Israel Elections: Big Win for the Right?

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[Electoral pie map from ZWord]

Here is a roundup of material on the recent elections in Israel. The results were very close, with Kadima winning one more seat than Likud. The biggest winner was the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party and the biggest loser, Labor. Conservative parties now hold 65 seats in the Knesset, a gain of fifteen. Likud did particularly well in Judea and Samaria:

Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria went overwhelmingly for the Likud and Ichud Haleumi (National Union) parties in the 2009 elections. Of note is the dramatic increase in support for the Likud, and a drop in support for Ichud Haleumi, in comparison with the 2006 results…

While the Hareidi-religious parties essentially maintained their levels of support among Judea and Samaria communities from 2006 to 2009, the results for the center-right Likud party showed dramatic change.

In 2006, Likud managed to scrape together 12 percent of the vote in Judea and Samaria; while in 2009, the party became the clear leader in those regions. In 2006, it was Ichud Haleumi-NRP that was indisputably the leading party among Judea and Samaria voters, with 31 percent support and a 17 percent lead over the next most popular party, United Torah Judaism. As noted above, 2009 saw the Ichud Haleumi drop to second place behind Likud.

Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu both lost about 1 percent of support in these elections as compared to what they had in Judea and Samaria in 2006.

The question is, will Netanyahu and the Likud be able to form a coalition that satisfies the demands of the various parties which make up the right from  Ichud Haleumi (National Union) to Shas to United Torah Judaism?

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (Arutz Sheva) writes:

The nationalist and religious parties have held no less than 59 seats – and usually an absolute majority of more than 61 – in every Knesset since 1973, when the Alignment, an alliance of Labor and Mapam, won 51 seats.

However, the failure of the nationalist and religious parties to unite their many factions often left the Labor party able to wheel and deal with the religious parties to form a coalition.

The Washington Post describes some of the divisions on the Israeli right:

[T]he two parties that most directly benefited from those feelings in Tuesday’s vote represent distinctly different strains of right-wing thought. Likud, which is considered most likely to gain the prime ministership, has focused on the danger of giving up the West Bank to Palestinian control and the need to increase Jewish settlements there.

By contrast, the party of ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, which scored a third-place finish that vaults him into a king-making role, has promoted the notion of the enemy within…

Lieberman’s fiery anti-Arab rhetoric has invited comparisons, even among those on the more traditional right, to Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the radical Kach Party. Kach won one seat in the Knesset during the mid-1980s before it was banned for its racist views. Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu or Israel Is Our Home, on Tuesday won 15 seats, up from 11 in the last Knesset.

But Lieberman is, in many respects, isolated from the rest of the right. Unlike the religious parties and unlike Kahane, Lieberman is secular. He supports civil marriages as an alternative to religious ceremonies, a key issue among his backers. Lieberman’s appeal is strongest among fellow immigrants from the former Soviet Union, some of whom are not considered Jewish and therefore have trouble marrying in Israel.

The spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said in the run-up to the election that anyone who supported Lieberman was “helping Satan.”

Lieberman’s views on trading land with the Palestinians also make him anathema to many in Likud, who have traditionally sought to maximize Israeli holdings between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River — not give them away because their populations happen to be Arab.

Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post) notes:

The Israeli electorate spoke on Tuesday, and its message was muddled – as has been the case so often over the past 25 years.

On the one hand, it gave the nod to Livni, indicating that it did not regain its trust in Netanyahu and also that it wanted to put the brakes on what is clearly a rightward turn.

On the other hand, the voters did clearly turn right, with the right-wing bloc roundly trumping the Left, and with both Labor and Meretz losing significant ground. And there was no less a message in that than in the country’s rejection, yet again, of Netanyahu.

The message in the victory of the right-wing bloc was “enough” – enough of territorial concessions that lead nowhere, enough of military restraint that only breeds contempt. And for this deterioration of the Left, Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran can claim credit.

Abroad, the strong showing of the “neo-fascist” Lieberman and the increased strength of the “hard-line” Likud will be scorned and likely analyzed under headlines such as “Heading for disaster in the Holy Land,” or “Problems in the Promised Land.”

But those who write those headlines and analyses do not walk in our shoes or live in our homes. And here is how that home looks 15 years after the start of the Oslo process, an expressed willingness to create a Palestinian state and a proven willingness to evacuate settlements: suicide bombers circumventing the security fence, Katyusha rockets landing on roofs, Kassam missiles flying through windows, Hizbullah trying to kick through the back door, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatening to blow up the whole house.

That’s the reality that Israelis have woken up to every morning over the past 15 years, and that’s the reality that shaped Tuesday’s outcome.

Read More:

Ben Cohen (ZWord) The Art of Coalition Building

Contentious Centrist has a number of posts here, here and here.

JPost: Election Survey and other stuff here.

The Middle (Jewlicious): Israel will get a new PM

Sultan Knish provides his analysis here.

Marty Peretz (TNR/The Spine): Who’s Left to Vote for in Israel?

YNet: Election Special

And in the humor department, Snoopy (Simply Jews) brings this headline from the Times of India to my attention (via yourish.com):

Israel Has Voted for Extremists: Hamas

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