News Roundup for March 5, 2020

March 5, 2020

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Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu’s bloc likely to stay at 58 seats, The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bloc of right-wing and religious parties will remain at the 58 seats in the current vote count, three away from obtaining a blocking majority in the next Knesset, sources in the Central Elections Committee said Wednesday morning.  

Deadlocked in 3 Elections, Israel Seeks Ways to Avert a 4th, New York Times
David M. Halbfinger writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu is looking for defectors to build a majority, but his opponents are holding fast, determined to see him off into retirement.”


Netanyahu Declares Victory Among ‘Zionists’ Because ‘Arabs Not Part of the Equation’, Haaretz
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down on claiming victory in this week’s election, saying on Wednesday that he won among the” Zionist” voters because “Arabs are not part of the equation.”

Netanyahu: Gantz trying to steal the election, The Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Blue and White leader Benny Gantz of trying to steal Monday’s election on Wednesday after Gantz began efforts to pass a law that would prevent an indicted MK from forming a government.

Netanyahu’s Likud Captured Soft-right Votes From Gantz’s Party, Haaretz
A preliminary analysis of the results from Monday’s Knesset election shows that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party increased its strength for the most part by attracting “soft-right” voters in the major cities, and not due to the higher voter turnout. The shift came among voters who in the past had voted for Kulanu and Gesher and among prior supporters of Kahol Lavan who voted Likud this time.

Joint List captured almost total Arab vote, pollster calculates, Times of Israel
An estimated 87% of Arab Israelis who cast ballots in the Knesset elections on Monday voted for the Joint List, as community members rallied around the party and deserted the centrist Blue and White for the Arab-led alliance, a prominent pollster said on Wednesday.

Israel’s Arab parties make historic gains as election support surges, The Guardian
Arab politicians are set to make historic gains in the Israeli election, taking more seats than ever before and solidifying their position as the third-largest force in the Knesset, the country’s parliament.

Up to 100,000 Israelis in isolation as Israel expands traveler quarantine, The Jerusalem Post
With at least 50,000 people in quarantine, the Health Ministry on Wednesday expanded its list of restrictive orders, which will likely lead to thousands more Israelis going into home isolation. By some reports, as many as 100,000 people are currently in isolation.

Officials said to fume over ‘insane’ Health Ministry anti-virus restrictions, Times of Israel
Government officials have lambasted the Health Ministry’s increasingly strict restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus, saying the new guidelines “border on hysteria” and could place the country’s economy in jeopardy, according to a television report on Wednesday night.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel is back on the brink, Brookings
Natan Sachs writes, “Netanyahu’s allies are already hard at work trying to find individual defectors from among the parties of the center-left camp who might join his coalition. If enough are found to tip the scale — two if the preliminary results hold — Netanyahu will form a narrow coalition that would depend on every last member for their support. “

As vote-counting nears an end, five ways Israel could finally get a government, Washington Post
Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash write, “As the political horse-trading gets underway in earnest, here are five scenarios that could lead to Israel’s first functioning government in more than a year…”

The Joint List’s triumph over hate, +972 Mag
Samah Salaime writes, “The Joint List may not save this place, but it showed that it is the only real alternative to the racism and incitement of the Israeli right.”

Why I – and others like me – remain hopeful for Israeli politics and society, Times of Israel
Alexander Shapiro writes, “Through my work at Shaharit, an Israeli NGO dedicated to building a more collaborative political future; as a facilitator in Arab-Jewish encounters; and through my time living in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Lod, I have seen a different picture emerge under the surface, one of diverse Israeli citizens and leaders finding ways to collaborate with other groups towards a shared future, while maintaining their identities and traditions.”