Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu on March 1 reportedly promised that if he is re-elected for another term, he will annex the West Bank within weeks. Israel is all set to head to the polls for the third time in a year on March 2.
While talking to Israeli state media about re-election, Netanyahu said that annexation of Jordan valley and other parts of the West Bank was his top priority among his four major immediate missions. He further said that it would happen a within weeks, if not then within the next two months adding that the joint US-Israeli mapping committee has started the work a week ago.
Israel heads into its unprecedented third election in less than a year Monday after a tumultuous campaign that saw the prime minister indicted on corruption charges, President Donald Trump release his much-anticipated Mideast plan and various mergers and machinations that reshuffled Israel’s fragmented political world.
Yet, despite the flurry of activity, public opinion polls are predicting a similar result to the previous two inconclusive elections. This would again leave a divided Israel deadlocked as neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his chief challenger Benny Gantz have been able to build a coalition government with their traditional partners.
Netanyahu’s ruling hard-line Likud party and Gantz’s centrist Blue and White faction are running neck and neck in the polls seeking to become the largest party in hopes of being tapped to form the next coalition. But both appear to have limited options to cobble together the support of a majority of parliament’s 120 members.
Netanyahu’s corruption trial is set to begin two weeks after the vote, complicating his future. But Gantz, a former military chief, doesn’t have an easy path to the premiership either. After the vote, Israel’s largely ceremonial president will choose a candidate for the Prime Minister who he believes has the best chance of putting together a stable coalition. It usually goes to the head of the largest party, but this is not always necessarily.