Update 19 September: With almost all votes counted, the Orthodox/right-wing bloc has 55 seats, the centrist/left/Arab bloc has 57, and Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman holds the balance of power with eight. If these figures hold it is possible that the president would give Blue and White the first opportunity to try and form a government.
Blue and White has 33 seats to Likud’s 31. Third was the Joint List alliance of Palestinian-majority parties at 13, followed by the ultra-Orthodox parties Shas with nine and United Torah Judaism with eight. Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu also has eight, Yamina has seven, Labor-Gesher has six and the Democratic Camp has five.
A desperate Netanyahu invites Gantz’s Blue and White to join a Likud government. Gantz knowing that the Blue and White has won the election rejects the offer, calling on Likud to dump Bibi and join with him. This could result in a split of the Likud moderates to join a Blue and White peace making government leaving the more extremist elements in a rump Likud.
The president will decide around the end of September who he will mandate to try and form a governing coalition. Meanwhile the security situation is at the boiling point with Israel attacking Iranian assets in Syria and Iran at the ready to respond, possibly from Gaza. Netanyahu may drag Israel into a war, hoping to force a third election in which he can run as a victorious hero.
For the second time in the last 48 hours there are reports of airstrikes on the Iranian base in the city of Albukamal Syria in the Deir Ezzor Governorate. The last time the Saudi’s were blamed but they have denied and that attack is now thought to have been made by Israel. Today’s attack is also thought to be by Israeli forces.
Update 16 September: Last weekend’s pre-election Gaza war was postponed after the Attorney General told Netanyahu he needed cabinet approval. The Israeli cabinet and the IDF forced a postponement of Netanyahu’s plans for a pre-election war on Gaza. The cabinet, because they did not want a conflict that would delay the elections and the IDF wanted more time for the Syrian Idlib operation to mature. For more see the September 2019 News Blog.
Update 13 September: The latest polls show the Blue and White and the Likud parties tied in the number of Knesset seats with neither side being able to form a governing coalition of at least 61 seats. The polls suggest that Likud will have the best chance of forming a government in terms of coalition building, indicating that Netanyahu may again be asked by the president to try forming a governing coalition within 30 days.
If Netanyahu cannot form a governing coalition he can return the mandate and the president will then give it to the Blue and White for a try, even though they have little chance unless the Likud splits between moderates and hard liners: or Bibi could again legislate new elections like he did last time.
A third option is to force a coalition by launching a war with Gaza which would escalate to include Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria and possibly Iran. All the parties would rally around the flag and Bibi would have a governing national unity coalition at least until the hostilities end.
Any war could take months and establishing some political stability in the region would take even longer. From there it remains to be seen how long it will take to arrange a peace deal. The tribulation could begin in late 2020 or take even longer.
Israeli Gaza Tensions Explosive
The orders have been given, the ultimatum sent and the IDF is on standby to launch a major Gaza Operation which in all probability will spread to include Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria and possibly Iran.
Just 11 days before the Sep 17 Israeli election, polls have Kahol Lavan [Blue and White] and Likud tied, with neither side being able to form a governing coalition. If the elections go ahead as scheduled it is highly likely to be a rerun of the spring election which failed to establish a governing coalition and could easily result in a third election.
Note: If an election takes place and war breaks out before a new government can be established, the other parties would back the government until the conclusion of any conflict: After that normal political events would resume.
There is one big difference, the Oct 2 court hearing to determine if the courts will hear the three corruption indictments against Netanyahu. Whoever is tasked with forming a government will make no progress until the results of that hearing are known. If the court rules against hearing the indictments Bibi has a chance, but if the courts decide to hear the case his chances of forming a government are virtually impossible.
If Netanyahu fails to form a government he could call a third election or the president could ask the Blue and White to try forming a government and they could offer a coalition with Likud if they get rid of Netanyahu; which offer would likely split off the Likud moderates from the die hard extremists, enabling a Blue and White coalition government and leaving a rump extremist Likud.
Although the initial court hearing is scheduled for 2 Oct reports suggest that there is more than enough evidence to proceed. This means that the Netanyahu era is ending and could result in imprisonment for Bibi.
In this situation, if possible Bibi needs some way to postpone the election and the court case and present himself as Mr Security to garner as many votes as possible when the election does take place; he cannot afford to appear weak on security issues.
Today Netanyahu gave Hamas and the Gaza militias an ultimatum through Egypt.
This is Israel’s last warning and final notice to Hamas. More attacks and failure to uphold its commitments for reining in its people and those of its allies, in keeping with standing undertakings, would have one consequence, the prime minister warned. The IDF already has its orders and is standing ready to launch a comprehensive military campaign against Hamas and the other organizations operating in the Gaza Strip.
At the end of the message, Netanyahu emphasized that Hamas and its leaders would be seriously mistaken if they expected Israel’s Sept.17 election to delay its Gaza operation. Quite the opposite. The election will be delayed. Israel’s political parties will join forces to postpone the election until after it is over.
Israel called up reservists last week and on Sunday the IDF from the General Staff on down began exercise “Headstone.” The exercise will practice a full scale multi front war through Wednesday after which a Readiness Report will be presented to the political leadership.
Short of a miracle a major Israeli Gaza operation seems hard to avoid in the coming days. Converging with that Syria is expected to launch an operation to liberate the Idlib province and eradicate the central Asian terrorists concentrated there.
With much of the Syrian army already concentrated near the Turkish border the time is ideal for an Israeli Gaza Operation which is highly likely to spread to include Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria and potentially Iran.
Doubtless Bibi would be hoping that a major victory would translate into votes when the election does take place, but that might not happen if the victory is very destructive and bloody.
When the conflict is over the political realities across the Middle East will have been reset making a genuine dialogue for peace possible.