Jan 13, 2020

Benjamin Netanyahu's bad day

Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a very bad political day.

Driving the news: Less than 50 days before Israel's third elections in a year, three new political developments will make his efforts to get re-elected much harder.

1. The three corruption indictments against Netanyahu are a defining factor in the election, particularly now that he is seeking parliamentary immunity.

  • In order to buy time, Netanyahu has attempted to stall the formation of the committee that will consider that immunity request.
  • But the opposition — led by Benny Gantz and the Blue and White party — today managed to get a majority to vote to approve the committee.
  • Members from Netanyahu's Likud Party were shocked to find themselves in the minority for the first time in 11 years.
  • What to watch: Blue and White’s goal is to strip Netanyahu of immunity within weeks so that his trial might start before the March 2 elections.

2. On the left...

  • Two left-wing parties, Labor and Meretz, announced today that they will join forces for the election, running on one list.
  • Why it matters: Both parties were in danger of falling below the electoral threshold, potentially shrinking Gantz's center-left bloc and making it harder for him to replace Netanyahu.

3. On the right...

  • The two parties to the right of Likud, the New Right and Jewish Home, announced today they will not run together on one list.
  • Why it matters: Those parties are also in danger of falling short of the threshold, and if either does that would be a big blow to Netanyahu's right-wing bloc.

Go deeper: Gantz says release of U.S. peace plan before Israel's elections would be "interference"

Go deeper

Israel's Netanyahu, Gantz take a break from campaigning to visit the White House

Benny Gantz, Blue and White Party leader. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

The two main contenders in Israel’s March 2 elections — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of Blue and White party Benny Gantz — separately meet with President Trump today at the White House to discuss his peace plan, which is expected to be released tomorrow.  

Why it matters: Trump made this unusual move of inviting Netanyahu and Gantz, who is considered a party leader but holds no official position, because he wants to make sure both are on board regarding his peace plan, regardless of who wins the elections.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

Netanyahu surrenders immunity, faces corruption trial

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House on Monday. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has surrendered his immunity from prosecution just minutes before the Knesset was set to form a committee expected to strip it from him.

The latest: Israel's attorney general has now sent the indictments against Netanyahu — for bribery, breach of trust and fraud — to the Jerusalem district court.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

Gantz changes course, calls on Trump to release Middle East peace plan

A banner for Gantz (right) near one of Netanyahu and Trump ahead of September's elections. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

Benny Gantz, leader of Israel's Blue and White Party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top political rival, backtracked today on his request that President Trump not release his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan before Israel's March 2nd elections.

Why it matters: This removes a major obstacle to the plan's release. The shift seems to be based on a calculation that if Trump were to release the plan in coordination with Netanyahu, and against his wishes, Gantz would appear to lack influence in Washington.

Go deeperArrowJan 21, 2020