For the second time this year, longstanding Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been unable to form a coalition government. Whether his rival Benny Gantz will be able to secure a majority instead is uncertain – his Blue and White alliance beat Netanyahu’s Likud by just one seat in September and parliament is heavily divided. Yet for those opposed to Netanyahu, a right-wing hawk who has been in power for 10 years and is currently facing charges of bribery, corruption and breach of trust, the time has finally come when they can wonder: what could a post-Bibi Israel look like?
It’s unclear whether anyone else who is likely to become Israel’s next leader, Gantz or otherwise, would do anything to change the basics of the moribund peace process with Palestine. However, there is definite potential for improved diplomatic relations with former allies such as the EU and the Democrats in the US – relations that have been severely damaged by Netanyahu’s aggressive stance on settlements and his support for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
Gantz, a career soldier and formerly head of the army, is known for being calmer and more measured than his firebrand counterpart but, given his significant military record, he may not be any better suited to making friends in the region. For now he remains a wild card and that’s assuming he can get into power at all. With a third election in the space of a year on the cards, all eyes are on Israel to see whether change might finally be blowing in – and if so, from what direction.