“Without wise leadership a nation fails.” (Proverbs 11:14, NLT) It has been two weeks since we last wrote about the formation of an Israeli government. Much has transpired that has left us no closer to a resolution than before. There have been behind the scenes negotiations, important ministerial appointments, ultimatums, a brief war, and we find ourselves closer to another round of elections than ever before.
The time limit for Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue-and-White Party, to form a coalition expires November 20. At that point, a 21 day period begins during which any member of the Knesset (parliament) can try to piece together a coalition. If this does not happen, Israel will head towards its third round of elections in less than a year. In that case, polls indicate the stalemate would continue. Our leaders, meanwhile, have been able to agree on one critical issue: Without an official government and budget, the country will soon destabilize and its social structures will start to disintegrate.
Benny Gantz has not been able to recruit party leaders from Netanyahu’s Likud-based, right wing block, a necessary step for him to form a coalition. One such leader, right winger Naftali Bennett, announced a willingness to join Gantz. But within two days he was appointed Defense Minister by PM Netanyahu, thereby removing any possibility of defecting to Gantz.
Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Israel-Our-Home Party, recently said he would join forces with whoever demonstrated willingness to compromise to create a government. Rebuffed by Netanyahu, he is presently working out an agreement with Gantz. But without Likud, they still fall short of the minimum number of seats to form a coalition. As we write, President Rivlin is strongly urging Likud to join a Gantz-Liberman alliance, or at least ally with Blue-and-White. However, this would require Netanyahu to abandon the ultra-Orthodox religious parties, which he still refuses to do.
After last week’s short war with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Israeli Arab parties blasted the government, voicing unified support for the terrorists. Since then, Netanyahu has characterized any government that includes the Arab bloc as an existential threat to the State of Israel. (He was not referring to the minority of Arab leaders who are upstanding and willing citizens of a Jewish state,) It seems unlikely the Arab bloc will be part of any coalition in the near future. They could actually end up as the main opposition party, which would give them, as Netanyahu warns, unprecedented power in the very country they openly seek to destroy as a Jewish state.
Attorney General Mandelblit could announce his intent to indict Netanyahu by the end of this month. This would remove one layer of uncertainty in the chaos, but likely replace it with a third election in which an acting prime minister under criminal indictment would run for political office. The practical and legal impact of such a scenario represents unchartered territory.
As we face another turbulent week in the land of milk and honey, we are not without focus on God’s overarching purposes and direction in prayer.
- It seems only God can break through this stalemate situation, which is not by accident. He has graciously regathered us to lovingly turn our hearts back to Himself. More and more Israelis, some of whom do not typically pray, have begun praying for a government to form. Personally and as leaders of the Israeli Prayer Network, we are crying out to Him, prayerfully proclaiming Micah 2:12-13: “I will surely gather Jacob–all of you! I will surely gather the remnant of Israel. I will put them together like sheep in a pen, like a flock within its pasture…One breaking through will go up before them. They will break through, pass through the gate and go out by it. Their King will pass through before them—Adonai at their head!” (TLV)
- God is shaking what can be shaken so that what cannot be shaken will remain. (Hebrews 12:26-27) In the shaking, we are praying and proclaiming that anti-Messiah strongholds in our government be displaced, according to Isaiah 9:6-7: “…The government will rest on His shoulders…Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” Much of the anti-Messiah stronghold relates to ultra-Orthodox religious control.
- Behind the scenes discussions involve a couple of Christian and Messianic Jewish believers in Israel. This is not a rumor; we have spoken with individuals who have personal and direct knowledge of these developments. We pray for a spirit of wisdom and counsel, as well as favor, on these believers. May they speak words from God’s heart. May He move the hearts of leaders who hear them, according to His will. (Proverbs 21:1)
- The limited military confrontation in Gaza a few days ago was much about restraining Iran. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) is an Iranian proxy, as is Hamas. (Thankfully for Israel’s sake, PIJ and Hamas are in conflict with each other.) Israel’s military response this week was calculated not only to defend the nation, but in consideration of longer range goals pertaining to Iran. Please pray for divine wisdom and protection concerning Iran. Pray for nations to wake up to the reality of the Iranian threat and muster the courage to quell it. Prayerfully proclaim that only God’s sovereign timing for the war prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39, involving Iran, will come to pass. And pray comfort on those harmed by the last week’s terror barrage.
- As always, the heart of God yearns for Israel to turn to Him, trust in Him and be saved. Amid the instability, pray that we turn and stand on the Rock of our salvation. May His grace continue to uphold the remnant of Jewish and Arab Israelis who love and follow Jesus. May His grace chase after those who do not yet know His mercy in Messiah. “Just as you [Gentiles] who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their [Israel’s] disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you….Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11:33)