Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Israel elections: Benjamin Netanyahu wins narrow victory

Okay, so I scheduled this post the night before you will be reading it, dear reader, so hopefully nothing horrible went wrong with the Israeli elections but it appears that Bibi Netanyahu will remain in power in Israel and that is a good thing.  Right now, with what Netanyahu has had to battle on all fronts with Iran, Obama, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and a world that never ceases to want to screw the country of Israel, it's best that this man carries out the policies that have been outlined and laid down.

The story comes from The Telegraph.

Israel elections: Benjamin Netanyahu wins narrow victory

The Israeli prime minister claimed the people had given him a mandate to form a "broad-based government" despite indications that voters had delivered a major blow to him, with his Likud Beiteinu bloc on course to win just 31 seats. Although still the largest party in the new Knesset, the projected result represents the loss of 11 seats and is fewer than opinion polls had predicted.

As polling stations closed, exit polls showed that Right-wing parties projected to win 61 or 62 seats in the country's 120-member parliament. The centre-Left bloc was forecast to win between 58 and 59 seats.

In the night's major surprise, the Centrist Yesh Atid party emerged as the second biggest party, with 19 seats – well ahead of Naftali Bennett's pro-settler Jewish Home party, which was expected to win 12 seats, fewer than opinions had predicted. Labour was on course to finish third with 17 seats.

There was speculation that Yesh Atid, led by a former journalist, Yair Lapid, could enter a coalition with Mr Netanyahu, thus moderating the influence of the Right. Mr Netanyahu said he had spoken with Mr Lapid, reportedly telling him that the two could do "great things" for Israel.

It appeared that many wavering voters had swung behind Yesh Atid amid expectations of a strong showing for the Jewish Home party, which was strongly backed by settlers.

The prime minister, who had earlier warned supporters that the Likud government was "in danger", declared on his Facebook page that results represented "a wonderful chance for many changes".

"It is clear that the citizens of Israel have decided that they want me to continue in my position as prime minister, and for me to form as broad a coalition as possible," he wrote. "Starting tonight, I will commence efforts to form the broadest coalition possible." Earlier, the prime minister urged voters to back Likud Beiteinu after casting his vote in Jerusalem's Rahavia neighbourhood, before visiting the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site.

"Likud-Beiteinu represents all the people. The stronger Likud-Beiteinu is, the easier it will be to lead Israel successfully," he said.

His comments were aimed at reversing the surge in support for the Jewish Home party, which advocates annexing large sections of West Bank land that the Palestinians want for a future state.

A larger proportion of hard Right seats in the Knesset could force Mr Netanyahu to retreat from his previous commitment to accepting Palestinian statehood – dismaying Israel's western allies, which have pressed for a two-state solution.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, reflected that concern yesterday when he told urged the United States to kick-start renewed peace talks.

"The changing of facts on the ground, principally settlement construction on occupied land, means a two-state solution is slipping away," he told the House of Commons. "I hope whatever Israeli government emerges will recognise that we are approaching the last chance to bring about such a solution." Last night's results will be followed by several weeks of horse-trading, as parties manoeuvre for cabinet portfolios in a new coalition.

Despite his heavy losses, Yesh Atid success combined with the Jewish Home's weaker than expected results could make it easier for Mr Netanyahu to form a balanced coalition that does not leave him hostage to the hard Right.

"The Israeli Right is more hardline than it was, to the point where Netanyahu is now one of the most moderate people on the Israeli Right," said David Horovitz, editor of the Times of Israel Website. "I don't think he would want to be the most dovish person in a Right-of-Centre, ultra-orthodox coalition."

Ayalet Shaked, the Jewish Home's fourth-ranked candidate, hailed its showing as "a great result" but said aggressive Likud campaigning had cost it "one or two seats". Asked about the possibility of joining the government, she said: "I don't know. It's too early to talk about coalitions."


Findalis said...

It was very close for Bibi. The left is gaining and Israel may be going back to a Nanny State. A State in which the left refuses to serve in the military.

WTF is happening to the world?

Anonymous said...

I thought it was the ultra-orthodox right that refused to serve in the military, all the while the rest of Israel has to support them economically, socially and militarily.

David Bloomenthal.

Findalis said...

Many do David, but there are many of the Ultra-Orthodox who do serve and do so with pride. More and more are finding it acceptable to serve.

