For Netanyahu, a Narrower Victory

January 23, 2013 10:12 am 1 comment

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90

Benyamin Netanyahu will again be prime minister, but with a much-weakened political base after yesterday’s national election. His Likud Party, allied with the mainly Russian immigrant party of Avigdor Liberman, lost one-third of its Knesset seats, due in part to Liberman’s being under the shadow of indictment on rather thin charges by a politicized Attorney-General.

The “not-Likud” vote splintered in two directions, and to two political newcomers: to Netanyahu’s center-left is Yair Lapid’s There Is a Future Party, with about 19 seats, while to his center-right is Naftali Bennett’s resurgent national-religious party, with 11 or 12 seats. Lapid did somewhat better than recent polls were predicting, while Bennett fared somewhat worse. But in order to form a government, Netanyahu will likely have to build a coalition around at least one, or likely both, of these parties. If the final tally gives Likud 31 seats, Lapid 19 seats, and Bennett 11, Netanyahu could not form a government without bringing in another party.

Netanyahu would probably like to ally with one of the two Haredi parties, either Shas, with 11 seats, or United Torah, with 7. But it is hard to see how either party could co-exist in a government with Lapid’s, as their positions on perks to Haredim are diametrically opposed. That leaves the option of Tzipi Livni’s breakaway party, which won 6 seats.

A government including Likud, Lapid and Livni would have a strong emphasis on domestic issues, while likely leaving security policies unchanged. The addition of Bennett would reinforce this trend, though it would anchor security policies to the right. In that case the agenda would be housing reform, a new draft law to incorporate at least some of the Haredim, and a stance against new concessions to the Palestinians.

Each of these agenda points is achievable and enjoys substantial support beyond the confines of these four parties.
Just days before the election, Netanyahu announced he was handing the housing portfolio to one of the young Likud whiz kids, Moshe Kachlon, a 40-year-old technocrat who successfully reformed the country’s telecommunications sector. While real estate is more complicated, a Likud-Lapid-Bennett-Livni coalition would have both the political will and the managerial expertise to act. If successful, it would co-opt the focus of the Labor Party (17 seats) on economic reform.

On the Haredi draft, Lapid and Bennett have differing, but not necessarily irreconcilable positions. Lapid favors universal conscription into some type of national service, while Bennett favors a protected sector for a certain percentage of young Torah scholars. A new law could also mandate a more observance-friendly IDF, with more religious-majority units.

There is also a need to accelerate integration of Haredi youth into Israel’s high-tech business sector, where, for example, one-in-seven employees of Intel Corporation in Israel is already Haredi. In other words, a formula must be found to reach out to the existing desire of rank-and-file Haredim to participate in Israel’s economy and national service, despite the resistance of Haredi leadership, while leaving them free to retain their religious identity and lifestyle.

In the weeks to come there will be the inevitable posturing, posing and grandstanding amongst the various coalition contenders, and certainly a variety of other outcomes is possible. But the center of political gravity today stretches from Netanyahu, left to Lapid, and right to Bennett, and bodes well for the stability of the country, as well as a stable Netanyahu government.

A centrist coalition led by Netanyahu would do much to dispel the reports and speculation emanating from Washington recently that the third-term prime minister, or the Israeli electorate, do not know what is in Israel’s best interest, and are leading the country to “near-total diplomatic isolation.” These reports reflect mainly upon the likelihood that it is President Obama himself who would not like to lend Israel his diplomatic support.

And it is hard to avoid the conclusion that Washington’s 11th-hour intervention did not contribute to the weakening of Netanyahu. With the president’s recent nomination of “a flock of doves” to foreign policy and security positions, and his highly ideological second inaugural address, Netanyahu will clearly be under full assault by progressives, both foreign and domestic.

Benyamin Korn is a veteran Anglo-Jewish journalist and political activist.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.