Israel fails to form new government

Elections will happen in spring if a new government is not formed by Dec. 11

By Mo Juenger | Staff Writer

Above ballots from Israel’s 2019 election are counted. The Israeli Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz failed to form a government before the Nov. 20 deadline. The Knesset will now have until Dec. 11 to form a government.

Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, has a week left to nominate a leader for a third attempt to form a coalition government. 

If members of the Knesset do not nominate this potential new prime minister, a third election will be held next spring after two elections in 2019.

Israeli Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz was given 28 days to form a government after current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  failed to form a coalition in September following a closely contested election dominated by Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party and Gantz’ centrist Blue and White party. However, Gantz failed to meet the Nov. 20 deadline, so now the Knesset has a chance to do so.

The Blue and White party currently holds 33 seats in the Knesset while the Likud holds 32.

“Running an election would be a hassle. When you look at the Knesset, there’s too much tension for anything to happen and problems will arise from it,” first-year political science major Dale Hyde said. “(The Knesset) need(s) to pick a new lawmaker, someone with much better PR.”

Former Israeli Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the secular nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, played a large role in Gantz’s failure to form a government.

Lieberman stated that his party would only support a coalition that unified both Gantz’s and Netanyahu’s parties in a government.

Gantz refused to accept a unified coalition while the Likud party was still headed by Netanyahu because of investigations into allegations of bribery and fraud surrounding the prime minister.

Following Gantz’s failure to form a government, indictments were officially brought forth against Netanyahu on Nov. 21 by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. The indictments allege that Netanyahu accepted more than $260 million in luxury items in exchange for political favors.

Shaul Elovitch, former majority shareholder of telecommunications company Bezeq, has also been indicted in connection to the charges facing Netanyahu.

The most prominent of the indictments alleges that Netanyahu, acting as minister of communications, attempted to force a merger benefitting Elovitch in return for positive coverage in one of Bezeq’s media subsidiaries. Both Netanyahu and Elovitch have denied all allegations against them through personal attorney statements. Israeli law allows an indicted prime minister to remain in office until a verdict is reached.

It is currently unclear as to whether that law will allow Netanyahu to propose a new coalition if a third election is held, prompting many to believe that the issue will be brought to Israel’s Supreme Court.

“It’s interesting how he can still operate even when indicted. The Supreme Court seems like the most reasonable option to appease the majority of the population,” Hyde noted.

Some students believe that a third election will be the most effective way to appease citizens and politicians.

“He’s facing these allegations that he’s taking bribes. He should not be trusted to try to form a government,” senior biology major Mackenzie Turner said. “Their best option is to go into the third election. It gives them a better chance of getting a candidate who isn’t corrupt.”

The Knesset has until Dec. 11 to decide if a new leader will be permitted to attempt to form a government.