On Tuesday, Israel held its second national election this year. With most of the ballots counted, neither Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud coalition nor Benny Gantz’s Blue
and White grouping had enough support for their parties and their natural allies to form a new government. The absentee ballots and those of the active military are still due to be counted, so there might yet be some minor changes in the final tally, but it will not be enough to grant either of the largest parties a majority coalition.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has the job of deciding how to proceed. He can tap the leader of any party to try to form a majority or he can try to work out an arrangement for a government of national unity between Likud and Blue and White, among other options. What he will do remains a mystery, as there is no obvious and clear path to the next government.
The reason for the impasse is the same as it was back in April—Avigdor Liberman, leader of the Israel Beiteinu party. His refusal to join Netanyahu’s coalition in April, unless Netanyahu stepped down and allowed for a government of national unity, eventually led to this second round of elections, and his stance is not only unchanged, his party picked up four more Knesset seats, so his position is even stronger now.
So was it all for naught?
Not quite. While the next Israeli government is unlikely to materialize for some time, and when it does, its basic policies are unlikely to be very different than they have been for the past years—even if, as seems likely at the moment, Netanyahu is finally ousted—this election established some important facts that should not be overlooked. Here are a few of them. Read more at LobeLog
The mayor of Upper Nazareth, Shimon Gafsou, is campaigning for re-election on an openly racist platform, even by the standards set by the likes of Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett. His openly racist statements bring out some uncomfortable but crucial truths about Israel and why a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians has been so hard to reach for. I explore this week in Souciant.
A fundamental plank of any peace plan has to be universal rights and full equality for all, and that is true whether the solution is one state, two states, twelve states or no states in Israel-Palestine. I elaborate at Souciant.
In this week’s article at Souciant I look at recent shifts in the Israeli political landscape within the context of how two-staters might start to seriously rethink their approach in a post-Oslo world.
After writing my article today, which dealt with the ongoing race riots in Tel Aviv, I saw a couple of things that spurred some further thoughts, perhaps in a different vein from the piece up at Souciant.
Sign on the right: “What country are we living in? Sudan? Eritrea? Al-Qaeda in the midst of the state!!!”
One was a tweet that pointed to the riots and sarcastically added “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Now, Israel’s democracy has serious problems, and they include both social and bureaucratic methods (though as the hasbaraniks are always quick to point out, generally not legal ones anymore) of depriving its Arab citizens of full equality with Jews. It is also under attack from the right, as embodied in the words and deeds of leaders from Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and other, smaller rightist parties (including Kadima, which can only be called “centrist” in a country that has tilted absurdly to the right).
But this still stands as a perfect example of Israel being held to a different standard than other countries. There are many criticisms to level against Israeli democracy, even before we consider the West Bank; but as ugly as these riots are, they are not one of them. Continue reading →