Do-over Israeli election

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Ballots for Israeli elections, April 9, 2019 (Photo: Laliv G/Wikimedia Commons).

Who could have predicted that less than two months after the early Israeli elections – called for by a confident Benjamin Netanyahu, who believed he’d attain a sure win, that the country would find itself in a do-over election bid for a Prime Minister who would successfully build a coalition? Yet, here we are – in that very situation.

What happened?

After a multitude of attempts to gather the necessary 61 mandates needed to build a coalition, those attempts finally failed. Here’s why.

Together with the religious, right-wing parties, Netanyahu was able to garner only 60 mandates. The one person who could have helped him to reach the 61 number threshold was Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman who simply refused to join forces as a result of his strong opposition to the ultra-orthodox conscription bill which became a sticking point for him and one upon which the religious parties would not compromise.

Liberman’s position was that to accept the status quo, where the ultra-orthodox are exempt from military service is tantamount to allowing an extreme religious government to enact Jewish law as the final authority, thereby doing away with democracy. From Liberman’s way of thinking, such a move would be a “complete surrender” of the Likud party to the ultra-orthodox. Consequently, he declined to be part of such a coalition which would send that kind of message.

What is next?  

The Blue and White Party headed by former IDF general Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, second in command now could have a second bite of the apple with the hope of building a more centrist coalition. When the April 9th elections were held, they managed to finish in a tie with the Likud party. The only difference was that they were unable to garner enough party votes from other political groups in order to meet that 60 threshold number, so Likud was tasked, by Israel’s president, with the job of putting together a government, given that they were expected to obtain the needed support.

What else has changed?

Since that time, Sara Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s wife has reached a plea deal with the State prosecution as it concerns her corruption charges of the “Prepared Food Affair” whereby funds were claimed to have been used inappropriately. Sara was able to reduce the charges by admitting to a lesser charge of “intentionally exploiting another person’s error” as opposed to “fraud.” In addition, she agreed to pay a fine of 55,000 NIS, greatly reduced from the original fine of 359,000 NIS. Perhaps, the greatest significance is that she has now admitted to having committed a crime.

Another issue, on the minds of voters, is that Netanyahu had hoped to pass an immunity bill for himself and all other Knesset members which would have effectively aided him in not being convicted of any of his own multiple corruption charges which still await adjudication. Many felt that such a move would only further demoralize what was already viewed as an unscrupulous attempt at being above the law and untouchable no matter what the crime, so long as you were a member of the Knesset.

These things clearly add to a more serious shadow of corruption charges both on the Prime Minister and his wife in this second go-around.

Now voters will be heading, once again, to the ballot box on September 17th – a first in the history of the 71 year-old country, but given the fact that this is ultimately the land which God, Himself established and controls, perhaps, this is how things are supposed to play out.

For many months, KNI has reported on the fact that Jewish born believers in the Messiah have been systematically prevented from immigrating to their rightful homeland – a blatant and grievous infraction of the country’s Secular Right of Return Law which allows for Jewish-born persons, even to the extent of having only one Jewish grandparent, the ability to become citizens of Israel.

As much as many evangelical Christians love and respect Netanyahu, seeing him as the best possible leader for the country, it should be noted that under his government, Jewish believers, seeking to return to their homeland have been meticulously screened and weeded out by the ultra-orthodox who control the interior ministry, being told they are ineligible for citizenship despite the Law. Some have been forced to return to their country of origin, brokenhearted and dismayed that they have fallen victim to such indefensible discrimination while others have been fighting court battles for years, draining them financially and emotionally.

If there is an upset to all this and a more centrist government comes into power, it’s possible that the result could be an easing up of this practice and a more open-door policy to welcome Jews of all stripes without the need to embrace rabbinical Judaism as the only legitimate form and expression of the Jewish faith.

There must be a way for biblical prophecy to finally be fulfilled, returning the Jewish people to their homeland, regardless of their faith and irrespective of who they believe to be the promised Messiah.

So it is not entirely impossible that God is behind all of this and that He is putting an end to a government which shut the door on Jewish believers who, for years, have been unwelcomed and shunned for their faith. Yes, God could be overruling what everyone thought was a sure thing election.

As bible believers, we pray that His Will and His Purposes are brought forth here in Israel in order to fulfill all that He has for our land, for our people and for the entire world.