The left has discovered that if they don't serve they are considered "heroes" by their professors in the Universities.

If you look at the leaders of Israel's "Arab Spring" you will see that they were draft dodgers. An idea that is smiled upon by academia world-wide but is a dirty idea to general Israeli culture.

Anonymous said...

They serve individually. As a community they fight tooth and nail to remain on the welfare dole. I've seen it. They think they have some sort of pass on having to do their share of the lifting.

As for the left? Their "darft dodging" won't fly with Israelis in general. I live in Tel Aviv. Even in the Gay Village you'll hear people say that Hamas and other terror groups pose an existential threat to Israel and that compulsory military service to keep the security edge is a must.

Those University professors saw all their arguments crumble when Hamas targeted Tel Aviv. When push comes to shove, Israelis support security over appeasement.

As for the Israeli version of the Arab Spring? Well those folks have a good point in protesting Bibi's economic shortcomings. Living costs have sky-rocketed and disabled veterans are being thrown out of their homes by property speculators. Of course you won't see that on the J-Post or Haaretz.

I think it's high time ALL Israelis contribute to the security, longevity and prosperity of Israel. And not shirk military duty by hiding behind a religious pretext.

David Bloomenthal

Findalis said...

There is a solution to getting the Ultra-Orthodox into the military: No welfare without service.

Plus there is a difference between the Ultra-Orthodox who are Hassidic and those who are not Hassidic.

You cannot get a Hassid to do any work in Israel. They have a "Holier than thou" attitude. Many don't even believe in the State of Israel. (Throw them out of the country and tell them that either they accept Israel or they can live outside of it.)

Give the left a few months of no rockets and they will be back to their hate the nation attitude.

Anonymous said...

Yeah try getting that past the powerful religious bloc in the Knesset who have Bibi's blessing. He used to be much more pragmatic in the 90's. Now he's "religious" all of a sudden.

You're telling me. They get on everybody's nerves. My childhood friend is a Policewoman. When she tried to ask some questions about a case of burglaries the Hassidic refused to talk to her because she is a woman. Talk about obstruction of justice.

Oh what a great day it would be if they were given that ultimatum. Arab Israelis work more for Israel than Ultra-Orthodox Hassidic Jews do. A delegation of them even met with Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

Of course they'll return to such rhetoric. But give Hamas a few months to replenish their arsenal and Jew hatred and the left become irrelevant again.

That's why I voted for Yesh Atid. Finally a party strong on defense, pro-middle class and welfare reform(Getting the Hassidic off their asses and into work). Finally a strong Centrist Party. No extreme right protecting the interests of land speculators and Hassidic draft dodgers, and no extreme left looking to welcome Khaled Mashaal with open arms in Jerusalem.

But this is Israel. I have to be realistic.

David Bloomenthal

Findalis said...

Yesh Atid reminds me very much like the old party formed by Yigael Yadin: Democratic Movement for Change.

It came onto the political scene with much fanfare. Made a lot of noise. Got many people excited. Then went into the trash heap. I fear that Yesh Atid might go the same way.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps but it was made up of members from other parties. That's why their platform rang hollow. Yesh Atid has the capability to be different. In Israel it's either Labour or Likud that dominate, and their respective coalitions. Much like Republucans and Democrats in America. Without the coalitions. Yesh Atid has altered the playing field with their strong centrist showing. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. Maybe they'll change the face of Israeli politics or fall through the same old political cracks. I know one thing. If Bibi doesn't take care of the middle class they'll vote him out......early if they have to. When you got disabled veterans self-immolating because their pension cannot keep up with the price gouging speculators play with, you're going to have social turmoil.

The politicians in the Knesset better get their act together. Turning a blind eye to corruption and land speculation will at the least cost them their jobs. Stressed out soldiers who fall behind on their mortgage because of unreasonable price hikes are dangerous individuals. There's no telling what they could do. A junior officers coup should not be that surprising. As soldiers our loyalty lies with Israel. Not Bibi, Livni, Barak or Peres.

On the surface Israel looks fine, but our society is economically stressed and buckling at the seams. We can handle war, suicide bombings and other threats. But the shameful treatment of disabled veterans and holocaust survivors who have no money for heat in the winter or for groceries is too much to handle. All we hear are empty promises. Perhaps a changing of the guard is in order.

David Bloomenthal