Explaining Israel's elections
Netanyahu didn't lose, but he didn't win either.
Last week, Israeli voters went to the polls for the second time in a year. (Left out were the 5 million Palestinians living under military occupation. They don’t get to vote for the people who ultimately control their lives.)
Americans used to getting up the next day with a new president-elect may have been confused at Israel’s situation the next day. Nobody knew whether Israel would have a new prime minister. They still don’t know.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party narrowly lost to the center-right Blue and White party. But because neither Likud or Blue and White (in Hebrew, Kahol Lavan) won enough seats to form a coalition, no body knows who will be the next prime minister.
This is the current situation: Israeli President Reuvin Rivlin is trying to get the top two vote-getters, Benny Gantz (head of Blue and White) and Netanyahu, to come together in a unity coalition. If that doesn’t work, Rivlin will tap one candidate to try to form a coalition of at least 61 Knesset seats. That candidate would then have up to six weeks to form a government, though if he fails, Rivlin could turn to another candidate to try to form a stable coalition. If there’s yet another deadlock, Israel will return to a third election.
Sunday brought more intriguing election news out of Israel. 10 members of the Joint List, the majority-Arab coalition that won the third-most parliament seats the elections, recommended that Gantz be Israel’s next leader.
This was not exactly a shock; the Joint List telegraphed this before the elections. But it was nonetheless historic, as it was the first time that Arab parties recommended a Zionist party to get the first crack at forming a coalition.
It gets more complicated, though. Many liberals in the U.S. cheered on the Joint List’s decision to recommend Gantz. So did some Palestinian citizens in Israel. But for Palestinians on the left, it was met with some dismay. Some Palestinians distrust Gantz; after all, Gantz prosecuted Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of over 500 children. In fact, he’s being sued for war crimes over his role in that war in the Netherlands.
I wrote all about this today, once again in VICE News. Check it out!
I’ve also been working on some longer feature pieces that remain in the works. Stay tuned!