MSNBC’s Katy Tur didn’t even try to conceal her surprise and consternation at the fact that Israel will now be heading into yet another election.
For the record, that will be the 5th election in 3 years. And you thought the never-ending American election cycle was bad.
During a segment on “MSNBC Reports,” Tur spoke to NBC News foreign correspondent Raf Sanchez, who helped explain what was going on in the turbulent Israeli political scene.
“The new election could—emphasis on could—send Benjamin Netanyahu back to the prime minister’s office,” Tur began the segment, clearly exasperated by the whole situation. “Raf, Raf, Raf, Raf,” she said to her guest, “how could this possibly be? How could this possibly be? They have had so many elections over the last few years.”
Sanchez responded by conceding that it was true—and mentioned the one unmentionable thing: the possible return of Benjamin Netanyahu.
“That is the question a lot of Israeli voters are asking themselves,” Sanchez said. “‘Here we go again, the fifth election in three years.’ This has basically been one long rolling political crisis. And Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister of Israel, who has been in power for 12 years at various points, has a real spring in his step tonight.”
Sanchez added: “He’s been on TV here in Israel, he’s looking bullish. This is a real chance for him potentially to return to power when these new elections happen in October.”
“What’s so extraordinary about that is this is a man who is on trial for criminal corruption charges, and yet the polls show that if the election were held today, his Likud Party would be the single biggest party in parliament and he would be in position to form yet another government. Katy, we just learned in the last couple of minutes that Joe Biden’s trip to Israel in mid-July is going to go ahead as planned. That was not a total given. There was some thinking maybe the White House would not want to insert the president into yet another Israeli election season.”
Sanchez hastened to add that the White House views the relationship between the United States and Israel as one that is strong and steadfast irrespective of who is in power. However, it is Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid who will be greeting Biden, rather than prime minister Naftali Bennett. Israel’s coalition government, meanwhile, is looking to dissolve the Knesset—Israel’s legislative body—as early as Wednesday in a desperate bid to forestall Netanyahu’s Likud Party from establishing an alternative government.
“[Biden] is going to be greeted by Yair Lapid, who is right now the foreign minister, but he’s going to serve as the interim prime minister of Israel for the next couple of months until after that election. Lapid is a centrist, he’s a liberal. He’s somebody the Biden administration feels that they can do business with. He’s not going to embarrass the president when he arrives in Israel, next month.”
More to the point is whether Biden is going to embarrass Lapid.
“These elections are extremely costly,” Tur observed, “and they weigh on the patience of the Israeli people. What happens if they hold another election, or when they hold another election, and, say, there isn’t a majority, an easy majority?”
“That’s the extraordinary thing,” Sanchez replied. “There is actually a big right-wing majority in this country. Right-wing parties win the majority of seats in elections over and over again.” Nevertheless, Sanchez explained, many of these right-wing parties refuse to enter into a coalition government with Netanyahu on account of the corruption allegations that hang like a cloud over his head.
“And I’ll tell you, Katy,” Sanchez added, “speaking to Israelis tonight, there are a lot of slumped shoulders that the democratic process just does not seem to be delivering any firm results.”
That’s a sentiment Americans can all sympathize with.
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