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Gil Hoffman

Nola Lazar,Regional JNF President for Manitoba and Saskatchewan presenting Gil Hoffman with a book "The Four Hundred Journey in Search of Peace" as a thank you to him

Gil Hoffman, Chief Political Correspondent of the Jerusalem Post at JNF event: Most likely there will not be third elections in Israel

by Rhonda Spivak, November 14, 2019

Gil Hoffman, Chief Political Correspondent and Analyst For the Jerusalem Post  told a crowd of some 75 people at Adas Yeshurun Herzlia synagogue that in his estimation there would not be third elections in Israel. Rather in his view "the most likely scenario is a  national unity government" between Likud ("not necessarily with Netanyahu") and Benny Gantz's Blue &White party. Netanyahu was given the first mandate to form a government and failed, and Gantz has until Wed Nov 21 to form a government , and then after that there are 21 days given to see if any other parliamentarian can form a government. If no one does there will be a 3rd election that will fall on Purim.

Hoffman said, "We went to second elections because no one thought it could happen."  He added, "I don't think we'll go to third elections because now we know it can happen."

Regarding a national unity government, Hoffman noted that everyone is waiting for the outcome of Netanyahu's legal woes. Hoffman indicated that it is expected that the Attorney General will decide Netanyahu's fate at the end of November. Hoffman added that if he isn't indicted on bribery then Netanyahu thinks it will be easier for him to form a coalition.

Hoffman told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that  "if  Netanyahu is indicted on breach of trust and fraud [but not bribery] that  will not be enough to take him down," and he will be Israel's Prime Minister. But as Hoffman elaborated if Netanyahu is indicted on bribery,  there will be "tremendous pressure" put on Likud from the media and the public  "to force him out."

Hoffman, a reserve soldier in the IDF Spokesman's Unit, has lectured in every major English-speaking country in the world, more than half the Canadian provinces, and recently made history in Hawaii by becoming the first speaker to have lectured about Israel in all 50 US states.

Hoffman pointed out that 2/3 of Israelis say that if Netanyahu is indicted he has to quit.

Recently Netanyahu made Naftali Bennett of the New Right party the Minister of Defense, something Bennett has always wanted. In exchange the New Right and Likud factions merged. Hoffman explained that Netanyahu did this because he had a genuine concern that the New Right party could join together with Blue & White in a coalition.

Hoffman said that as of now "the Likud competitors don't have the courage to go against Netanyahu." He noted that  Likud has a strong tradition of loyalty to its leaders. The party has only had four leaders, including the early years when it as known as Herut. Contrast that to Israel's once- dominant Labour Party, which has ad 10 leaders just  since 2001.

"Israelis don't like Netanyahu as a person but as a leader. He has persuaded Israelis that only he can keep them safe," Hoffman stated. Hoffman noted Blue &White brought together three leading generals, but this had no impact as Israelis still favoured Netanyahu as being the one who would keep them safe.

Hoffman indicated that Benny Gantz, who was "the last soldier to leave Lebanon" has tried not to express any opinions on anything, in order that he doesn't offend anyone and give them reason to disagree with him. He did say that Gantz wants to reach out more to progressive Jews in the Diaspora than Netanyahu has.

Hoffman explained that President Rivlin tasked Netanyahu with forming a government first because Gantz didn't want to go first. He got 3 members of Knesset from the Joint Arab list not to recommend him so that Netanyahu would have more recommendations than Gantz. Gantz figured that he would have a better chance at forming a coalition if he tried to form a government after Netanyahu failed. (Editor's note: If Likud and Blue and White decide to form a unity government while Gantz has the mandate to form a government, then legally Gantz would have to be prime minister first not Netanyahu since Gantz has the mandate to form a government).

Hoffman outlined how President Rivlin's ’s unity government scheme would see power equally divided between Netanyahu and Gantz, who would each serve two years as premier. In setting out his idea in September, Rivlin implied that Netanyahu would take an open-ended leave of absence if or when he is indicted in one or more of the probes in which he faces charges. Under the arrangement set out by Rivlin, Gantz, as “interim prime minister” in such a scenario, would enjoy all prime ministerial authority.

Hoffman spoke about one possible outcome which is that Gantz forms a center-left minority government and relies on the Joint List of Arab parties and Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beytenu party  who will support it from the outside. This is seen as unlikely since the right wing Lieberman would not want to team up with the Arabs to keeps the minority coalition afloat. The other option is a right-wing Haredi government headed by Netanyahu which would occur  if, for example, Lieberman were to come back into the right-wing fold.

Hoffman also reviewed the cases against Netanyahu. Case 1000" revolves around valuable presents and gifts received by Netanyahu, and his family throughout the years from several known wealthy acquaintances of the family. "Case 2000" deals with recorded conversations Netanyahu had with the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, one of the largest newspapers in circulation in Israel. During these conversations Netanyahu is believed to have proposed to push legislation harming Yedioth's major competitor, Israel Hayom, in exchange for more flattering and positive coverage of himself in Yedioth. Case 4000 revolves around suspicions Netanyahu pushed regulatory decisions benefiting Bezeq controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch  in exchange for positive coverage from the Bezeq-owned Walla news site.

On the subject of Trump's peace plan, Hoffman said that from what is known about the plan, "not a single Jew would have to move," and Trump has also said that "there would be some sort of Palestinian capital in Jerusalem." Even if the Palestinians boycott the Trump peace plan, Hoffman pointed out that once the Trump peace plan is unveiled, "it changes things." Just like there is  now a Camp David plan, there will be  a new Trump plan. Hoffman indicated that what is different about Trump's plan is that "the Saudis are willing to take a major role." Israel will normalize relations with Saudia Arabia and its allies. Both Saudia Arabia and Israel do not want to see a strengthened Iran in the future.

Well-connected to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Hoffman has interviewed every major figure across the Israeli political spectrum, has been interviewed by top media on six continents and is a regular analyst on CNN, Al-Jazeera and other news outlets. Hoffman, who  spoke of his desire to interview people at eye level. He had a difficulty interviewing Gantz because Gantz is 6 foot 5 inches. As a result Hoffman sat on a lot of pilllows when interviewing him. When he interviewed Netanyahu he said he came back smelling of cigars.

Hoffman also noted that in this past September election, 70% of Israelis voted.

Hoffman praised the work of the JNF. "Peace in the Middle East is seen in the parks [built by JNF] where Mohammed and Menachem Mendel play side by side," he said. Hoffman also spoke about the importance of JNF plans to develop the Negev and expand its population. The Negev makes up 60% of the land mass of Israel but only 8% of Israelis currently live there.

Regional JNF President for Manitoba and Saskatchewan spoke highly of  the work  of Ariel Karabelnicoff, JNF's outgoing executive director who will be taking up a new position. 

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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