The Israeli parties join forces at the polls to avoid another electoral repetition

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman with Russian war veterans in 2018 in Jerusalem.

The rise of Lieberman threatens to block Netanyahu again after the September elections

Less electoral lists are remembered in the race towards the Kneset, the fragmented unicameral parliament of Israel. Less than seven weeks after the conclusion of the second legislatures convened this year, only nine candidates likely to win seats had appeared on Thursday before the legal deadline expired, compared to the 14 registered in the inconclusive elections of April . The parties fear that on September 17 the blockade will be reproduced in the Legislative Chamber that prevented the formation of a Government and have agreed on different alliances to avoid a new electoral repetition.

Almost all political forces have concentrated forces despite the fact that the ultra-proportional electoral system, of national constituency, guarantees entry into the Kneset (120 seats) if the threshold of 3.25% of the vote is exceeded. “The emergence of new coalitions now draws a difficult picture to predict,” warns political commentator Daniel Kupervaser. “In the four legislative sessions held since 2009, the pattern of results that has allowed Benjamin Netanyahu to lead the formation of Government has remained constant: around 65 deputies for the right against about 55 of the center-left and the Arab opposition,” Accurate this analyst. “It remains to be seen if the alliances maintain that trend, after Avigdor Lieberman [secular nationalist] stopped supporting Netanyahu.”

The parties seem to have learned the lesson of the polls in April – which punished the division in the right and the Arab parties – and have accelerated the movements of unity before the repetition of the elections, which are presented as a second electoral round. These are the main formations and their alliances.

Likud. The conservative party led by Netanyahu, which won 35 seats four months ago, has absorbed the Kulanu centrist formation, which entered by the minimum in the Kneset with only four deputies. The prime minister reinforces a profile of moderation against center rivals.

Blue and white. It is in itself an alliance of several centrist forces, headed by the charismatic exgeneral Benny Gantz and the popular television former Yair Lapid. They tied 35 seats with the Likud in April in their first electoral battle a few months after its foundation. Two other former leaders of the Armed Forces accompanied them at the top of the list.

Labor Party. Its new leader, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, has chosen to agree with the small center Gheser party, instead of joining a leftist coalition. Labor, which only obtained six deputies in April, seems to bet on joining a hypothetical National Unity Cabinet if Netanyahu fails to add a majority in the right field.

Democratic Union. The party of the pacifist left Meretz (four seats) was about to be out of the Kneset. He has now partnered with former Prime Minister Ehud Barak – one of the most critical voices against Netanyahu – and has welcomed dissatisfied Labor defectors with the old party guard.

Israel, Our House. The secular ultra-nationalist party of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has become the key to the political vault in Israel. He is the only one who seems to do better alone. The radical decision to withdraw support from Netanyahu forced the electoral replay in September. The polls foresee that it will double its current five parliamentarians thanks to a program that aims to force the ultra-religious (12% of the population) to fulfill military service. Lieberman drew a red line on Tuesday at the Israel Central Committee meeting, Our House, warning that he will only support a Government of national unity with the Likud and Blue and White. That is, an Executive in principle not chaired by Netanyahu, whom Gantz and Lapid refuse to invest, although they do not exclude other leaders of the Likud.

Ultra-Orthodox. Jaredies or God fearing contemplate the rise of Lieberman as a biblical curse. Their presence in the Netanyahu Government has brought substantial benefits to their institutions. The students of the yeshivas (Talmudic schools) are exempt from military service, mandatory for both men and women in Israel. The Torah Union and Judaism (Ashkenazi), with eight seats, and the Shas party (Eastern or Sephardic), also with eight deputies, act in coordination and are key to sustaining the Likud.

Joint List. The four parties representing the Arab minority of Israel (20% of the population) have once again combined to recover their 2015 record result (13 seats), compared to the 10 they added divided in April. Although they do not aspire to join an eventual alternative government, their vote may prove decisive to block Netanyahu’s path to power.

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