epa07176684 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he listens to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for the first time as Minister of Defense of Israel in the Israeli Knesset, (Israeli Parliament), in Jerusalem, 19 November 2018. Media reports state that the Netanyahu government will not go to early elections after Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party decided not to resign from the coalition. The elections are scheduled to take place in November 2019  EPA/ABIR SULTAN
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has staved off early elections after two ministers withdrew threats to resign from his coalition. EPA

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s political stalwart, survives another day



On Sunday evening, Israel’s embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was no room for politics amid “a military campaign” in Gaza, as he tried to maintain his disintegrating ruling coalition. But on Monday, his coalition government appeared to be on the brink of implosion.

His right-wing coalition partners had pushed hard for a new operation in Gaza to stop border protests and incendiary devices crossing into Israeli territory, with the defence minister resigning and painting Mr Netanyahu as weak on security. The view in Israel on Monday morning was that Mr Netanyahu's speech on Sunday night, delivered at the same time as the main network broadcasts, was the start of an inevitable election campaign.

But, in a remarkable turn of events, he managed to scare his right-wing rivals enough to prevent them from resigning over last week’s Gaza truce with Hamas, a move that would have brought down his government and heralded early elections that could have removed him from power.

In a press conference on Monday morning, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party were expected announce their resignations, following in the footsteps of Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu whose resignation last week triggered the crisis.

Instead, they launched into a withering criticism of the prime minister over his handling of Gaza clashes but stopped short of their threats to resign and leave him without a parliamentary majority, saying they would give Mr Netanyahu another chance to change direction.

An impassioned television address on Sunday and another speech in the Israeli parliament delivered moments before the pair spoke did enough for Mr Netanyahu, Israel’s second-longest serving leader, to survive another day. He had cornered Mr Bennett and Ms Shaked by accusing them of being “irresponsible” in preparing to bring down a right-wing government at a time of security challenges, a position that would have been ill-received by their nationalist base.

Their decision came a week after far-right Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned over the Gaza ceasefire that has brought relative quiet to the shared border following a botched Israeli special forces operation inside the enclave. His exit left Mr Netanyahu clinging to a single seat parliamentary majority. Aiming to limit the influence of Mr Bennett, he refused to give him the defence minister post despite the far-right faction’s demands and took the position for himself.

The far-right, pro-settler minister had demanded the defence brief but Mr Netanyahu will now serve in that capacity for at least several months. Mr Bennett accepted that but called on Mr Netanyahu to be more right-wing in his leadership.

Mr Bennett’s Jewish Home party said that the prime minister was supposed to be a right-wing leader but “acts left”. It said that the Israeli public was “tired of voting right but getting left”. That was set to be the dominant discourse in any election campaign.

According to Einat Wilf, a former member of the Knesset and fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Mr Bennett fears that with the large overlap between their parties’ bases, voters would have prioritised Mr Netanyahu’s survival over strengthening Jewish Home.

Mr Bennett’s about-face now means that Mr Netanyahu appears to have averted early elections. Mr Lieberman tried to bring about the downfall of the prime minister’s government but now he looks most likely to not make it out of the other side of this crisis.

_______________

Read more:

Netanyahu says calling Israeli snap polls now would be ‘irresponsible’

Israel's Netanyahu to hold 'decisive' meeting on coalition

Electoral pressure may push Israel into new Gaza attack, analysts say

Israel's Netanyahu struggles to stave off election pressure

_______________

Some in the Israeli parliament believe early polls are still possible given the coalition’s slim majority.

“The coalition hasn’t been functioning properly for several weeks. We will go to elections even if Bennett and Ayelet Shaked don’t resign,” Roy Folkman, chair of the centrist Kulanu faction, had told Israel’s Army Radio.

Commentators in Israel accused Mr Netanyahu of hypocrisy in trumpeting security over politics while refusing to appoint a new defence chief to oversee the Gaza portfolio. He already serves as Israel’s foreign minister. But he is now expected to appoint a new foreign minister and reshuffle other positions in his cabinet in a bid to shore up his authority.

While Mr Netanyahu’s influence over voters and ministers remains strong on security, other issues could yet cause his downfall.

He remains dogged by corruption allegations. Israel’s attorney general is deliberating over whether to indict him for bribery and breach of trust. If indicted, Mr Netanyahu would be expected to resign, the attorney general has said.

But the man who has served as Israel’s premier for more than a decade remains wildly popular, denies wrongdoing and says he has no intention of leaving. If he survives until the end of next year – whether by winning early elections or those due by next November – he would fulfill his dream of becoming Israel’s longest-serving leader.

Mr Netanyahu's strategy has long been risk averse, according to Ms Wilf.

"He's conservative in the sense that if you really don't need to change anything don't," she says. "He's not eager to make moves, either for peace or for war."

HWJN

Director: Yasir Alyasiri

Starring: Baraa Alem, Nour Alkhadra, Alanoud Saud

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: ASI (formerly DigestAI)

Started: 2017

Founders: Quddus Pativada

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Artificial intelligence, education technology

Funding: $3 million-plus

Investors: GSV Ventures, Character, Mark Cuban

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Switch Foods
Started: 2022
Founder: Edward Hamod
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Plant-based meat production
Number of employees: 34
Funding: $6.5 million
Funding round: Seed
Investors: Based in US and across Middle East

Tips on buying property during a pandemic

Islay Robinson, group chief executive of mortgage broker Enness Global, offers his advice on buying property in today's market.

While many have been quick to call a market collapse, this simply isn’t what we’re seeing on the ground. Many pockets of the global property market, including London and the UAE, continue to be compelling locations to invest in real estate.

While an air of uncertainty remains, the outlook is far better than anyone could have predicted. However, it is still important to consider the wider threat posed by Covid-19 when buying bricks and mortar. 

Anything with outside space, gardens and private entrances is a must and these property features will see your investment keep its value should the pandemic drag on. In contrast, flats and particularly high-rise developments are falling in popularity and investors should avoid them at all costs.

Attractive investment property can be hard to find amid strong demand and heightened buyer activity. When you do find one, be prepared to move hard and fast to secure it. If you have your finances in order, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Lenders continue to lend and rates remain at an all-time low, so utilise this. There is no point in tying up cash when you can keep this liquidity to maximise other opportunities. 

Keep your head and, as always when investing, take the long-term view. External factors such as coronavirus or Brexit will present challenges in the short-term, but the long-term outlook remains strong. 

Finally, keep an eye on your currency. Whenever currency fluctuations favour foreign buyers, you can bet that demand will increase, as they act to secure what is essentially a discounted property.

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

The specs

Engine: 77kWh 2 motors
Power: 178bhp
Torque: 410Nm
Range: 402km
Price: Dh,150,000 (estimate)
On sale: TBC

Company profile

Company name: Hayvn
Started: 2018
Founders: Christopher Flinos, Ahmed Ismail
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sector: financial
Initial investment: undisclosed
Size: 44 employees
Investment stage: series B in the second half of 2023
Investors: Hilbert Capital, Red Acre Ventures

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5