Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Netanyahu’s failed coalition prompts snap election and peace concerns

By J.J. Rhies - June 03, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [elections]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was reelected in April, has failed to build a ruling coalition, pushing Israel into a new round of upcoming elections.

The reelection is not until September, however, drawing worries that the delayed appointment of a new Israeli government could further strain the emerging United States peace plan that will be unveiled later this month.

When Netanyahu failed to build a coalition by the 29 May deadline at midnight, he expressed confidence about the upcoming election.

“We will run a sharp, clear election campaign which will bring us victory,” he said.

“We will win, we will win and the public will win.”

Netanyahu could not get the support of the far-right Yisrael Beitenu Party, headed by former defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, that won five Knesset seats in the April election.

Netanyahu criticised Lieberman recently, saying he “brings down right-wing governments ... because he wants a few more votes, which he won’t get.”

Harry Fawcett, reporting from Jerusalem for Al Jazeera, said the scene at the Knesset on 29 May was harried, with Netanyahu scrambling to build a successful coalition.

“The scenes in the Israeli parliament today have been quite astounding. Benjamin Netanyahu was trying all he could to avert this situation, even offering the centre-left Labour Party positions in the government. They rejected that. He tried at the last minute to get his longtime political associate Avigdor Lieberman on board,” Fawcett explained.

“Netanyahu eventually decided that his best option was to go to another election, rather than allow the president to try to get somebody else to potentially form a coalition instead.”

The strained U.S. peace deal

An unnamed Palestinian Authority (PA) official told Haaretz on 29 May that the PA expects that Israel’s new elections will impact the U.S.-led “deal of the century,” as U.S. President Trump and others have dubbed it.

The plan, which PA officials have long opposed, is set to begin with an economic development workshop in Bahrain on June 25–26. The meeting in Manama is expected to focus on improving the West Bank economy, which is experiencing “severe fiscal shock” according to the World Bank.

Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), “cynically tweeted that the dissolution of the Knesset would overturn Trump’s peace plan,” Haaretz wrote at the time.

In May, Erekat said in a statement the PLO had not “mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf,” continuing the Palestinians’ years-long trend of refusing peace talks with the U.S.

Palestinian officials also said they were not approached by anyone about the upcoming Bahrain meeting.

The Palestinian Authority began resisting talks with the U.S. after it moved its embassy to Jerusalem in late 2017, effectively endorsing the city as Israel’s rightful capital.

Israel wrested East Jerusalem, which is largely considered occupied territory, from Jordanian control during the 1967 war.


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