Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting to form a new government amidst right wing infighting. Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman broke from the coalition over debates on a bill that would require the ultra-orthodox, or Haredim, community to meet military conscription quotas. Simply, Netanyahu is looking to make a few changes before he would agree to pass the bill and Liberman doesn’t want a single markup.
“I expect the good of the country to overcome any other interest. There is still time. We can still come to our senses,” said Netanyahu on television.
The disagreement pushed Avigdor Liberman to leave Netanyahu’s coalition. In order to form a coalition in the Knesset, Netanyahu must obtain 61 seats. Liberman’s latest move is making this more difficult for Netanyahu’s right to stay together. Netanyahu’s deadline to form a new government is Wednesday.
Some of what once were Netanyahu’s biggest supporters are now some of his staunchest critics. According to several locals I spoke with, there is a feeling that Netanyahu is working against the potential for a united coalition in an effort to salvage a reputation torn apart by continued attempts to indict him. Some even suggested that it’s Netanyahu’s time to go. However, in a Monday night address, Netanyahu promised to do all he could to bring the coalition together.
What the Israeli press is saying…
According to a recent piece in Haaretz, Netanyahu is under immense pressure arguing, “For the prime minister, the only acceptable option is to form a new government. Anything else, and his party will realize that there is life after him.”
According to the Israel Hayom report, “If the early election bill receives its final passage later this week, it will send the political system into disarray less than two months after Israelis went to the polls.”
The news site pointed to a late Monday vote to hold an early Knesset election on September 17.
According to the Times of Israel, it was a game of “political chicken” between Netanyahu and Liberman. The right-wing coalition is at stake.
According to Arutz Sheva, Likud MKs “lobbied” the Trump administration to help keep the right intact. The news site pointed to a Maariv report saying that Likud asked the White House to pressure Liberman to stand by Netanyahu.
“The officials hoped, Maariv reported, to convince the White House to have a senior administration official call Liberman and emphasize the importance of Israel forming a new government now and avoiding repeat elections.”
What does this mean for the U.S./Israel relationship?
President Trump reacted on twitter Monday saying, “Hoping things will work out with Israel’s coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever. A lot more to do!”
Hoping things will work out with Israel's coalition formation and Bibi and I can continue to make the alliance between America and Israel stronger than ever. A lot more to do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2019
Netanyahu also responded on twitter, where he explained, “There is no reason to go to repeated and costly choices and to overthrow the right government. I brought a solution for recruiting the Haredim according to the requirements and numbers of the “L” and according to all the terms of the recruitment law. We must realize the public’s will and establish the right government!”
The coalition breakup comes at a key point in time for the Trump administration. The White House is expected to unveil its official Middle East Peace plan soon. Before that happens, President Trump’s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner is traveling throughout the Middle East this week to introduce the plan to officials in Morocco, Jordan, and Israel.