Is Israel a Jewish state powered by its conservative, religious base or is it a secular state that pushes aside tradition? Is it the unabashed ally of the United States or are they hoping to move forward without input from Washington DC? Those two answers are really what will be decided in Tuesday’s election, and things will change between the United States and its best ally in the Middle East if there’s a major shakeup in the Israel government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political life as his Likud Party seeks to not only get the most seats in the Knesset but also help their allies on the right win enough seats to allow the conservatives to form a coalition government. Both obstacles must be overcome in order for his pro-Israel and pro-America agenda to stay intact.
If Benny Gantz and his Blue and White Party are victorious (they tied with Likud in April), then Gantz will likely be tasked with forming a government that is center-left. He’ll need some help from the center-right to form his government, but it will almost certainly be made with an understanding that the policies protecting the ultra-orthodox Jews, which represent around 10% of the population, will be removed. It would also change the direction of any Middle East peace plan the White House may present.
Even if Likud wins but does no have enough seats won by conservative parties, Netanyahu will still have to look to Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beitenu Party to form a coalition. Lieberman refused to side with Netanyahu in April without the ultra-orthodox Jewish protections removed, which forced Israel to have this second round of 2019 elections. Yisrael Beitenu is expected to win even more seats this time, and unless there’s a surge for conservative parties, the new government will be center-right at best as Netanyahu will be forced to form a unity coalition with Lieberman and Gantz.
America needs Netanyahu to stay in power, but we also need his government to be built on a conservative platform. Neither Gantz nor Lieberman are anti-American, but they will not work as diligently on behalf of Israeli and American interests against Iran, Hezbollah, or Hamas. This will compel the United States to take a more active role in the region; currently, a strong Israel allows the United States to be much less aggressive when it comes to preventing catastrophes like a nuclear Iran or the expansion of threats to our interests in the Middle East.
Israelis will decide Tuesday if they like the direction the nation is going or if they want to explore other options. Unfortunately, those “other options” will likely include less engagement with their greatest ally, the United States.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
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