It’s official, Israel is racing towards early elections. But no one is talking about who can vote in them.
New elections were nearly called in November 2017 after Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned in protest of Israel not going to war with Gaza and right-wing leader Naftali Bennett threatened to pull his party from the coalition if he was not given the defense portfolio. However, Netanyahu outfoxed Bennett by claiming that it was too dangerous a time to go to elections and retained the defense portfolio for himself (Netanyahu is now Israel’s prime minister, defence minister, and foreign minister), utilizing a slim 51% ruling majority.
Until last week it looked like the coalition would hold together with its small majority. But following the Knesset’s inability to reach agreement on a bill dealing with military conscription of the ultra-orthodox, and, much more importantly, leaked information that the ministry of justice was recommending Netanyahu’s indictment on charges of bribery, on Monday Netanyahu announced “It’s too difficult [to pass laws], we need elections.” With that, the Israeli national election is scheduled to take place on April 9.
Much of the already up and running election coverage is focused on the coming indictment of Netanyahu. Will he be able to stave off the attorney general until April? If he is reelected, will he try to get his coalition partners to pass a measure forbidding the prosecution of a sitting prime minister?