least 61 seats.

The election was billed as a referendum on Netanyahu’s leadership. If that was the case, then Netanyahu passed with flying colors by adding six seats to Likud’s previous 30-seat total.*This was Likud’s best showing since 2003, when it won 38 seats under the leadership of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The media focus on the race between Netanyahu andGantz obscured the fact that popular support for Israel’s leftist parties hascontinued to erode.In particular, the Labor Party, which dominated Israeli politics from 1948 to1977, garnered only six seats, down from 18 seats in the last elections.

WhatHappens Next?

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin next week will appointthe party leader that he determines has the best chance of cobbling together amajority in the Knesset.

Netanyahu is certain to be appointed. Likud and itsnatural partners on the right are projected to control 65 seats, while Gantz couldpotentially attract the support of 55 at most (including 10 seats from Arabpolitical parties that have never joined governing coalitions).

Once appointed, Netanyahu would have 28 days toassemble a ruling coalition containing at least 61 Knesset members, with apossible two-week extension if necessary.

This will require extensive negotiations with otherpolitical parties over policy issues, Cabinet positions, and politicalappointments. Particularly noteworthy will be the appointment of the defenseminister, traditionally considered the most important slot after the primeminister.

Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the secularnationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, is known to want to return as defenseminister, but his resignation last November due to disagreements overNetanyahu’s Gaza policy may lead Netanyahu to deny him that position.

Assembling the new coalition government will take manydays, if not weeks, of hard negotiations. But the next administration should beup and running by mid-May.

By mid-summer, Netanyahu will become Israel’slongest-serving prime minister, surpassing David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s foundingfather.

NotAll Is Certain

Netanyahu’s fifth term may become one of his shortest,however, as he faces three possible indictments on corruptioncharges. Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced inFebruary that he intends to indict the prime minister on charges of bribery,fraud, and breach of trust related to three different investigations.

Netanyahu has strenuously denied the charges, which hehas denounced as a “witch hunt.”

Netanyahu is entitled to a hearing to refute the charges. If the case proceeds, he wouldbecome the first Israeli prime minister to be indicted while in office. He isnot required to resign if indicted, but only if convicted.

Netanyahu enjoys strong support from Likud, as well asother conservative, nationalist, and religious parties. Despite his resoundingpolitical victory, it remains to be seen if he can withstand the potentiallycareer-ending charges he soon may face in court.

The post Netanyahu Scored a Historic Win. Here’s What to Expect Next. appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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