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This article was originally published by Stratfor Worldview and is reprinted here with permission.

The collapse of Israel’s coalition government has triggered another period of political volatility that could again result in either a weak government or a new cycle of inconclusive elections. This could see more policy gridlock and social unrest as right-wing Israeli factions ramp up their inflammatory rhetoric in the hopes of securing more votes. On June 20, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that the governing coalition he leads would dissolve the Knesset before the end of the month, bringing down one of the most ideologically diverse governments in Israel’s history. In recent months, several key Knesset members have defected from the coalition, The announcement comes after the defections of several key Knesset members weakened the coalition to the point where it could no longer pass legislation. Last week, lawmakers rejected a pro-settler bill to extend a two-tier legal system in the West Bank, which — according to Bennett — served the final blow to his embattled coalition government.

If Netanyahu finds enough support in the Knesset to appoint a right-wing government, he will be able to return to power; otherwise, Israel will hold yet another round of elections in the fall. The coming days will see Netanyahu try to sway several right-wing Knesset members, and possibly even Likud splinter party New Hope, to join him in the opposition. If he’s successful, Netanyahu could call a vote that would see him return to power without the dissolution of the Knesset. But if he fails, Israel will hold what would be its fifth election in three years. Reports indicate such a vote would likely be held in October or November (after the Jewish high holidays), with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid serving as prime minister in the interim. 

If Israel holds another election and it yields either an indecisive result or a weak ruling coalition, the government will struggle to pass any major legislation, including on even basic economic issues (let alone more controversial social issues). Current polling suggests that the parties currently in power and those in the opposition will struggle to win enough seats to form a stable government. If this fragmentation is confirmed in yet another election, Israel could end up holding several more votes as it did between 2019-2021, which saw three successive elections that failed to yield a decisive winner. If there is another indecisive result, alternate prime minister Yair Lapid, Bennett or another opposition leader (like Gideon Sa’ar of the right-leaning New Hope party or Avigdor Lieberman of nationalist right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party) could put together another weak unity government. But such a government would be plagued with the same ideological divisions and policy gridlock that led to the demise of its predecessor, and would thus likely eventually share the same fate as Bennett’s collapsed coalition.

  • Current polls suggest that a potential early election would result in Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party once again having the largest number of seats in the Knesset. But Likud would still struggle to form a coalition government, as was the case in previous elections. 
  • There remains strong anti-Netanyahu sentiment among right-wing political parties due to the former prime minister’s ongoing corruption trial and failure to fulfill his promises to annex the West Bank when he was in office in 2020.

The Netanyahu-led opposition will campaign on right-wing platforms that will worsen tensions among Israelis at home, as well as strain ties with Palestinians and Israel’s Arab allies abroad.Likud’s rumored party platform for future elections includes banning Palestinian flags inside Israel and expanding settlements in the West Bank — policies designed to win the right-wing supporters of his rival Bennett and turn out Israel’s nationalists in favor of Likud. Left-wing and centrist parties, meanwhile, will campaign on maintaining stability and on working toward economic and social reforms. But such platforms are unlikely to gain traction as Israel's youth population pushes the country decidedly to the political right. As Likud emphasizes suppressing Arab and Palestinian identity inside Israel while expanding its hold on the West Bank, Israeli Arabs — still angered by the riots that broke out during the 2021 Gaza War— could react with protests, strikes and violence. Palestinians in the West Bank are also likely to use violence to protest settlement expansion. Such violence would spark diplomatic pushback from Arab states, potentially freezing Israel’s normalization efforts with Saudi Arabia. Another uptick in unrest under another Netahyanu-led government would also further embolden anti-Israel factions in the U.S. Democratic Party, whose relationship with Netanyahu — a close ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump — remains fraught.