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Opinions of Friday, 18 June 2021

Columnist: Abdul Razak Lukman

Unpacking the bricks, the politics of Israel

The author says there is no limit as to how many years one may serve as Prime Minister in Israel The author says there is no limit as to how many years one may serve as Prime Minister in Israel

In a parliamentary system, as Israel has, there are usually many parties running, not the usual two like we have in Ghana or US where the Democrats and Republicans by far are the most popular and vie for power between the two of them.

In Israel, once the elections are done, the president (a symbolic and none political role) chooses a candidate from the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), based on the Knesset parties recommendations.

The president will select the candidate with the most recommendations and with the highest chance to form a stable coalition, though he is not obliged to. Once the president chooses a candidate, the candidate has 28 days to form a government.

If he does not succeed in doing so, usually, the mandate will return to the president, which will assign the task on another Knesset member. If the second candidate does not succeed in doing so either, a period of 21 days starts, in which anybody from the Knesset can get the mandate from the president, provided that he collected at least 61 signatures from the other Knesset members.

The point is that Benjamin Netanyahu as leader of the Likud party has failed to convince the other parties why they need to join his government. Probably, the things they want in return for entering into a coalition are not things Prime Minister Netanyahu and Likud party is ready to offer.

So the contradictory nature of their needs have brought Likud and Netanyahu thus far — so his political fiasco to form a government within the legally stipulated time, given way to Naftali Bennett of the opposition. This is a general reason a government is likely not to be formed in Israel after elections are held.

The complexity of Israel Knesset is that it has 120 seats which representation is given purely on the basis of proportional representation.

Meaning, the percentage of votes a party gets tells the percentage of seats to occupy in the Knesset.

Normally, Israel governments end up entering into a coalition because no political party in the history of the country has ever achieved a 61 seat majority on its own to be able to form a government without worrying of coalition.

The new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, an experienced politician with American parents is a former tech-entrepreneur who made millions before switching to, and getting deeply involved in, rightwing politics and a religious-nationalist political position.

It is instructive to know that Bennett worked for Netanyahu as a senior aide between 2006 and 2008. He left Netanyahu’s Likud party, however, after his relationship with the Prime Minister soured.

After he entered politics, Bennett aligned himself with the rightwing national religious Jewish Home party, and entered Parliament as its representative in 2013.

Here we’re today, Bennett will be leading business of the day in place of Netanyahu as leader of government and breaking the 12 years record governance of Netanyahu.

Note that in Israel, there is no limit as to how many years one may serve as Prime Minister.