Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
STEVEN PLAUT ON THE ISRAELI ELECTION
Well, the almost-final election results are in, could still change at margin as last votes of soldiers and diplomats get counted.
Some preliminary comments:
1. The election is on the surface a tie between and Kadima, with Kadima ahead by one seat in the parliament. Kadima have been loudly proclaiming this a victory, although it does not even merit being named a Pyrrhic one. More than three quarters of Israelis voted against the incumbent Kadima party. More importantly, it looks all but certain that it will be Likud that heads the new coalition government, not Kadima. It is not impossible that Likud and Kadima will form a coalition but I think it unlikely.
Livni and Kadima were the big winners of the military campaign in Gaza against the Hamas. They also benefited from the manipulative leak of the news, not necessarily factual, at the last minute before the vote, that a deal had been reached to get Gilad Shalit released from captivity. In addition, Kadima's worst handicaps, the corruption scandals involving Olmert and Hirschenson, were moot for Kadima, as the two crooks were not on the slate.
2. The Israeli Left collapsed to the worst performance in Israeli history. Meretz, which had 12 Knesset seats in 1992, won three seats out of the total of 120 parliamentary seats, less than the communist party. Zehava Galon, an crude obnoxious male-hating Hamas-appeasing far-leftist who had long been in the Knesset, lost her seat and will not be in the new Knesset. That alone is enough reason for some celebration. Part of the reason for the Meretz demise may be the fact that Haaretz called for people to vote AGAINST them. Since Meretz is still nominally Zionist Left, Haaretz opposes them and pretty clearly called upon voters to support the HADASH communist party. Meretz had 5 seats in the previous parliament so lost 40% of its parliamentary representation.
3. The Labor Party under Barak also reached its historic low with 13 seats, despite the fact that Barak was widely considered to have performed well in the "Cast Lead" attack on the Hamas savages. Labor had actually been polling even lower. Bear in mind that this is the same Labor Party, built on an original coalition of 4 different "labor" social democratic parties, which had a monopoly on power in Israel from 1948 until 1977; and once its component parts got more than two thirds of Israeli votes.
4. The "Right" performed poorly, largely because of petty bickering and also partly because Rightwing votes went to the Likud. The National Unity party had merged with the National Religious Party to create the "Jewish Home" party. But no sooner were they merged that the bickering began and half their leaders then split and re-named themselves National Unity, like the previous defunct party, maximizing confusion. The two chunks together won 7 seats (4 for NU and 3 for JH), which was less than what they held together in the previous parliament, down from 9 in the previous election.
5. The HADASH Arab Stalinist party got 4 seats. It had three in the previous parliament but 4 in the one before that. It had been expected to do better this round thanks to one of its Jewish commies running well in the contest for the Tel Aviv mayor election, getting a third of the vote there, and also because Haaretz essentially endorsed it. I doubt that more than 2% of its votes came from Jews. The three Arab fascist pro-terrorism parties together took 12 seats, up from the previous Knesset, thanks largely to the idiots at the Supreme Court overturning the banning of two of the three parties for being treasonous pro-jihad organizations. The Arab fascists were less divided than they were in the previous election and altogether increased there strength. While Labor's Ehud Barak might have recruited some for a coalition led by him, there is zero chance either Livni or Netanyahu would. Haaretz trumpeted that the "camp of the Left" did almost as well as the "camp of the Right," but that is because they count Kadima and the three Arab parties in the former. Obviously the Arab parties are irrelevant in coalition building.
6. Lieberman actually did somewhat less well than the polls had predicted. 15 seats where polls were predicting up to 20. This makes him the new coalition kingmaker and linchpin. He is a bit unpredictable but almost certain to go with Likud.
7. The religious parties did about as expected . 18 seats not counting National Unity. They are more likely to go with a Likud coalition than a Kadima one.
8. Interesting who did not get in at all. The Pensioners Party which had 7 seats at the peak of its power, did not get into the Knesset at all. Neither did the pro-pot "Green Leaf" party, a perpetual electoral nuisance, or about 15 other loopy and dopey parties. Efrain Sneh, one-time Labor Party honcho, ran in his own party and did terribly.
9. The Tel Aviv stock market does not like the results of the election. It is down between 2 and 3%, on the same day that it is announced that the gas field found near Haifa has $20 billion dollars worth of gas (and so stock market SHOULD be way up!).
10. While the Israeli of the street has moved well to the Right, it was the center (kadima + likud) that came out of the elections strong.