Israeli Elections

by Brien Jackson

As you’ve no doubt heard by now. It appears that Kadima narrowly edged Likud in the popular voting for the Knesset, in something of an upset. However, because the right-wing “neo-fascist” (and those are Marty Peretz’s words!) Yisrael Beiteinu party, led by Avigdow Lieberman, came in third, it seems most likely that Bibi Neythenau will be asked to take the first crack at forming a government. And it appears that there’s roughly 64 mandates between Likud, YB, National Torah Judaism, Jewish Home, Shas, and the National Union parties, out of 120 total seats, meaning that a far-right government with Bibi as Prime Minister and Lieberman as his main Jewish partner is likely to form. And considering that, for all the rise of Lieberman obscured the fact, Kadima is still a center-right party and the center-left Labor list came in 4th, there’s almost no left of center presence whatsoever in the Knesset.

Judging the practical revelations of this, it should be fairly clear that the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” is more or less dead at this point, or at the very least on hold indefinitely. With Hamas more popular than ever in the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, and with a far-right government taking over in Israel, both sides are essentially dominated by groups that want nothing to do with a peaceful settlement that would be acceptable to both sides. Indeed the real question now is how much the new Israeli government will increase settlement activity, particularly in the West Bank, and whether it will leave the two-state solution more or less impossible for good. I think the idea that the Palestinian people are likely to want to be incorporated into the Israeli state anytime soon is unlikely, but it’s also true that the current state of things can’t really go on indefinitely either.

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