The general election, initially scheduled for November will be held on April 9, that is seven months earlier than the schedule (November 2019). Hassan Hanizadeh, an expert on Middle East affairs has analyzed the various dimensions and angles of the issue in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations.
The following is the full text of the interview.
Q: What are the reasons for holding early elections in the Occupied Territories?
After the defeat of the Israeli Army in the two-day Gaza war, some extremist religious parties stepped out of Netanyahu’s coalition cabinet in protest to Netanyahu’s call to Hamas for a ceasefire. They said the prime minister had surrendered to the Palestinian militant groups with his ceasefire call. Thus, with the withdrawal of religious party leaders from the Netanyahu coalition cabinet and the dissolution of the Knesset, early elections were called to form a new cabinet and new parliament. In the next two months and after the Knesset election, a new cabinet will be formed with the participation of the winning parties.
Q: Who are Netanyahu’s serious rivals on the upcoming elections?
Among Netanyahu’s main rivals is Avigdor Liberman, leader of Yisrael Beiteinu Party. Moreover, the Labor Party and other small religious parties can also be considered serious rivals. But among Netanyahu rivals, Lieberman has a greater chance of winning. With the triumph of extremist religious parties, Liberman is likely to form a new cabinet. In that case, the Zionist regime will move towards extremism and exacerbate attacks on the Gazans, and even igniting the flames of war in the region. Therefore, it seems that in the upcoming elections religious parties and extremists have a high chance of winning.
Q: If Netanyahu is reelected, will his policies change inside and outside?
If the Likud Party led by Netanyahu wins the polls there will be no change in the policies of the Zionist regime, and he will probably follow the same policies. But at present time, the situation is different, and Netanyahu is trying to forge a military-political achievement for the Zionist regime in the wake of the early elections.
One of Netanyahu’s upcoming options is to attack Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria. In fact, the Likud Party is trying to strengthen its position in Occupied Palestine through wars in Syria and Lebanon. Hence, the Zionist regime in the future, in addition to Syria, may attack the Hezbollah military centers in Lebanon in order to achieve a military achievement to win the coming Knesset election. The Zionist regime prime minister seems to have raised the issue of the existence of tunnels between Lebanon and the Occupied Territories as an excuse to attack Hezbollah.
Q: So, the performance of the Zionist regime prime minister is very important in the next two months?
Undoubtedly Netanyahu’s performance in the next two years is very effective in his political future. In fact, if he is able to achieve a political-military achievement, he will increase his chances of winning the early elections. It should be noted that military achievements are very important for the people of the Occupied Territories because the Israeli community is an extremist one, and they usually prefer radical leaders to move on.
Q: What is the American perspective on the elections and who is their favorite candidate?
US President Donald Trump holds positive views about Netanyahu. Trump, in fact, needs an acceptable figure in the international community to justify his policies, and this figure can only be Netanyahu out of the persons available. Lieberman, another major candidate, is not widely endorsed by the US president and American diplomatic machine. It should also be borne in mind that extremist Jews play an important role in the formation of the Knesset.