Expert Sees Constitutional Crisis in Israel over Election Uncertainty (AUDIO INTERVIEW)
It has been a highly unusual election cycle, even by Israeli standards.
Last December, Prime Minister and Likud party head Binyamin Netanyahu, facing domestically unpopular legislation with a paper-thin coalition, called to dissolve the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and go to early elections.
The elections took place in April. The Likud and an upstart centrist party emerged in a tie as the two largest parties, yet the country’s overall political representation made it clear that Netanyahu had a better chance of forming a government, so he was given the mandate to do so.
Forming a coalition means some serious horse trading and it seems that everyone involved drove too a hard bargain, so he failed to form a government in the allotted time. But rather than return the mandate so it could be given to his rival to take a stab at coalition-building – which is what is done in such circumstances – Netanyahu engineered a successful vote for the freshly elected Knesset to dissolve itself yet again, with another national election in September.
It was an entirely unprecedented move for this 71-year-old nation. But now, in another unprecedented move, Netanyahu seems to be having second thoughts, and he’s reportedly instructed his political allies to engineer another Knesset vote, this time to cancel the outcome of the vote for dissolution and new elections.
Even the least jaded political observers here are blaming Netanyahu’s erratic and even frenzied behavior on three criminal indictments he faces for alleged corruption, and on his calculations that as long as he remains in power, he can somehow engineer a new law that makes a sitting prime minister invulnerable to criminal indictments and the resulting trials.
The Media Line spoke with Dr. Guy Lurie, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute, who thinks the ongoing saga has placed Israel in a constitutional crisis and threatens to undermine what little trust many of its citizens already have in the country’s political institutions.