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December 1, Elections

by Marc Schulman

Tonight early elections in Israel became all but inevitable. Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Finance Minister Lapid for over two hours in, what was described as, a last minute attempt to hold the coalition together. It was the first time the two men had talked in two months. The meeting did not go well, with Netanyahu making demands on Lapid (including his dropping is signature housing plan to eliminate V.A.T. on new apartments,) that he knew Lapid could not meet. Thus now there seems to be no choice but to call early elections. This would be the first time that a coalition has fallen apart, not over a major issue, but over failure of its members to trust one another and make any compromises whatsoever.

For the past two months the Israeli government has been heavily divided and practically nonfunctional. Ministers seem unable to agree on anything and the coalition has been so divided that it has been unable to pass any major legislation. A few weeks ago Prime Minister Netanyahu became convinced that members of the coalition were plotting to form an alternative government in which he would no longer be the Prime Minister. The evidence of this was limited, but the Prime Minister (who is naturally suspicious) decided to believe it. As a result, over the past two weeks he has been acting more and more as if early elections were inevitable. It is clear he decided despite his recent low poll numbers that an election now was advantageous. Over the past two weeks he has been working to ensure he has the support of the Ultra Orthodox parties after the upcoming elections, thus making it most likely that he will be the Prime Minister – once again – after the elections. However in politics, especially Israeli politics, which by its nature is very volatile, nothing is certain. Its not clear when the elections will be held.


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