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An election without results


March 29, 2019

The election may not decide anything.

The clusters of parties seem nearly tied in recent polls, with neither right nor center-left clearly able to amass the seats need to form a government. What comes next will be long and messy, and ultimately create a government. Or another election.

At the present, Bibi seems to be in charge of the right. But loosely.

It shouldn’t take much to dislodge him, send him to a retirement, which itself will be a messy process that seems likely to end up behind bars.

Currently we’re hearing more support for Likud than for Bibi. For some time we’ve known that a majority of Israelis oppose a continuation of his rule. 

Is all this a polite way to prepare dumping him? We’ll see.

Meanwhile he has moved closer to Feiglin with comments about the legalization of light drugs. That’s something that an ultra-Orthodox Knesset member describes as a minor issue. And Bibi has taken a firm stand on the Nationality Law. While Israel is a Jewish democracy with equality among its citizens, only the Jews can identify with the essence of the State. This puts him at odds with an artist who declared that Israel is the State of all its citizens, and with president who confirmed that statement.

If anyone out there can distinguish the nuances at issue, please try and educate me. 

One is tempted to speculate about the post-election maneuvers. A lot may depend on the president. 

After consulting with the heads of the parties, he will select the individual with the best chance of forming a government.

Could that be someone from Likud other than Netanyahu? If so, it could lead to a union of Likud and Blue-White, without Bibi.

Off to the court for what’ll be the former prime minister. Or if Blue-White gets more seats than Likud, the nod can go to Gantz. Then leave to him to maneuver either with the Arabs or perhaps with Likud without Bibi.

An unknown element in all of this is the strength of Bibi’s ego, and his capacity to withstand pressures to step down—either after the election, or prior to the ending of his judicial process. He’s been prominent in key meetings with foreign leaders, and is likely to meet with his friend Donald prior to the election. 

Among his supporters are religious Jews who cite sacred texts that recognize the actions of great leaders and their wealth.

Yet it’s been more than a couple of thousand years since those texts were drafted. Values have changed, including those of many Israelis.

Bibi’s theme is that it’s either Bibi or Tibi; that his opposition is both leftist and inclined to deal positively with the Arabs.

In reality, Blue-White is an amalgam of those to the left and right of center. What unites them is an opposition to Bibi.

To what extent will Bibi’s crowd believe him? Or believe the denials of Blue-White? Or be mixed on such things and vote against Bibi.

And there’s been a major escalation of violence in the south. Rocket attacks against the center of Israel, now said to have been in error, and about 100 Israeli airforce attacks against Gaza.

There’s also been a wave of political protests in Gaza. Against Hamas? Or against Abbas? Who can be sure how this will continue? And will this play in our election?

In any case, it’s more simple than in the United States.

There the issue of impeachment pretty much protects the president from any judicial process.

Despite a growing list of key aides being sent to jail, and considerable justifications for suspicions about the President, his party’s majority in the Senate pretty much protects him from demands of justice.

And while two candidates at an average age of 76.5 fight it out in the primary of Iowa, to be set against a President of similar age, there’s a bunch of younger candidates active elsewhere. Most of them are to the left of center, which will leave Donald free to assert his identity with what he might call traditional Americanism.

Comments welcome. irashark@gmail.com

Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus), Department of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


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