One month after the elections, Israel does not have a government yet. Once again, Netanyahu has failed to form it and Gantz will also have a hard time doing it, for the reasons we explained in our previous article. If a third election were to be held, the Israelis, who do not want it, would blame Netanyahu (33%), Gantz (20%), and both of them (25%), according to a recent poll. It is interesting to note that if the election took place today, the results would be more or less identical to the ones of September. Therefore, the situation seems blocked for the time being, and since President Rivlin’s decision to entrust Netanyahu with the mandate of forming the government, we have been witnessing a deceitful poker game, each protagonist willing to shift the blame on to others for the failure of negotiations.
The whole country is suspended to the judges’ decision to indict or not Netanyahu in the three cases he is involved in. The hearings are over now, and the Attorney General of the State, Avishai Vanderbilt, has now to decide if Netanyahu must be indicted. According to most commentators, that decision should be known around December 15th at the latest. According to the same poll, if Netanyanu were to be indicted, 59% of the Israelis think he should resign, and only 28% think that he should remain Prime Minister. 52% think that he should leave it to another member of the Likud to try and form a government. Netanyahu has been tempted to organize fast primaries within the Likud in order to regain his legitimity, but he gave up when Gideon Saar, one of the most prestigious candidates to succeed him, announced that he was ready to run for the leadership of the Likud.
Israel will thus continue to be governed by a transitional goverment that will be unable to take any decision, at a time when the situation is worsening in the region, between Iranian bombings in Saudi Arabia and the Turkish invasion in Syria against Kurds. Netenyahu never misses an opportunity to mention the threats to Israel, comparing them to the situation on the eve of the Yom Kippur War. He also insists on the necessity of investing heavily in order to improve Israel’s security, which will impose a heavy burden on its struggling economy. Most commentators point out that till recently, during the electoral campaign, Netanyahu insisted on the contrary on the good economy health and the relative security the country was in thanks to his good policy. And they wonder when Netanyahu is lying ?
While Israel is bogged down in that endless political crisis, the situation in the region is becoming more and more dangerous. It started with the Iranian offensive on Saudi oil facilities, which did not spark off the least reactions from the Americans. And now, Turks are invading the North of Syria in order to drive away the Kurds who have been on the front line in the war against Daesh. That invasion has been launched after Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, leaving their former Kurd allies alone to face the Turks. While that decision is criticized in most Western countries, and even within the American Republican Party, Netanyahu remains silent when his “great friend” Trump turns his back to his allies in the region. He does not mention any more the promises of a mutual defence agreement with the United States—the reliability of which seems doubtful today— made before the elections.
The American disengagement from the region, already started during Obama’s presidency, will have serious consequences in the future. Israel cannot build all its regional politics by looking only for the American endorsement. And we may indeed remain doubtful about the “deal of the century” promised by Trump, in case it comes back in the news some day. Israel has no other choice, if it really wants to end the conflict with the Palestinians, but to start negotiating directly with the Palestinian Authority. That question, largely overshadowed during the electoral campaign, will have to be on the agenda of the future government Israel needs in order to undertake at last the real problems of the country.