In the fourth major election in two years, Israel’s acting Knesset is set to dissolve with new elections in March after the acting “emergency” coalition failed to agree on the terms for a new national budget on Wednesday.
Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s acting peer for the current “emergency” coalition government established in March 2020, is unlikely to challenge the Prime Minister in 2021 as the Defense Minister’s Blue and White party is unlikely to raise enough votes to maintain their current seats and or even eligibility to remain in the Knesset.
As the Blue and White party continues to move downhill, several right-wing parties are gaining traction, posing a formidable challenge to Netanyahu’s bid for reelection.
Gideon Sa’ar, a former member of Netanyahu’s Likud party who left last week to form his own right-leaning party, “New Hope,” is aiming to challenge the long standing PM in the March elections. While sharing the Prime Minister’s views on Palestine and Jewish settlements, Sa’ar foremost goal of the “New Hope” party is to replace Netanyahu’s seat as the current PM.
In another public move bringing momentum to the upstart party, a long standing minister of Likud suddenly defected to “New Hope”, accusing Netanyahu of placing his own interests ahead of the country.
Additionally, the leader of an another right-leaning party Yamina, Naftali Bennet, announced his candidacy for Prime Minister on Wednesday, which will create a possible majority opposing coalition to Netanyahu in March.
“Netanyahu has accomplishments, but when we needed him the most, he wasn’t there for us,’ said Bennett. Israel owed him thanks for his years of service, said Bennett, ‘but we must move on,’ ” wrote the Algemeiner.
On track to face a resumed investigation in February, Netanyahu has been accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, all of which Netanyahu has outright denied.
Critics have accused the PM of staving off a vote on the national budget to trigger elections in an effort to remain in power while simultaneously seeing out his trial. Netanyahu has labeled the accusations as nothing more than a “witch hunt.”
“The objective is to depose a strong, right-wing prime minister, and thus remove the nationalist camp from the leadership of the country for many years,” Netanyahu said to NBC News.
The March major elections could bring the most right-leaning Knesset in all of Israeli history, however this force could see a future without Netanyahu as opposition parties to Likud form coalitions and upstart groups such as the “New Hope” party gain traction.
“Were Sa’ar to join forces with Naftali Bennett’s right-wing/Orthodox Yamina, Avigdor Liberman’s right-wing/secular Yisrael Beytenu, and Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid, they could make it impossible for Netanyahu to build a majority. But only if Sa’ar can sustain his fresh-faced momentum,” reported Times of Israel.
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