Netanyahu Gambles on New Elections

Netanyahu Gambles on New Elections

Israeli voters will go to the polls next year to elect a new government after the coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu collapsed this week. The government fell after internal bickering among the various ministers and party leaders became public. Netanyahu fired his two chief rivals, centrist finance minister Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party, and center-left justice minister Tzipi Livni of the Hatnua party.

Netanyahu’s popularity has dropped dramatically since the war in Gaza over the summer, partly due to its inconclusive end. A string of terror attacks by Palestinians added to public consternation, as did Netanyahu’s effective political response: a bill intended to define Israel as a “Jewish state,” which was criticized even by strong pro-Israel voices abroad. Poor relations with the Obama administration also fueled some criticism.

However, it is not clear that any of the other candidates could lead more effectively than Netanyahu has done. One analyst has called the upcoming election–whose date has yet to be set, and which could happen anytime between March and June–the “Seinfeid election,” meaning an election about nothing. No particular issue or crisis appeared to trigger the breakdown of the shaky coalition, other than long-simmering disagreements.

It is also possible that the eclipse of the Obama presidency, with the sweeping Republican victory in the U.S. midterms, has helped shake apart the Israeli government. Netanyahu was elected in 2009 on a mandate to oppose anticipated pressure from Obama, and the need for that pressure encouraged unity among the various factions. With that pressure easing, it is Israeli leaders may feel at liberty to pursue partisan interests again.

Photo: AP

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak