Israel to hold elections on March 17
Were Israel to hold an election now, Netanyahu's party would take 22 of parliament's 120 seats; Bennett's 17; Lapid's 9 - @Channel2NewsPrime Minister Netanyahu fired Ministers Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni on Tuesday, effectively bringing about the government's fall. It's been less than 21 months since the last election.
— Dan Williams (@DanWilliams) December 2, 2014
One reason he felt comfortable doing this is the tweet above. Lapid's party (which currently has 19 seats) will be cut in half, while I've seen polls that indicate that Livni's party will disappear.
The likely beneficiary of the move is the Jewish Home party leader, Naftali Bennett.
Bennett stands to gain because, according to every single poll, his party is the only one that can be expected to grow by 50% or more in the ballots. Presently, Jewish Home has 12 MKs. The polls predict 17, 19, maybe more. These numbers are commensurate with those Bennett had in the polls in late 2012, before an extremely hurtful – and self-injuring – Likud election campaign reduced his public support.
Bennett is now the likely candidate for minister of defense, come April. Since defense is Bennett's forte – although finances are certainly not a point of weakness for the all-Israeli hi-tech superstar economics minister – this is without a doubt the position he is angling for. The public is not ready for Bennett as prime minister, and people close to him, like Minister Uri Orbach, say so too. But a successful and dominant defense minister who brings security back to the Israeli streets, and possibly spearheads a strike on Iran's nuclear industry, later in his term, is a shoo-in to replace Binyamin Netanyahu at the country's helm, when the time comes.
Leaks from Netanyahu and Bennett's immediate surroundings confirm that Bennett has been talking to Netanyahu about the position of defense minister, post-elections, and that Netanyahu has come to accept that Bennett will be his most senior partner in the next government. Bennett confirmed as much – most likely intentionally – when he scolded Minister Uri Ariel the other day, and told him that his insistence on taking up more space on the Jewish Home list than Bennett is willing to give him will cost the party the defense minister's position.For more analysis of Bennett's moves, read the whole thing.
Others who may benefit from the March 17 elections (which were agreed upon by party heads on Wednesday morning - the government should officially fall on Wednesday afternoon) are the Haredi parties.
Primaries will be held in Likud and Jewish Home in early January, with votes on the head of the Likud on January 6 and similar votes for leadership of Jewish Home the day before.
Hareidi MK Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) spoke about the recent polls that indicate Netanyahu will need the hareidi parties in order to form a new coalition, saying "according to the polls we see that without the hareidim it's impossible to move, no?"
Netanyahu accused Lapid the night before of trying to form an alternate coalition to replace him with the hareidim, even as Lapid denied siding with the hareidim in pubic statements. Netanyahu likewise denied reports he had sought out a coalition with the hareidim.The election's timing is likely to help the Haredim. It occurs on the Tuesday before the end of the winter semester in Yeshivas and Kollelim (the semester ends on Thursday the 19th in most of them). That means the final run-up to the election won't interfere too much with studies, while the vote will take place before many of the scholars leave for the Passover holiday. Hmmm.
For those who are wondering about my relative silence over the last couple of days, I have been busy earning a living this week....