Senior coalition member: Biden victory will hasten Israel elections

Unnamed senior member of Israel’s government says Netanyahu may go to the polls in the hopes of building a more right-wing coalition to confront a Biden administration.

By World Israel News Staff

A senior member of the coalition government says a victory by Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the U.S. presidential election will “hasten new elections in Israel,” a published report said Friday.

“Netanyahu has an open door to the [Donald Trump] White House. He may no longer have such strong ties with a Biden White House,” the unnamed Knesset member told the Media Line.

“It would be easier for Netanyahu to [hold an election and then] deal with a Biden White House while leading an ultra-right-wing coalition rather than today’s centrist coalition,” said the source, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition unity government.

“With a Democratic presidency, things will be different regarding the Palestinians in the West Bank. With an ultra-right-wing government, it will be easier for Netanyahu to deal with a Democratic president by protesting to the Americans: ‘I am the most moderate person in my coalition. I can’t do what you ask,’” said the coalition member, who was identified as a “senior parliamentarian.”

Although the results are still not final and neither President Trump nor Biden has been declared the winner, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon told Israel Army Radio Thursday morning that “Israel needs to be grateful to President Trump, and now, to get used to the fact that Biden’s going to be taking over.”

“Things will get harder for us on several significant issues,” he said. “Biden wants to renew the Iranian nuclear agreement, for example. And in the international sphere, we’re going to have to explain ourselves in a lot of areas, whereas before, our positions were simply accepted.”

However, Israeli politics have been rife with talk of new elections for the past several months, and it is not clear that a Biden victory would be enough to make that actually happen.

The coalition government is already facing pressure from the Blue and White Party led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, using elections as a threat to get Netanyahu to stop delaying a national budget. Israel has yet to pass its 2020 budget with a December deadline to do so or elections will automatically be held. Gantz is also demanding Netanyahu approve a budget for all of 2021 by the same date.

Under their coalition agreement, Gantz is set to replace Netanyahu as prime minister in November 2021. But with opinion polls showing he would likely not be able to form a right-wing government should elections be called now, Netanyahu appears to want only short-term budgets. Having the 2021 budget in place would add to political stability and the chance of Gantz assuming office under the agreement.

An Israel Supreme Court decision on Tuesday to force the government to legislate a solution by February to the draft of ultra-Orthodox men into the IDF also reduces the likelihood of new elections in the short term. The religious Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, both coalition members, will be putting on pressure to pass legislation to keep their constituents out of the military, which is not possible if the country goes to elections.

That military service bill means the religious parties will want to avoid elections, giving Gantz leverage to demand a budget from Netanyahu.

“Gantz has a strong card against the ultra-Orthodox,” the Srugim news website commented. “They need a recruitment law within three months, and he needs two budgets within two months. The deal will be simple: transfer of budgets for the passage of the draft law – or the dissolution of the Knesset before the passage of the law.”