Rod Reuven Dovid and Jerry Gordon interview Gil Hoffman, chief political analyst and columnist for the Jerusalem Post during his fall tour of the US and Canada. They discuss Israel’s national emergency- the two failures by Prime Minister Netanyahu to form a majority ruling coalition in the Knesset following the April 9th and September 17th, 2019 elections. Now, it is former IDF Chief Benjamin Gantz and his Blue White Alliance turn to see if a national unity government might be formed. But time is running out.
Hoffman calls it the ‘garbage time’ as the Jewish nation is awaiting a decision by Attorney General Mandelblit on a possible bribery indictment against Netanyahu which carries with mandatory jail time. . Hoffman noted that Netanyahu’s lawyers have argued against the bribery charge on the alleged grounds of favorable news coverage. If Netanyahu’s American lawyers prevail in their rebuttal arguments, then Netanyahu might be able to form a ruling coalition.
Meanwhile, Israel is in a national emergency as there is no functioning government and no funding of basic programs
Despite this, Hoffman contends there will be no “threepeat” – a third possible election. The deadline is December 11th. Netanyahu still has a loyal following in Likud. When asked about possible successors to Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister who recently tuned 70, Hoffman cited Gedeon Sa’ar, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and former Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat.
Avigdor Liberman is still pressing for a unity party with Gantz’s Blu White Alliance, without the religious parties. Further there is the matter of dealing with the Arab Joint List which could join a coalition in exchange for funding programs. There is the technical possibility of a Blue White Alliance minority government. Hoffman thinks there is no difference between the national security platforms of Gantz and Netanyahu, although the Blue White alliance might more prone to compromise on the Trump peace plan.
Hoffman contends that despite the stalemate to form a new Knesset ruling coalition that there is virtual no chance that Israel will change the basic law to raise the threshold for party representation in the Knesset from the current level of 3.25 %. Nor is there any prospect for Israel adopting a written constitution. Political reform, he says is “too complicated”. Pressure, he believes, is building to come up with an effective compromise to form a ruling coalition.
Turning to regional threats, Hoffman said that Israelis are “very concerned” about US withdrawal from Syria and alarmed about the debacle abandoning the Kurdish allies. Notwithstanding, the protests opposing Iran in both Iraq and Lebanon, Hoffman cited the possible threat of missile attacks on Israel by Iran -backed Houthi proxies from Yemen.