Elections Around the Corner: What Future is There For Israel's Ruling Coalition?

© AP Photo / Sebastian ScheinerIsraeli protesters carry large Israeli flag (File)
Israeli protesters carry large Israeli flag (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.05.2022
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It's been exceptionally difficult to keep Israel's governing coalition - which comprises eight parties - together. What has stopped it from falling apart so far is a shared fervent desire to keep Netanyahu out of office. But over time, the ideological differences seem to have pulled the fragile coalition apart.
As Israel's coalition suffered another shock on Thursday after its Arab lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi announced her departure, local media and commentators started speculating on the imminence of a snap election in Israel, the fifth in two years.
However, the coalition managed to avert a major crisis. A series of talks did away with the Bill tabled by the Opposition for the dissolution of the Knesset that was set to be debated on Wednesday.
In the past several weeks, the coalition has weathered a number of blows. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has been abandoned by his political adviser, Shimrit Meir, and chief of staff, Tal Gan-Zvi. A member of his Yamina party announced she could no longer be part of that government and Matan Kahana resigned his position as Religious Services Minister to return as an ordinary member of the Knesset with the intention of helping to “strengthen the coalition”. However, experts are already warning that it is only a matter of time until the whole house of cards collapses.
So, what does the future hold for Israel? Sputnik looks at the possibilities.

Scenario 1: The coalition carries on

Comprising eight parties of seriously opposing beliefs, the coalition has done an impressive job to have stuck together so far but to continue to do so would require funds, to make sure everyone's happy.
Dishing out cash to ensure stability started last June. Back then, when the present government was being formed, it offered more than $10Bln to Raam, an Islamic party with alleged ties to terror organisations.
More recently, millions have been offered to another party, the Joint Arab List, supposedly for improving roads and infrastructure in Arab towns and cities. And this week monetary guarantees were also given to Rinawie Zoabi to make sure she stays in the coalition and keeps it going.
Likelihood this will happen: So far this approach has proved efficient. But as Israel's economic woes deepen, and the government struggles to find the funds, public dissatisfaction with this policy will grow.

Scenario 2: Crumbling Coalition

In early April, the coalition lost its majority in the Knesset after conservative parliamentarian Idit Silman departed.
In her resignation letter, Silman said she could no longer "bear the damage to values and causes that are essential and right". She couldn't support a government that failed to protect Jerusalem and tackle a terror threat and she objected to liberal reforms that might infringe religious rights.
Silman was not alone: according to reports, there are other conservative parliamentarians who are considering quitting the party. Departures can also be expected from liberals - including Arab lawmakers - who believe the government is taking a more radical approach towards Israeli Arabs, the Palestinians and their rights.
Likelihood this will happen: If there are any more defections, the coalition - that at present consists of 60 members - will become even weaker and the chances of it sticking together will be minimal, if not non-existent.

Scenario 3: Change of Power

While the coalition struggles to keep its head above water, the Opposition led by Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, is waiting to pounce.
There are two options on the agenda: the first is to table a Bill of no-confidence against the government. But by doing so, Netanyahu would also need to present President Isaac Herzog with an alternative plan, or his own government with at least 61 parliamentarians, something he lacks at present.
Another choice would be to pass a Bill that would dissolve the Knesset. But if that were to happen, Israel would be forced to go to the polls for the fifth time in two years. According to polls, Netanyahu has every chance to improve his popularity. A number of recent surveys predicted he would get anything between 35 and 38 seats in the chamber if elections were to be held now. But he still lacks the magical number of 61 to retain his title of Israel's PM.
Likelihood this will happen: Some Israeli experts have noted that the country has already entered the cycle of elections. A general election seems inevitable. It is a matter of when, not if.
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