News Roundup for March 24, 2021

March 24, 2021

Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

J Street in the News

Farewell from Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Times of Israel
J Street’s Nadav Tamir writes, “Recent faulty incidents in Israel’s crucial relations with Jordan and the UAE due to attempts by Prime Minister Netanyahu to utilize them for his personal political goals are highlighting the totally opposite manner in which Lieutenant General Ashkenazi behaved in his short term as Foreign Minister.”

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu’s Party Leads but Faces Obstacles to Forming Government in Israel, New York Times
The muddy result could extend the period of political uncertainty and polarization that has sent Israel reeling from election to election to election, failing each time to return a stable government. And it could lead to a fifth election. “The path to power for the next prime minister is very difficult,” said Mitchell Barak, a Jerusalem-based pollster and political analyst. “It’s not just the numbers but the self-constraints that each party has placed on who they can sit with. They have painted themselves into a corner.” Final results are not expected until the end of the week, and could easily change the outcome.

Israel Election Results: Kahanist Racism, Homophobia Enter Knesset After Far-right Party’s Strong Showing, Haaretz
The far-right Religious Zionism party exceeded expectations Tuesday night, with exit polls showing the party garnering between six and seven seats in the Knesset. In the final days before the election, the Religious Zionist Party, headed by Bezalel Smotrich was viewed as being in danger of falling below the electoral threshold of four Knesset seats. Bezalel Smotrich hailed the unprecendented numbers with a literal song and dance in front of his supporters on Tuesday night. “Blessed be God, this achievement is the result of the connection between those who put the Torah first,” Smotrich said. “We hope that the results will give the majority to the nationalist-religious camp so it can form a government.”

Netanyahu with narrow loss as Israel counts election votes, The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not be able to form a government for the seventh time in his three-decade political career, according to preliminary results from 97% of the regular polling stations reported by the Central Elections Committee. Netanyahu’s bloc of Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and the Religious Party was found to have won 59 seats along with Yamina, two short of a majority.


Netanyahu urges rivals to join him in coalition, warning 5th elections otherwise, Times of Israel
Recognizing that he may fall short of the votes he needs to build a viable coalition after a fourth inconclusive election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refrained from declaring victory in a speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and instead pleaded with members of rival parties to put aside personal differences and partner with him to avoid yet a fifth rapid-fire election.

Israel Election, the Day After: The Right Gears Up for Massive ‘The Left Stole the Vote’ Campaign, Haaretz
Over closed Telegram and WhatsApp groups, on Twitter and Facebook, and even on the evening news, members of Netanyahu’s Likud party, his son Yair and prominent supporters have over the past three election cycles systematically cast doubt on the integrity of Israel’s electoral process.

What electoral threshold? Blue and White, Labor, Meretz beat gloomy forecasts, Times of Israel
While the anti-Netanyahu bloc appeared Wednesday morning to be short of a clear majority, three of its smaller parties were able to breathe easier, as initial results showed that they far outperformed expectations that saw them stumbling over the electoral threshold.

Not in Anyone’s Pocket’: Islamist Party Leader Not Ruling Out Joining Netanyahu After Surprising Election Result, Haaretz
United Arab List leader Mansour Abbas said Wednesday that he is not “obligated to any bloc or any candidate,” after the Islamist party surpassed the electoral threshold, with almost 90 percent of the vote counted in Israel’s unprecedented fourth election in under two years.

Lapid vows to ‘do everything to create a sane government’, Times of Israel
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid cheered Tuesday’s election results, with his centrist Yesh Atid finishing as the second-largest party, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc appearing to fall short of a majority.

Far-right party set to gain new influence after Israeli vote, AP
An alliance of far-right groups including openly racist and homophobic candidates appears poised to enter Israel’s parliament, possibly as an indispensable member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, according to exit polls Tuesday.

Exit polls show far-right, anti-LGBT candidate slated to enter Knesset, Times of Israel
Exit poll results published late Tuesday indicated that the far-right Religious Zionism party will win up to seven seats in the elections, bringing several extremist politicians into the Knesset, including Avi Maoz, head of the anti-LGBT Noam faction.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel election: early results suggest extended deadlock, The Guardian
Oliver Homes and Quique Kierszenbaum write, “Netanyahu and Lapid will each need to convince rival parties in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, to join them to form a majority government of 61 seats. That prospect appeared in doubt for both men, suggesting a potential extension of the two-year deadlock, and even an unwanted fifth election.”

Israel Election: Meretz and Labor Have Achieved an Almost Heroic Achievement, but Should Not Be Blinded by It, Haaretz
Uri Misgav writes, “Israel’s bruised and vilified Zionist left, the object of endless ridicule by its myriad enemies and detractors – from the right to senior Haaretz opinion writers – came off the respirator on Tuesday evening and shyly reared its head. Election campaigns centered on survival and a surprising tribal loyalty kept it on the map, allowing it to do its bit towards a kind of tie with the Bibi and Kahanist bloc, a near-heroic accomplishment under the circumstances.”

Can she handle it? How the Israeli media covers women politicians, +972 Mag
Noa Balf writes, “Women running for the Knesset have to overcome not only voters’ gender stereotypes, but a media landscape that is heavily skewed in men’s favor.”