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...

  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.