Israel had an election yesterday to determine its prime minister. The results appear to be a draw between incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and challenger Benny Gantz, the former defense minister. With 90% of the vote counted, Gantz’s Blue and White Party has 32 seats in the Knesset and Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party has only 31 seats.
In Israel’s unique form of parliamentary democracy, this was an election do-over. In the previous election, six months ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu won the election. But he could not afterwards put together a coalition government that included the necessary number of parliamentarians of other political parties in order to achieve the required majority of 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset (parliament) to rule the country. So, he called for another election, which was a first in Israel’s political history.
As of right now, it looks as though present Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Likud Party are even in a worse position than they were after the previous election. Political experts say it’s going to come down to Avigdor Lieberman being “the kingmaker,” meaning deciding who will be prime minister. He has done this before regarding Israel’s coalition governments, thus being called “kingmaker.” Lieberman served as an aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu during the 1990s.
Lieberman is a Russian immigrant Jew. He is the founder and leader of the secular Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is our home) party. He is somewhat anti-religious. For, he has said he will not be a part of a coalition government that includes religious parties.
Most recently, Lieberman served as Israel’s defense minister in 2016 to 2018. He then resigned, accusing the Netanyahu government of a tepid reaction to Gaza attacks by declaring a ceasefire. Lieberman is even more far-right on Israel’s political spectrum than Netanyahu is. Moreover, Lieberman is an Israeli settler in the West Bank. Thus, it is sort of ironic that Lieberman, like Netanyahu now, advocates Israel annexing Jewish settlements in the West Bank despite the fact that he is rather anti-religious. How so? It is predominantly religious Jews who have settled the West Bank and call for its annexation to Israel.
Lieberman had brought about the collapse of Netanyahu’s coalition government this spring, which caused the necessity of that election. Lieberman had done this due to his strong opposition to Israel’s religious parties clinging to the law that exempted Israeli Jewish seminary students from military service. This is something that had irritated the secular, Israeli population for many years.Only days before this particular election, Netanyahu, knowing that his chances of winning the election had lessened, announced that if he won the election he would unilaterally annex all major Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He did this to try to garner more votes from religiously Orthodox Jews. This was something he had been talking about publicly in previous months. Before that, he had never indicated such. The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has been dead for about four years. But such a unilateral move by Israel would even make it much more deader. (Yeah, “deader” is a word. It is often used to mean being made dead a second time.)
U.S. President Trump indicated his approval of such a decision about the West Bank. In fact, Trump has had his son-in-law Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, directing a U.S. policy attempt at a peace process in the Middle East which is mostly about trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is surely DOD (dead-on-arrival) because Kushner is very pro-annexation of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
So, any way you look at this election about how it is going to turn out, it looks as though Israel will be soon unilaterally annexing the major Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Although I think Israel should not do this, such a move further supports what I say in my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia. That is, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be solved in the sense that the Palestinians will get their own state. It will be located only in the coastal plain as a very expanded Gaza Strip, and Israel will annex all of the West Bank. The result will be two states lying side-by-side very much as occurred in antiquity between the Israelites and the Philistines, from whom the modern Palestinians derive their name. This viewpoint is not original with me. Rather, it is my interpretation of ten prophecies in the Jewish Bible, starting mostly with Isaiah 11.14.