Netanyahu’s March towards a Convincing Israeli Victory

After being the Prime Minister for more than half of the last eighteen years, Benjamin Netanyahu is now set to become Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister. With his recent electoral win, he proved pollsters wrong. He was at best to be even with Zionists and to be voted out by the disillusioned voters who now blame him for most of Israel’s woes.

The Likud Party led by Netanyahu has won 30 of the 120 seats in Parliament. And it appears confident to be able to forge a coalition with its nationalist, religious and ultra – orthodox Jewish allies. Exit polls had actually given the Zionist Union a lead and the election itself was seen as a referendum on Netanyahu. Now Netanyahu hopes to form a new government within two to three weeks. Ten parties in all will now send members to the Parliament. Even before the election results were declared, a confident Netanyahu congratulated the people of Israel for being able to distinguish between what was important and what was peripheral and to insist on the important.

One reason why Netanyahu has won could be the lack of a pool of good leaders to choose from. Israel is a country that has produced great leaders like Ben Gurion, but now the quality of the people who make it to the Knessett leaves much to be desired. Most of them are deal brokers who have managed to beat the system.

There is cause for concern among the international community over Netanyahu’s win. Netanyahu is opposed to Palestinian statehood and the construction of settlements and is constantly in clash mode with the White House. During the campaign, he dramatically reversed his position on the creation of a new Palestine state, a much promised goal of the United States and many other western countries. He is also intending to increase construction activity in the Jewish areas of Jerusalem, a region that has actually been promised to the Jews.

Netanyahu’s election campaign was directed mainly at security issues pertaining to the country, while the other parties chose to focus on economic issues, chiefly the high cost of living. Netanyahu will now look to add an economic dimension to his government by including the Kulanu party in government formation and making the chief of that party the new Finance Minister.

The Kulanu party secured ten seats by focussing on economic issues. In the end, it was Netanyahu’s experience that tilted the scales in his favour. He did play divide and rule also during the course of his campaign, warning that Arab voters would come out in great numbers to vote and they would overwhelm all others. The Zionist party actually performed better than the previous elections by winning two more seats.

Therefore, the won for the Likud party came at the cost of the Israeli hardline parties. The tactical move by Netanyahu by moving away from the Left did not win him Leftist seats; rather his move to the right brought him seats from other right parties. Coupled with the importance he attached to security, he assured his party of a convincing win.

Atreyee Roy (have 690 posts in total)

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