Jannus TH Siahaan
Jannus TH Siahaan

Will Netanyahu stay in power?

Based on several major polls in Israel, the Likud Party is still at the forefront of obtaining seats in the Israeli parliament (knesset), with around 30 seats, then Yesh Atid dropping from 20 seats to 19, Yamina from 11 to 10 and New Hope from 10 to a record low of only eight seats. Even though he is at the forefront, it seems that Netanyahu is still dealing with a map of votes that is not yet safe to remain as Prime Minister.

Gideon Sa’ar’s party, which at one point trailed Likud by only five seats, is now in a four-way tie for fourth place, with the Joint List, Shas and Yisrael Beytenu. The poll predicted six seats for United Torah Judaism, five each for Labor, the Religious Zionist Party and Blue and White and four for Meretz and Ra’am United Arab List. Both the pro-Netanyahu and anti-Netanyahu blocs were predicted to win 49 seats, which would not be enough to form a coalition, even with the ten seats of Yamina, which could join either side. The only way to form a coalition, according to the poll, is with the support of Ra’am.

Unfortunately, the final polls conducted before elections on Tuesday all suggested continued political deadlock, as neither the anti- nor the pro-Netanyahu blocs are expected to receive 61 seats in order to form a government. Naftali Bennett’s Yamina Party, however, which is currently uncommitted to either bloc, could give the anti-Netanyahu parties a coalition.

Meanwhile, the final poll broadcasted by KAN Channel 11 gave Netanyahu’s Likud Party 31 seats, followed by Yesh Atid with 19 seats, New Hope and Yamina tied for the third largest party with nine seats each, and the Joint List is stable at eight. The ultra-Orthodox Shas Party also has eight, while United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and Yisrael Beytenu have seven seats each. Labor and the Religious Zionist Party received five seats each, while Blue and White, Meretz and Ra’am crossed the electoral threshold with four seats each.

According to Channel 11’s poll, the anti-Netanyahu bloc would have 56 seats, while the pro-Netanyahu bloc would receive 51 seats. Yamina and Ra’am, which have both not declared support for either bloc, hold the balance of power. Yamina’s nine seats could give the anti-Netanyahu bloc a coalition, and together with Ra’am, they could both give one to the pro bloc.

The situation, in political calculations, is determined by Yamina and Ra’am, but in general it will be largely determined by the figure of a Netanyahu and the achievements he has made for Israel over the past two years. These two factors will give Bibi room to gain additional support seats and gain legitimacy from the Israelis.

In recent years, no one has ever matched the international reputation of Benyamin Netanyahu. Bibi made friends with big figures in the world, ranging from American presidents, both Republicans and Democrats, to other big heads of state, whom no other figure in Israel today would be able to compete with. Thanks to this reputation, Israel now has diplomatic relations with several Islamic countries in the Middle East and Africa, such as the UAE. And even though she has not normalized diplomacy with Saudi Arabia, Bibi is a figure recognized by many who is close to Muhammad bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

Dalam berhadapan dengan pandemik Covid 19, di tangan Bibi, Israel has managed to vaccinate 90% of the at risk population thus far, leading Netanyahu to say that there will not be another lockdown. Israel has become the, “Champions of vaccination,” in Netanyahu’s words. “We are leaving the third world war, as Jews, in first place,” Netanyahu emphasized in his speech, referring to Israel’s leading strategy in the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has “Targeted the entire world and caused whole economies to crash, [but] we have won the third world war and come out first in the merit of our vaccinations,” he added.

The main problem faced by Bibi in terms of reputation at this time is the economic condition of Israel which is quite affected by the pandemic. Weak purchasing power and a high enough unemployment rate due to the pandemic will be a cause for doubt for Israelis about Netanyahu. But even so, Bibi’s success in national vaccination and in building friendly diplomacy with Arab countries will provide security assurance to the Israeli public.

The only problem remaining is the threat from Iran and all its proxies, both in Palestine, Lebanon and in Syria. Netanyahu’s diplomatic abilities will still be urgently demanded in the future, both with America, which is currently led by Joe Biden, and with the Sunni Arab world which also feels threatened by Iran. Will this reputation keep Aunt Netanyahu in the seat of Israeli prime minister? Let’s wait and see.

About the Author
Doctor of Sociology from Padjadjaran University, Indonesia. Defense and Environment Observer.
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