New Israeli Government May Fall Before It Is Born

Israelis went to elections on April 9, 2019. While the main two parties came out almost even, it was clear, based on the victories of the smaller parties, that Israelis were voting for a right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. However, after asking for a two-week extension to form a coalition, Netanyahu has not been able to put together a 61-seat majority government. There are many factors.

Bibi Lied?

Before the elections, Netanyahu promised the public that if he were indicted on bribery and corruption charges (as is expected in the coming months), he would not seek to pass a law, known here as the “French law,” granting him immunity while in office. In fact, he said that passing such a law was, “out of the question.”

However, now that he has won, he has changed his mind. His reasoning is that since Israelis, voted for him to be the Prime Minister (knowing of his legal troubles), they clearly want him to serve as Prime Minister without the distraction of bring tried in court for corruption. One might argue the opposite. Since Bibi said he would not seek immunity, he gained 4 or 5 seats, giving him the victory.

This has caused outrage, not only in the opposition, but also with some on the right. One of the most respected, former Likud ministers is Benny Begin—the son of famed Prime Minister Menachem Begin. He lashed out at Netanyahu:

“I am witnessing this with great sadness—the prime minister hiding behind the shield of immunity as a Knesset member, with or without legislative changes, is a corrupt act. With this act, the prime minister intends to misuse his leadership power for personal gain, and he is dragging others down with him. The Knesset members who support the prime minister’s attempt to escape justice will be abusing their office by lending a hand to a clear act of corruption.” —Benny Begin

On a comedy show, a character playing Netanyahu was asked how he could switch positions after promising not to support the immunity law. “I have a very simple answer,” responded the Netanyahu character, “I lied.”

Lieberman won’t Cave

The second issue facing Bibi is that the longtime leader of the right-wing secular party, Israel our House, Avigdor Lieberman, has made five demands in order to join Bibi. Two of those five demands are that the IDF be free to deal with Hamas in Gaza, so that they cannot