Jeremy Saltan: Israeli Election Is Like Iowa Caucuses, ‘We Just Don’t Know Who the Winner Is’

Israeli singer Regev Hod (unseen) holds a microphone for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he and his wife appear before supporters at the Likud party campaign headquarters in the coastal city of Tel Aviv early on March 3, 2020, after polls officially closed. - Netanyahu claimed "a giant victory" in …
GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty

Last week’s election in Israel resembles the Democrat Iowa caucuses given the absence of a winner, said Jeremy Saltan, Israeli political strategist, in an interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Sunday with special guest host Joel Pollak.

“It’s sort of like the Iowa caucuses where you think you know what the results are — you’re just waiting for the final votes — and it just continues to play out a little bit differently as the days go on,” Saltan remarked, noting that Likud, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, fell three seats shy of winning a majority by winning 58 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. “We just don’t know who the winner is, even though the election was last week and we probably won’t know who the election winner was until next week at the earliest.”

 

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No single party has ever won a majority of the Knesset’s seats, necessitating minority governments building governing coalitions. Saltan highlighted possible coalitions that could arise from Israel’s latest election.

“There are two wild cards,” Saltan explained, “One is the Arab Joint List and the other one is Lieberman’s party (Yisrael Beiteinu), who used to be part of the coalition. These days he’s part of the opposition, but still will not associate completely with [Benny] Gantz.”

Saltan observed that Benny Gantz, who heads the Israel Resilience Party, “is trying to figure out a way to get up from 40 up to 62 … in order to block Netanyahu” by forming an alliance with Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the party Yisrael Beiteinu, and Israel’s Arab parties. Lieberman “is no friend of he Arabs,” he added, highlighting the difficulty of Gantz’s attempt at building such a coalition.

Saltan said, “We’re in our third election here in Israel within a year,” adding, “What does that mean? Where are we headed? Either Netanyahu is going to be able to pick off a few renegade [members of Knesset], perhaps he’s going to be able to convince one of the parties within Gantz’s block to change loyalties, or perhaps — and I hope not — we might end up going to a fourth election within the last year.”

Lieberman’s unwillingness to join currently proposed coalitions by Netanyahu or Gantz is perpetuating Israel’s electoral limbo, assessed Saltan, noting Lieberman’s previous roles in coalition governments led by Netanyahu.

[Avigdor Lieberman] could join the right-wing block and be able to form a government and we’ll be able to avoid another election,” said Saltan. “Unfortunately, he’s not.”

Pollak said, “[Avigdor Liberman] basically has forced the country into all of these elections — or re-elections, these redos — he’s still sitting out, and now he is supporting this potential law that would block Netanyahu from becoming prime minister because they’re setting term limits [to] only have two terms. I think Netanyahu would be entering his fifth term and they would say say if you’re under indictment — which Netanyahu is — you can’t serve as prime minister.”

Breitbart News Sunday broadcasts live on SiriusXM Patriot 125 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

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