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Israel’s right, left disintegrate ahead of March elections

Israeli politics is no longer divided between right and left with a pragmatic center in between as Benjamin Netanyahu rewrites the rules of the game.
Israeli protesters gather with national flags during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near his private home in the coastal town of Caesarea in northern Israel, on December 12, 2020. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Imagine that rather than the Eastern and Western conference champions facing off at the NBA finals, three or four groups from each side crowd into the court, jostling each other for space, and instead of playing basketball engage in a free for all melee egged on from the bleachers. This, more or less, is a current snapshot of Israel’s political arena, just over 11 weeks before a fourth round of elections is scheduled for March 23.

In the evening hours of Dec. 29, timed to coincide with prime time television news, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai announced he was forming a new political party. The decorated former fighter pilot and war hero appeared in front of the cameras alongside Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, who just minutes earlier had quit the crumbling Blue and White Party led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Last week, Knesset member Ofer Shelah announced he was forming a new party after quitting Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. Earlier today Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said he will not run again within Blue and White and that he is taking some time off from politics, perhaps to consider a new political framework.

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