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The Israeli Elections: Reading the Significance and Repercussions 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 14 April, 2019 [RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 14 April, 2019 [RONEN ZVULUN/AFP/Getty Images]

According to the final results of the Israeli elections, it seems that Netanyahu will win a fifth term as prime minister, and will stand beside the founding leader of Israel David Ben-Gurion as to the length of the term they served as prime ministers.

For Netanyahu has finished his 13 years (1996–1999 and 2009–2019), and this is a major achievement in the Israeli political environment, which is characterized by a large number of parties, plenty of splits and mergers, and much manoeuvres and political harassments, in addition to a great ability to coexist within the Zionist project.

The preliminary reading of the results of the Israeli elections, held recently on 9 April, leads to several observations as follows:

First

Netanyahu was able to overcome the election challenge with great success, for he is a shrewd, astute and seasoned politician. He began his campaign, while he was accused with corruption, and his cases were ready to be brought to trial; however, he overcame all these accusations, and a large majority continued to see him as the fittest for the prime ministry position, even by non-Likud supporters.

After almost losing, Benjamin Netanyahu comes 1st in 2019 Israeli election - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

After almost losing, Benjamin Netanyahu comes 1st in 2019 Israeli election – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

He was even able to add six seats to the Likud bloc to reach 36 seats. He was also able to overcome or limit the influence of the extreme right forces, which were accusing him of weakness.

Thus, Naftali Bennett and his New Right party lost; and Moshe Feiglin, the former Likud member, and his Zehut party (lit., Identity) lost, too. As for the Kulanu party headed by former Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, it lost several seats winning only four out of its previous ten.

Therefore, Netanyahu remained the “King” of the right parties, who had no other competitor for the prime ministry. As for the religious parties who won 16 seats, they certainly would prefer Netanyahu in any governmental formation, since they are, in general, politically close to him.

Second

The general track of the Israeli elections for the past twenty years confirms that the Israeli society has become more right-leaning and extreme; while the “left” camp has become more fragmented and secluded, and it has even become right in some aspects, even adopting “right” views and arguments.

READ: Israeli president tasks Netanyahu with forming new government

In these elections, the Labour party failed big, winning only six seats, whereas it led, in the previous Knesset, the “Zionist Camp,” in alliance with Tzipi Livni, with 24 seats. Knowing that the Labour party (in its different forms) was the one, which led the Israeli political life, since the establishment of Israel in 1948 and until 1977. At the same time, we must note here that in Israel the right, left, and the middle, do not necessarily reflect the common academic terms and connotations.

They are only used to make things clearer, while the “Synthetic Zionism” doctrine, which seeks to uplift the Jewish Zionist status, is the one ruling everybody.

Third

Netanyahu has benefited from his “achievements” at the Israeli level, for the Israeli economy is witnessing its best days, as the annual income per capita is more than $40 thousand, the settlement building programs continue in full swing, while the Palestinian Authority (PA) is performing the “duties” demanded of it by Israel, fore and foremost security coordination. At the same time, Israel’s aspects of “Jewishness,” racism and extremism are increasing, they have been entrenched as basic laws of a constitutional nature, primarily the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” which was passed by the Knesset last year.

Furthermore, the US policy led by Trump blends in more with the extreme right Likudism; it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy to it. And it is working very diligently to implement the “deal of the century” and end the Palestine issue.

However, it was remarkable that the US intervened to support Netanyahu by presenting him a historic achievement amidst the elections, and that was by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights occupied in 1967. It was also noteworthy that before the elections, the Russians handed over the remains of the Israeli soldier to Israel, whose corpse had been buried in Syria for the past 37 years.

READ: US issues new map showing Golan Heights as Israel territory

This indicates that the great powers supported Netanyahu, and have made significant steps when opinion polls showed that Benny Gantz (Blue and White party) was taking the lead. At the same time, normalization steps were taken by a number of Arab countries, and before the elections, Netanyahu was visited by the presidents of Brazil, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Czech Republic and Chad.

Fourth

As the Jewishness of the state became more established, and the racist laws have increased, the 1948 Palestinians became more desperate to collect any gains through participation in the elections or the Israeli political system. Many have boycotted the elections along with the Islamic movement (North) and the Harakat Abnaa al-Balad (Sons of the Country Movement), consequently, the Arab voter turnout plunged from 63.5 per cent (2015) to 49.1 per cent (2019).

The division of the Arab List into two lists, while they were united in the previous elections, has contributed to the weakening of the Palestinian community, resulting in the decline of the number of their seats from 13 to 10.

Fifth

The peace process, as the Oslo Accords describe it, is taking its final breath (Although we feel, along with many other analysts, that it died a long time ago, and that it is just waiting for the formal announcement of death). Israel has succeeded in “managing” the peace process and using it as a cover for the settlement and Judaization expansion, and in employing Palestinian forces, who “believe in the peace process,” to suppress the resistance forces and do the “dirty” work that Israel needs.

Oslo Accords, the 25th Anniversary – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

In addition, as the election results were issued, the “Chief Palestinian Negotiator” Saeb Erekat noted that the Israeli society has said “no to peace” and to the peace process; For only 18 out of 120 members, who are pro-two state solution, have won. Hence, the PA leadership has found itself—after it ventured with Oslo and relinquished most of Palestine—like the ostrich that went asking for two horns, and returned without ears!!

As for the solution offered by Netanyahu and his Zionist community to the Palestinians, it will not be more than self-rule (under the name of a state) with no sovereignty, no Jerusalem, no right of return for refugees, and no sovereignty over large areas of the West Bank (WB)…This solution is being marketed in coordination with the Trump administration, which is pressuring the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab countries, circumventing the Palestine dossier, and imposing what is known as the “deal of the century.”

READ: Israel’s Lieberman conditions support for Netanyahu on Haredi draft law

Sixth

After the Israeli government is formed, the Palestinian resistance, especially in Gaza Strip (GS), must expect more pressure and more attempts to subdue GS and disarm it. Although Israel does not wish to see political unity achieved between the WB and GS, what’s more important to it is to exhaust and terminate the resistance experience, and make it fail.

Perhaps Israel will continue its pressure by escalating some forms of siege so that a discontented environment would be established in GS, then the anti-Hamas and resistance forces would take advantage of that to topple them. Moreover, the Israelis may reach a point where they would assassinate leaders and symbols and make “qualitative hits.”

With elections weeks away, Israel pounds Gaza - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

With elections weeks away, Israel pounds Gaza – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

However, they will remain reluctant to enter into a full-scale war because of its high cost and the possibility of its failure. Therefore, the resistance has no other option but to understand people and their concerns more wisely, to exert more effort to expand national alliances in order to protect the resistance and to face the Israeli occupation with more good measures, strength and firmness.

This article was originally published in  Arabic on “Arabi 21” on 12/4/2019.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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