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ATP Report: Is Israeli Election Deadlock Curable?


Alex Salvi: Page Six now. One week ago, it appeared the end was near for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His opponent, Benny Gantz, emerged slightly ahead in votes and appeared to be on track to forming Israel's new ruling government. Fast forward to today, and like the Terminator himself, he's back. While the Israeli president selecting Bibi Netanyahu to form that government, opening up the possibility, the country continuing its shift to the right and offering a political lifeline to Netanyahu. Now, keep in mind, he's still facing looming indictments for corruption, and time is of the essence. Netanyahu has 28 days to gather 61 seats among a group of only 55 members of parliament who supported him in the first place. His party had a chance to do this back in April, but it couldn't pull it off, which led to a repeat election this month. And for Bibi, hopefully, a different outcome. Joining me now, the founder of the American Truth Project and Daily Ledger contributor, Barry Nussbaum. So, Barry, regarding this whole situation in Israel right now, really lay me out what the difference and what the stake is on the line for the people of Israel.

Barry Nussbaum: What is on the line, literally, Alex, is the future government of Israel for probably the next four years. Parliamentary procedure is so foreign to Americans. We can't even understand why they keep doing the same thing over and over again. There is only one hundred and twenty seats in Knesset. You must control 50 percent plus one, which is a minimum of 61 to get to be prime minister. If you control those seats, they appoint you as prime minister. In other words, you vote for the party. The party picks the leader. The leader becomes prime minister. Unfortunately for Israel, and especially for anyone trying to form a coalition, Bibi is stuck at 56. Gantz, maybe you could put together fifty-five. There's one kingmaker named Lieberman who runs a party, Israel Bantu, who refuses to join either party unless it's a coalition government of everybody. And on the left, Gantz and Lieberman refused to serve with the religious parties on the right. So, everybody is staring at everybody else, blaming everybody else. And I predict unless somebody gives in, we who are watching are going to be amazed. Israel will go to the polls again because they won't serve in the government together.

Alex Salvi: And, you know, that's a really troubling thing, because it comes at a time where there is some chaos going on in the Middle East right now, especially involving Israel. I mean, Iran is marching right up to their lines on different fronts. I mean, not only the Houthi rebels in the area but also Hezbollah. There're so many different threats being posed to Israel at this time, where national security is very much so important. So really, regarding these elections, what two directions can the country go in? I mean, we know that Bibi Netanyahu is a little bit more of a hardliner, but Gantz I mean, he's still right there, too. I mean, he's a former general. So, you wouldn't think that the directions would be that different. But a lot of people are saying that they are very much so, two very polar different directions.

Barry Nussbaum: Ironically, Benny Gantz, the general, used to be the head of the army. So, he was the most powerful soldier in Israel. He even though they say he's to the left of Netanyahu, blames Netanyahu for allowing violence from Gaza to continue without a very, very strong military response. The story from the right is Bibi didn't strike back at Gaza because he felt an armed conflict of major proportions before the election would upend the election. And then there is the wild card of President Trump's deal of this century. The question was, will Trump introduce his plan in the middle of an armed conflict? Probably not. Would he introduce it in the middle of the election? Well, the State Department said no. So, everybody's waiting, and no one knows which way this is going to go. One side or the other has to give in. And neither side at this point seems like they will. So, it's up to Lieberman to either join one side or the other, or as you said, Alex, it's elections again.

Alex Salvi: And real quick before I let you go, the U.S. is very much so interested and invested I should say, in this race. The Trump administration seems to be like it's going for Netanyahu, but really, what does this race mean for the U.S.?

Barry Nussbaum: What it really means for the U.S. is Trump has made it very clear the U.S. and this president is a friend of Israel. He happens to be a personal friend of Trump. I'm sorry, Trump happens to be a personal friend of Bibi, but he said very diplomatically, I'm referring to the president, "I'm a friend of Israel," and privately, he's a friend of Bibi. He said exactly what he should have said and not gotten involved in the election. So he handled it quite well.

Alex Salvi: Right, and as we said, the time is of the essence. Twenty-eight days Netanyahu has to form that new government, or as you're saying, we might be on for an election number three. But Barry, thank you for joining us.


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