The Slatest

Netanyahu, Apparently Confident That He’ll Win More Power, Calls for New Elections in Israel  

Netanyahu today.

Gali Tibbon/Reuters

Unhappy with the state of his current ruling coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu has called for new Israeli national elections in which he could be—though is not expected to be—unseated as prime minister.

Netanyahu, the New York Times writes, “had enough of his fractious coalition partners and wanted a more manageable government made up of rightist allies and the ultra-Orthodox parties he has long considered his natural partners.” He made the call for elections after firing two prominent ministers—finance minister Yair Lapid and justice minister Tzipi Livni—who he said were undermining him. His comments about the pair were, by American standards at least, quite salty:

Livni is the last to talk about responsibility … Livni and Lapid have one thing in common—they talk about new politics, but in practice they practice old politics. In recent weeks they have joined forces to lure the religious factions to oust [the] prime minister while sitting in the government. By the way, these are the same ultra-Orthodox parties that Lapid frequently claims that he refuses to sit with them [in the government] … the finance minister, who failed managing the economy, secretly joined forces with the justice minister against an incumbent prime minister—in one word, it’s called a putsch. It is impossible to run a government in this state.

Israel’s current ruling coalition was formed in early 2013. If the country’s parliament, the Knesset, follows Netanyahu’s wishes (which is likely) and dissolves itself, new elections—not scheduled until 2017—could then be held as soon as March. Haaretz writes that Netanyahu, who leads the Likud party, is nearly certain to once again assemble a coalition goverment and be selected as prime minister after new elections, even though his popularity has been falling of late. (In Israel, no party is powerful enough to win a majority in the Knesset and thus select its own prime minister.) Says the paper:

It would take a political magic wand to unseat Netanyahu as prime minister, given the number of seats that would go to Likud, and the moderate size of the parties in the “Anybody But Bibi” camp—and on the assumption that Habayit Hayehudi and the ultra-Orthodox parties would eventually recommend that Netanyahu form the next government.

For those interested in further reading, the Jewish Journal has a more detailed (but still comprehensible to an American) breakdown called “10 things you need to know about Israel’s coming elections.”