The outcome of Israel’s elections may well be the worst possible– worse, even, than a clear victory by Likud. What we have instead, with 99% of the votes now counted, is Likud and Kadima just about tied (Kadime– 28 seats out of the Knesset’s 120, Likud–27 seats) and Lieberman’s fascist Yisrael Beitenu party holding the key swing position with an expected 15 seats.
Labour, as expected, is coming in fourth with 13 seats. The Mizrachi-orthodox party Shas is expected to win 11.
Leiberman is very bad news indeed.
As Ben Lynfield wrote in this December 2006 article for The Nation,
- If Lieberman’s pronouncements are to be taken seriously–and there is no obvious reason they should not be–a Lieberman[-led] government would exclude some Arab citizens from Israel, would expel others who refuse to sign a loyalty-to-Zionism oath, would turn Gaza into Grozny and would execute Arab members of the Knesset who talk to Hamas or mark Israel Independence Day as the anniversary of the displacement of the Palestinians in 1948.
Lieberman immigrated from Moldova to Israel at age 20, in 1978, and currently lives in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim. Exemplifying the racist aggressivity of many voluntary participants in settler-colonialist ventures over the decades he calls for, for example, stripping many Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel of their citizenship.
This policy prescription of his, alone, should send shivers down the back of anyone familiar with the history of Hitler’s Holocaust against the Jews.
In November 2006, he called for the execution of any Arab Knesset member who met with Hamas.
… What happens now, as I understand it, is that Israeli president Shimon Peres should call on the leader of the party he judges easiest able to assemble a 61-member coalition to form a coalition government.
An objective analysis might indicate that Peres should therefore call on Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu to have the first stab at doing this, since Netanyahu might hope fairly easily to assemble a solid-right coalition. However, Kadima did get one more vote than Likud, and Peres’s sympathies are probably more with Kadima than Likud (though who knows?), so he may well call on Kadima first, instead.
Either way, Lieberman would be a key swing actor.
To me, the results of this Israeli election have two main, complementary story-lines. One is the rise of Leiberman and the continuing solidity of Likud, even after the formation of Kadima, which took in more of Likud’s luminaries than it did of Labour’s: That is, the story of the continued rise of Israel’s Hard Right.
The other story is the continued demise of Israel’s once dominant ‘left’.
The graph on this page of today’s Haaretz shows us that while Labour is down to 13 seats, the more authentically leftist party Meretz is down to 3.
A Likud-Kadima-led coalition is still a possibility. They’d need a few more small parties to make up their government. But who would lead this government, and what policies would it pursue on the all-important peace issue? My guess on these two issues would be Netanyahu as PM and stasis on the peace issue.
It’s not as if the Kadima-led government that’s been in power in recent years has made any notable strides on peace, anyway.
I guess we’ll need to wait a while to learn the reactions from Washington…