Israel and a fate marked by uncertainty

In light of the elections, it is clear that the right-wing Likud of Netanyahu is the largest party and has more allies than the disparate rivals lined up against him

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Benny Gantz sit in the Plenum during the swearing-in ceremony, at the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, in Jerusalem April 6, 2021. Alex Kolomoisky/ Pool via REUTERS

For the fourth time, Israel is immersed in an electoral quagmire that obstructs political stability and a government with a well-defined majority.

Vaccination campaign and coalitions

Since the beginning of the election campaign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had understood that the vaccination campaign could become a verse and an instrument of electoral consensus. He managed to get the doses he needed, exploiting the contained geographical and demographic dimension of the country and organising an electoral campaign on a platform of advanced technology and quality health care. It is precisely thanks to the vaccination campaign that Netanyahu managed to confirm himself as the first party in the country with 30 seats and together with Bezalel Smotrich, 41 years old, at the head of the far-right party of religious Zionism he obtained six seats. In total the right-wing coalition of Netanyahu won 52 seats, falling sharply under the required majority of 61 to rule.

On the other hand, a large number of opposition parties intend to remove Netanyahu as "King of Israel". Yair Lapid, 57 years old, former finance minister and television presenter who leads the centre-left party Yesh Atid. His party has reached 17 seats. Naftali Bennett , 48 years old, former assistant to Netanyahu, Minister of Defense and high-tech millionaire at the head of the Yamina party, which reached 7 seats. Gideon Saar, 54 years old, former government minister who left Likud to found the New Hope party, vowing to end the reign of Netanyahu. Like the Likud, his party opposes Palestinian sovereignty. The Saar campaign was focused on clean governance and economic recovery, but it has reached only six seats.

Mansour Abbas, 46 years old, a Palestinian-Israel whose United Arab List party won six seats and shook the political establishment by spreading the idea of working with Netanyahu’s right-wing government to address violence and other social issues in Arab areas.

In light of these results, the level of uncertainty and instability has grown again in the country, with a new stalemate difficult to surmount, particularly since Israeli politics has repeatedly shown its inability to arrive at practical solutions.

International scenario and future possibilities

Although these last elections were triggered by the disintegration of an emergency government formed last May between Netanyahu and its main rival Benny Gantz to manage the coronavirus pandemic, the possibility of creating a new government on this footprint is very remote. It is precisely for this reason that Israel risks once again going to the fifth election within a very short period of time, especially without a change in the voting system which now risks only giving results without any possibility of government. It is precisely this sense of political uncertainty and the possibility of a fifth election by 2021, which today also marks a strong sense of tiredness within the population and in particular in the electorate, both in that of Netanyahu and in that of the opposition forces. And if the possibility of a new election seems to be the only possible action, at the international level the scenario seems to be rather clear. Joe Biden and his administration seem sensitive to the Palestinian question but the most complicated relations continue to be with the United Arab Emirates, especially given how Netanyahu used the Abraham Accords during the election campaign; it is no coincidence that Netanyahu’s visit to the Gulf country on 12 March has not taken place. Relations with Turkey seem to be relaxing. After Israel and Kosovo on 1st February 2021 signed an agreement to open new diplomatic relations with the construction of the Kosovar embassy in Jerusalem, there seems to be a glimmer of hope for Turkey, following the invitation of Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz to participate in the Eastmed Gas Forum.

At the international level and on the vaccination campaign, great opportunities seem to be opening up for Israel, such as the opportunity to work with Turkey in the Eastmed Gas Forum or a strategic alliance against Iran together with the United Arab Emirates, but the internal political context, remains, once again, stalled.

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