Israelis went to the polls in an early election on April 9 – an election did not need to be held until seven months later. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, faced with increasing dissension within his right-wing coalition, a new and credible opposition party, and the possibility of looming criminal indictments in three corruption cases, sensed he would fare better sooner than later in his quest to remain head of Israel’s government.
When the votes were tallied, Netanyahu’s Likud Party had 35 seats, the party’s best showing since Ariel Sharon led Likud to 38 seats in 2003. And although the new Blue and White Party – led by Benny Gantz, a former chief of the Israel Defense Forces – also won 35 seats, Netanyahu was tasked by President Reuven Rivlin with forming a coalition government because the right-wing bloc of parties who indicated their likely support for him formed a majority of the 120 members elected to the Knesset. [Read more…]