.
O

n 1 November 2022, Israel held its fifth legislative election in four years. After a protracted period of political instability, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in returning to power. His party, Likud, was the winner of the elections with 32 seats out of 120, followed by the liberal party Yesh Atid and the religious conservative Shas. On November 13, he formally received the presidential mandate to form a new, right-wing government.

Fiery debates have characterized the electoral campaign before the election, mainly benefiting the right-wing coalition, which obtained 64 seats out of 120 in the national parliament. The involvement of conservative religious parties in the new government, such as Shas and United Torah Judaism, alarmed many citizens and activists who feared upcoming restrictions on individual freedom. For example, Avi Maoz, a well-known leader of the religious faction, shockingly declared in early November, "we will look to outlaw the Pride Parade—first in Jerusalem, then in Tel Aviv."

However, after receiving the mandate, Netanyahu adopted more conciliatory tones. "I intend to work to broaden the zone of consensus among us," he stated. At least on domestic and security issues, there will be strong continuity with his previous governments—Netanyahu is, in fact, the long-lasting prime minister in Israeli history. One of his priorities is still to curb Iran's nuclear activities, he said: "We must determinedly take action against Iran's belligerence and foil its effort to arm itself with nuclear weaponry, which has direct designs against our existence."

The new government's breakthrough may thus concern some international dossiers that have emerged in 2022, particularly the Ukrainian issue. In the last few months, prime ministers Bennet and Lapid have been very ambiguous about the Russian invasion. The main reason explaining their position is the vital security relation Israel has built with Moscow in Syria. There, Russia allows the Israeli Defense Forces to conduct limited military operations against Iranian-backed forces stationed in the country, such as Hezbollah.

Partly in contrast with this view, Netanyahu declared during the electoral campaign that he would consider selling weapons to Ukraine if elected prime minister. He stated, "I was asked about that recently, and I said I'll look into it when I get into the office. We all have sympathy for Ukraine. It's not even a question, and I'm no different." However, many political commentators were skeptical about this statement. They underlined that Netanyahu had been very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin for years, a relationship that still lasts despite the invasion of Ukraine.

In addition, on 11 November 2022, the United Nations voted to ask the International Court of Justice for an opinion on the Palestinian territory occupation. Ukraine voted against Israel. In turn, on14 November, Israel abstained from another UN resolution holding Russia to account for its military invasion. According to some analysts, these votes have increased tensions between the two countries, probably pushing the new Israeli government closer to Putin.

Meanwhile, Moscow has also tried to exert pressure on the Israeli leadership not to provide weapons to Ukraine. As Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, warned on 17 October 2022, "Israel seems to be planning to provide arms to the Kyiv regime. This is a very reckless move. It will destroy all interstate relations between our countries." The Russian leadership, never before regionally isolated, will continue to exert its influence on Israel in the coming months.

In conclusion, Netanyahu's electoral win will impact the geopolitical landscape of the broader Middle East. The balance between key actors such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran is precarious and influenced by the invasion of Ukraine. Many economic and political interests are at stake: diplomatic alliances, the energy crisis, and food and water security. The new Israeli government will be called to answer all these crucial issues. Netanyahu will have to steer between continuity and renewal, keeping in mind that his coalition, though apparently strong, could prove weak in the long run.

About
Elia Preto Martini
:
Elia Preto Martini is an Italian journalist covering European and Middle Eastern affairs. He holds a master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Catholic University in Milan and previously worked in foreign policy think tanks and research centers. On Twitter: @epretomartini.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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Netanyahu Won in Israel. What’s Next?

Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel during the Session "A Conversation with Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel" at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 25, 2018. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Manuel Lopez.

November 30, 2022

In November, Israel held its fifth legislative election in four years. After a period of political instability, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in returning to power, and his electoral win will impact the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East, writes Elia Preto Martini.

O

n 1 November 2022, Israel held its fifth legislative election in four years. After a protracted period of political instability, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in returning to power. His party, Likud, was the winner of the elections with 32 seats out of 120, followed by the liberal party Yesh Atid and the religious conservative Shas. On November 13, he formally received the presidential mandate to form a new, right-wing government.

Fiery debates have characterized the electoral campaign before the election, mainly benefiting the right-wing coalition, which obtained 64 seats out of 120 in the national parliament. The involvement of conservative religious parties in the new government, such as Shas and United Torah Judaism, alarmed many citizens and activists who feared upcoming restrictions on individual freedom. For example, Avi Maoz, a well-known leader of the religious faction, shockingly declared in early November, "we will look to outlaw the Pride Parade—first in Jerusalem, then in Tel Aviv."

However, after receiving the mandate, Netanyahu adopted more conciliatory tones. "I intend to work to broaden the zone of consensus among us," he stated. At least on domestic and security issues, there will be strong continuity with his previous governments—Netanyahu is, in fact, the long-lasting prime minister in Israeli history. One of his priorities is still to curb Iran's nuclear activities, he said: "We must determinedly take action against Iran's belligerence and foil its effort to arm itself with nuclear weaponry, which has direct designs against our existence."

The new government's breakthrough may thus concern some international dossiers that have emerged in 2022, particularly the Ukrainian issue. In the last few months, prime ministers Bennet and Lapid have been very ambiguous about the Russian invasion. The main reason explaining their position is the vital security relation Israel has built with Moscow in Syria. There, Russia allows the Israeli Defense Forces to conduct limited military operations against Iranian-backed forces stationed in the country, such as Hezbollah.

Partly in contrast with this view, Netanyahu declared during the electoral campaign that he would consider selling weapons to Ukraine if elected prime minister. He stated, "I was asked about that recently, and I said I'll look into it when I get into the office. We all have sympathy for Ukraine. It's not even a question, and I'm no different." However, many political commentators were skeptical about this statement. They underlined that Netanyahu had been very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin for years, a relationship that still lasts despite the invasion of Ukraine.

In addition, on 11 November 2022, the United Nations voted to ask the International Court of Justice for an opinion on the Palestinian territory occupation. Ukraine voted against Israel. In turn, on14 November, Israel abstained from another UN resolution holding Russia to account for its military invasion. According to some analysts, these votes have increased tensions between the two countries, probably pushing the new Israeli government closer to Putin.

Meanwhile, Moscow has also tried to exert pressure on the Israeli leadership not to provide weapons to Ukraine. As Dmitry Medvedev, deputy secretary of the Russian Security Council, warned on 17 October 2022, "Israel seems to be planning to provide arms to the Kyiv regime. This is a very reckless move. It will destroy all interstate relations between our countries." The Russian leadership, never before regionally isolated, will continue to exert its influence on Israel in the coming months.

In conclusion, Netanyahu's electoral win will impact the geopolitical landscape of the broader Middle East. The balance between key actors such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iran is precarious and influenced by the invasion of Ukraine. Many economic and political interests are at stake: diplomatic alliances, the energy crisis, and food and water security. The new Israeli government will be called to answer all these crucial issues. Netanyahu will have to steer between continuity and renewal, keeping in mind that his coalition, though apparently strong, could prove weak in the long run.

About
Elia Preto Martini
:
Elia Preto Martini is an Italian journalist covering European and Middle Eastern affairs. He holds a master's degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Catholic University in Milan and previously worked in foreign policy think tanks and research centers. On Twitter: @epretomartini.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.