Stalemate Sends Israel to Third Election
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
After elections in April and September, neither Netanyahu's Likud or Gantz/Lapid's Blue and White party were able to cobble together a 61-seat ruling Knesset majority to form a new government.
Coalitions always run Israel. No single party ever won a majority of Knesset seats on its own. Most often, majority right-wing hardliners run things — notably under Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, Gantz likely to operate the same way if becomes prime minister.
The former IDF chief is an unindicted war criminal. He headed Israel's Ground Forces Command during the 2006 rape of Lebanon.
Strategy focused on inflicting mass casualties, including against civilians – notably maximum deaths, injuries, destruction, displacement and human suffering, core international humanitarian law breaches, accountability never forthcoming.
Gantz was IDF chief of staff during Israel's 2012 Pillar of Cloud and 2014 Protective Edge aggression against Gaza, responsible for massacring thousands, injuring many thousands more, mostly civilians, along with widespread destruction.
Using banned weapons against Gazans, doctors reported treating horrific injuries never seen before, much of the Strip turned to rubble during 51 days of premeditated naked aggression in summer 2014 alone.
Three Israeli wars of aggression on besieged Gaza since December 2008 devastated the Strip and its two million people.
Gantz bragged about returning parts of Gaza "to the stone ages," implying he'll do it again as prime minister.
He's an unapologetic warrior likely to govern that way if he emerges as Israeli prime minister.
On Wednesday at midnight, Israel's Knesset dissolve, a third election in less than a year scheduled for March 2.
The country remains in political limbo. On Thursday, Israel's High Court of Justice said Netanyahu can remain prime minister for the time being, rejecting a petition for his resignation.
A second petition to the high court has yet to be ruled on. The rejected petition cited three reasons for his removal:
1. He's incompetent.
2. His indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust obligates him to step down.
3. He's been unable to form a new government, leaving Israel in political limbo.
Though Israeli law permits an indicted prime minister to remain in office unless convicted, the issue was never judicially ruled on in Israeli history.
Its Supreme Court may have final say on it given serious wrongdoing Netanyahu is charged with, making him politically damaged goods. Polls show most Israelis want him to step down.
What's going on is unprecedented in Israeli history. Since indicted on November 21, he's weaker than ever before in his political life as prime minister.
On Thursday, he said he'll relinquish his health, social welfare, diaspora, and agriculture ministries on January 1 while remaining prime minister.
After neither he or Gantz was able to form a coalition government, MKs had 21 days to nominate one of their own to try cobbling together what the two front-runners failed at.
No nomination emerged when time elapsed, MKs passing legislation for a third election in 90 days before the body was dissolved.
Is coalition rule likely to emerge from a third election or will stalemate continue? A Tuesday poll showed Blue and White expanded its one seat advantage over Likud to four — 37 to 33 seats.
It's a long time to March 2. Much can happen from now to then, including a possible Likud primary challenge from MK Gideon Sa'ar.
Netanyahu accused Gantz of "forcing" new elections. Rallying support from his base, he said "to prevent this happening again, there is only one thing we must do: win and win big."
Is he dead man walking politically and judicially or a survivor like throughout his political life?
According to Haaretz editors, "the 'magician' is running out of rabbits to pull out of his hat, which is full of holes, and all that's left are empty political stunts meant to create background noise that might make people forget that (he's) charged with criminal offenses in three different cases," adding:
He should resign "from politics…for the benefit of the country (and to try) salvag(ing) what little remains of his own honor."
The fullness of time in the new year will tell how things turn out.
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