Israeli citizens have been scratching their heads for a week, trying to figure out why the beleaguered state of Israel is about to spend $100M on early elections when the government appears stable and a war is looming.
The nation's leading pundits have also not been able to provide a clear explanation for the move. The leading television news channel, Channel 2, has offered two reasons for the decision to call the election.
One, offered by ultra-leftist reporter-analyst Amnon Abramovich, is that the elections are a sly move by Binyamin Netanyahu, intended to create the ideal political circumstances for a strike on Iran in September or October.
Abramovich explained that by September, Netanyahu will presumably be in the process of forming a new government, following the elections. He will be standing at the head of an interim government, which will eventually be replaced by the new coalition. A strike on Iran at this point – even if it is not perceived as successful – will no longer be able to affect the result of the election, and thus Netanyahu will be in a political "safe zone" that will give him maximal maneuvering space, as far military moves are concerned.
Abramovich's theory was intercepted in mid-air, however, by another one of the channel's ultra-leftist political reporter-analysts, Rina Matzliach. Just over a week ago, Matzliach was the first reporter to state conclusively that Israel is about to enter an election season, and events appear to have proven her right.
Matzliach's opinion is that it was recently retired Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch who made the elections happen. It was Beinisch who handed down a decision to annul the Tal Law regulating the recruitment of hareidim to the IDF, and to set a firm date for its expiration, she noted. According to Matzliach, by doing this Beinisch essentially forced Yisrael Beiteinu's Avigdor Lieberman to put forth his alternative to the Tal Law, and made it impossible for Netanyahu to hold together his coalition, which also relies on hareidi parties.
Matzliach's analysis is in line with a statement made by United Torah Judaism's MK Yaakov Litzman, who said after Beinisch's ruling that she had intentionally left it for the end of her term. "This matter was on her table for four years," Litzman told IDF Radio. "She did not make a decision until the last moment. This decision on the Tal Law is a 'hit and run' by Beinisch."
The two theories could both be true: Beinisch can be seen as the person who created the problem for Netanyahu, destabilizing his government at a critical juncture, and Netanyahu's decision to call early elections without delay could be his way of solving the problem as soon as possible without letting it stand in the way of a strike on Iran.