World · June 23, 2022

Is there a way out of Israel’s endless election cycle?

Editor’s Note: A version of this story first appeared in CNN’s Middle East Meanwhile newsletter, a three-times-a-week look at the region’s top stories. Sign up here.


Jerusalem
CNN

A little over a year has passed since a shared desire to oust Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister united eight disparate political parties to form the most diverse coalition in Israeli history. They have succeeded, but it may be short-lived.

As the Israeli public waits for the parliament, the Knesset, to be dissolved next week and for Yair Lapid to become interim prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters celebrated.

A fifth electoral round in less than four years will likely take place in the fall. And while Netanyahu is in the midst of witnessing an ongoing bribery trial, he could be back in power in a matter of months.

CNN spoke to Yohanan Plesner, a former member of the Knesset (MK) with the now defunct Kadima party, now president of the Israel Democracy Institute, a think tank in Jerusalem, about what might happen next.

What are the next steps? Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s lead coalition partner, Yair Lapid, is guaranteed to become the next prime minister?

If the bill for the dissolution of the Knesset passes, Lapid will automatically become prime minister until a new government is formed after the elections. If the elections are not final and no one is able to form a new government, Lapid’s mandate will continue and the country will revert to another election.

Until the dissolution bill is passed, there is still the possibility that someone else – Netanyahu, for example – may instead form an alternative government in the current Knesset.

When will the elections take place?

Assuming the Knesset votes to dissolve, it will also set an election date. It will have to be after at least ninety days and within five months. The coalition and the opposition usually reach an agreement on the exact date, with the most likely options in late October or early November.

What road does Netanyahu have to return to power? Can he do it without elections?

To return to power without elections, Netanyahu would have to persuade 61 members of the current Knesset to vote in support of a government that would lead him. Given that the six-seat Joint List, mostly Arab-backed, has said it won’t, Netanyahu’s allies should persuade at least seven other members of the current coalition to join them. The party leaders of the current coalition have all declared that they will not and that they would rather go to elections than sit in a government led by Netanyahu.

What are your chances of winning the most seats in the next election?

All polls now indicate that Netanyahu’s Likud party will get the most seats in parliament with around 35 seats in a 120-seat parliament. The Israeli parliamentary system requires that the ruling coalition be supported by at least 61 MPs, so winning the most seats does not in itself guarantee that Netanyahu will return to the Prime Minister’s office. For this to happen, the Likud leader needs other right-wing and religious parties, who support him in the government, to vote strongly. Polls indicate that Netanyahu’s “bloc” is currently on track to receive 58 to 60 seats.

Is there a way out of this endless round of elections in Israel?

On average, Israel has held elections every 2.6 years since 1996. This ongoing crisis will not end until Israeli leaders put aside their political differences and enact long overdue electoral and constitutional reforms, such as any. attempt to initiate early elections dependent on a two-thirds majority in parliament and amending the current law requiring new elections when a budget is not approved.

What is the main cause of this political stalemate?

This perfect storm of political dysfunction is the result of a systematic failure of our electoral system, coupled with the unique situation where a candidate for prime minister is on trial and therefore members of his own political camp will not sit with him in government. It is likely to continue until one party receives a substantial majority in parliament, or Netanyahu decides to take a break from public life until his legal issues are resolved.

Middle Eastern states pressure Biden to work out a strategy to contain Iran

In a visit to Washington earlier this month, Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman expressed concern that the United States had not yet articulated a comprehensive strategy to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the arsenal of ballistic missiles and support for regional militant groups, sources familiar with the discussions told CNN.

  • Background: The US has said the prospects of reaching a nuclear deal with Iran are weak and Middle Eastern officials have said the administration has not yet told its allies what “Plan B” would be if the talks fail. . Sources said the administration said it will maintain economic pressure on Iran and increase sanctions if a deal fails. The United States has also worked to build a regional coalition against Iran, urging the Gulf countries to integrate all their air and missile defense systems against Iranian attacks.
  • Because matterConcerns about potential Iranian escalation have fueled a wider diplomatic shift between Israel and the Gulf countries, leading to normalization agreements with Bahrain and the UAE. The precarious security environment has led Israel to push heavily for Biden to visit Saudi Arabia and meet the Saudi Crown Prince, several officials said.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov on his way to Iran

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was due to arrive in Tehran on Wednesday to discuss the nuclear deal with Iran and the situation in Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry said. The trip would be his first under the administration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

  • Background: The visit will be the latest in a series of trips made by Russian officials to Iran. Last month, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak met with Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji in Tehran to discuss the exchange of supplies for oil and gas, according to Russian news agency TASS.
  • Because matter: The meeting comes as Russia seeks to strengthen ties with traditional allies amid Western sanctions on its economy and energy exports. Russia and Iran, both subject to Western sanctions, sit on some of the largest oil reserves in the world. Russia is also part of the talks Iran is holding with world powers to revive its 2015 nuclear deal.

The Turkish parliament is preparing to discuss the media bill denounced by journalists

Protesters demonstrated on Tuesday in Istanbul against a media bill that the Turkish government says will fight “disinformation,” but which media rights groups claim will double over a years-long crackdown on critical reports.

  • Background: The legislation is one of a series of steps during President Tayyip Erdogan’s two decades in power that have raised concerns among human rights groups over the minority media muzzle where dissent and critical views are still in place. wave. Parliament was due to start debating the bill on Wednesday.
  • Because matter: A major concern among critics of the bill is an article stating that those who spread false information about the country’s security and public order to create fear and disturb public peace will face a prison sentence of one to three. years. The bill would also subject digital media to the same norms as traditional media.

For years, tourists arriving in Lebanon have been accustomed to seeing politically laden tributes to Hezbollah leaders, Lebanese martyrs, and even the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani after leaving Beirut airport. This is no longer the case.

Those billboards on the highway outside the country’s only airport are now being replaced with images of landmarks and tourist hotspots.

The project was born from an idea of ​​the Minister of Tourism Walid Nassar, who in an interview with local media said that the political banners were not appreciated by tourists.

Nassar asked the media teams of Hezbollah and its allies in the Amal movement, “with love and respect”, to grant some of the advertising space around the highway to promote Lebanon’s tourist destinations “at least for the next four months”. he said in an interview with Al Jadeed News this month. Hezbollah complied and new banners appeared late last week.

“I never thought I’d live long enough to see the day Beirut airport could look so Lebanese,” said a Twitter user.

In the throes of economic collapse, the government has tried to put the country back on the tourist map. Federation of Tourism Establishments Secretary General Jean Beiruti told local channel MTV this month that bookings are increasing in mountainous and coastal areas. “We should congratulate ourselves,” he said.

By Muhammad Abdelbary

The number of Syrian refugees returning to their country from Turkey each week. Turkey is home to some 3.7 million Syrians, the largest refugee population in the world, but worsening public sentiment has led the government to work on plans to send them back.

A Palestinian Muslim pilgrim receives a dose of Covid-19 vaccine at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on June 21, as he heads to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.