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Israel elections: Difficult road ahead for Netanyahu

Banchi

Sept. 18, 2019

For the second time in five months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s prospects to form a ruling majority coalition look difficult. Following the second election this year, Netanyahu’s Likud appeared to be in a dead heat with opposition Kahol Lavan – projected 32 seats each – with both parties failing to secure a majority on their own. Although the final results are awaited, it is clear that Netanyahu won’t have it any easier than earlier this year when a similar situation after the first election saw him fail to cobble together a ruling coalition.
The magic number for Netanyahu is 61. With his existing coalition partners he has 56. He needs the support of ally-turned-rival Avigdor Lieberman. Alternatively, he may try to rope in one of the leftist parties. Both look unlikely. Add to this the corruption charges looming over Netanyahu, with pre-indictment hearing scheduled for October 2. On the other hand, Kahol Lavan’s path to possible government formation too looks tricky. It is made complicated by the fact that the Joint List of Arab parties is likely to end up third in the polls.
Taken together, it seems that Netanyahu’s political invincibility is fading. He may still be able to form a last-minute ruling coalition. But talk of replacing him at the head of Likud has already begun. Should Netanyahu’s reign end – and with it his strident anti-Palestine position – it could potentially change the landscape of Middle East politics.
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