Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon interviewed Gil Hoffman, pollical analyst and columnist of the Jerusalem Post to assess the political dynamics of the first historic Israeli do-over election on September 17th. On Saturday, July 20th, Israeli PM Netanyahu will become the Jewish nation’s longest serving Prime Minister. He failed to form a ruling coalition following the April 9th Knesset election when Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, nationalist secular party, refused to join the proposed coalition over the inclusion of alleged extremist Orthodox religious parties Recent Ma’ariv polls show the Likud right wing coalition with 58 possible seats versus 54 for the Blue-White Center Left Alliance. Netanyahu during the remaining 63 days is faced with the daunting task of cobbling together a 61-seat majority. He has reached out to former Yisrael Beytenu party members. He has offered former Education Minister Naftali Bennett a possible UN Ambassadorship to replace Danny Danon, whose term is expiring. Ayelet Shaked, former Justice Minister and co-founder with Bennett of the New Right Party, that failed to reach the threshold of 3.25% in the April 9th election, is endeavoring to form a right-wing alliance with former Jewish Home party members. Some observers call her action a coup, against current party leader and Education Minister, Rabbi Rafi Peretz. Peretz became controversial espousing so-called ‘conversion’ therapy for gays in Israel. The New Right Party passed the threshold for possible inclusion in the Knesset election with 6 seats in the Ma’ariv poll. The Left is not without its problems. Former Labor PM and Netanyahu Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, in June announced a new party list, the Israel Democracy Party, which achieved 4 seats in the Ma’ariv poll. He is currently embroiled in a controversy over an investment partnership with financier Jeffrey Epstein in an Israeli emergency services communication company. Epstein is the subject of a US Federal Court sex-trafficking indictment. Barak is scrambling with his lawyers to unwind the partnership. Both Labor, now led by former 2006 Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and Meretz rejected an alliance with Barak’s Israel Democracy Party over the Epstein disclosure. Labor and Meretz have 5 seats each in the Ma’ariv poll. The United Arab Hadash-Taal-Raam-Balad party list with 10 seats in the Ma’ariv polls might block a possible majority government for Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s prospects are further complicated by a possible lower total vote turnout than the 68.5 percent who voted in the April 9th election as the Israeli polity is turned off by the political personalities. Netanyahu’s strength lies in his commanding presence in Diplomacy, Security and the Economy. He has kept Israel out of a war, despite the 140,000 rockets and missiles held by Iran’s proxy Hezbollah. He has ‘sway’ over Trump as evidenced by the recent Bahrain launch of the $50 Billion “peace through prosperity” economic proposals. Hoffman contends that is modeled on something that Bibi proposed in 2009. Bibi has picked up US Republican pollster and strategist John McLaughlin. Likud has criticized the Blue White Alliance for retention of Democrat, Joel Benenson as strategist for the Obama Presidential and Iran nuclear deal campaigns. The economy may not be as strong as it was prior to the April 9th election. That is reflected in curtailment of funding of popular educational programs. There is still the matter of the looming October hearing on outstanding corruption charges against Bibi, while new allegations of corruption have surfaced. Anything could happen in the upcoming September 17th do -over election. However, Hoffman noted there is no chance there could be a repeat of the upcoming election. Whatever the result is on September 17th could not block someone else forming a ruling coalition.
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