The Israeli Snap Election for the Knesset is eight days away.
Today on the show we discussed the Israeli elections, how they work, and why they are impactful for the United States. And we also discussed breaking news on Iran as Israel has announced that they’ve discovered a new nuclear test site.
You may be thinking to yourself, didn’t they just have an election? Israel is a parliamentary democracy, not a constitutional republic like the United States. Their government functions very similarly to the United Kingdom.
In the United Kingdom, the Queen generally asks the political party that wins the most seats in the parliamentary elections to form a government. There are so many political parties that very often a coalition of political parties is needed to form a government. It is the same in Israel, except there’s a President, not a queen.
In Israel the two main rival parties are Likud and the Blue & White, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, respectively. This election could change the face of the peace process.
The United States is about to unveil a peace plan for the Middle East, and if there’s a change in leadership, it drastically changes the plan.
There are 120 seats in the Knesset and a coalition of 61 is needed to form a government. No party will get an outright majority on its own - there’s just too many. Once the election is concluded, a coalition must be formed within 30 days. If a coalition can’t be formed, there will either be another snap election or the party with the second most seats in the Knesset will be tasked with forming a coalition.
In Israel voters go vote for the party, not the candidates. The potential MKs (members of Knesset) are put forth on a list. They become MKs based on the number of seats their parties attain from election results and seniority in their respective parties. For a party to have representation, they generally needs to achieve a vote threshold of over 3%, because there’s so many parties.
After last election, Prime Minister Netanyahu could not form a government and that’s why they are having this election in eight days. The coalition fell apart after the last election because of a disagreement with the religious and the secular parties over Orthodox Jews and the draft.
The Avigdor Lieberman-led Yisrael Beiteinu Party refused to participate in the coalition because they didn’t want to acquiesce to the religious parties demands.
The United States has a very close relationship with the current Israeli government and this election could conceivably alter that a bit. ACLJ Senior Counsel Skip Ash pointed out that the United States has a team working very closely with the Netanyahu government on a path towards peace and security.
The consensus on the show was that the best case scenario for the United States would be for Netanyahu to form a government. Netanyahu’s government has been really aggressive regarding Iran and has been working closely with the Trump Administration to combat the threat from Iran.
Israel has just exposed a new nuclear test site in Iran. Just exposing it caused Iran to begin to dismantle it out of fear of Israeli air strikes.
We can’t afford to be naïve about Iran’s nuclear intentions. They are likely much further along in its nuclear development than we know. The current State of Israel is vigilant and on top of the Iran situation. A stable and continually vigilant Israel is important to the United States.
We here at the ACLJ are praying for a stable and secure Israel.
You can listen to the entire episode here.
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