Israel’s election results returned Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition to power

Israel’s election results returned Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition to power

Israel’s election results returned Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition to power


JERUSALEM – Although Israel’s election results show former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a slim parliamentary majority, they are also a stunning victory for Israel’s far right. influential positions of power.

It is headed by Bezalel Smotrich, a self-described “proud homophobe” who has announced plans to undermine Israel’s justice system, and Itamar Ben Gvirwho advocated the deportation of Israel’s “disloyal” citizens, Jewish and Arab.

“We demand change,” Ben Gvir said late Tuesday after preliminary results showed his party’s shares with Smotrich, known as Religious Zionism, secured about 15 seats, making it the third largest in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. the largest party. .

“We demand an absolute distinction between those who are loyal to Israel, with whom we have no problem at all, and those who undermine our precious country,” he said, addressing the packed crowd of mostly young, religious men. , dancing to rousing house music alternating between “Ooh-ah! Who is that? The next prime minister”. and “Death to terrorists”.

Israeli elections. a far-right politician is coming to power

As the breadth of his victory became clear on Tuesday night, Netanyahu told jubilant supporters that “the country wants to bring back the national pride that has been taken from us.”

With more than 85 percent of ballots counted as of Wednesday afternoon, Netanyahu’s return to power is certain. Projections by Israel’s three largest television news channels give Netanyahu’s alliance 62 to 65 seats, enough for a parliamentary majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing allies won the minimum majority of seats in the Israeli parliament according to the results of the November 1 exit poll (video: Reuters).

An alliance led by interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid, head of the centrist Yesh Atid party, is projected to win about 50 seats, and Lapid began preparations for a power transfer on Wednesday.

A government led by Netanyahu, which combines far-right religious Zionism and ultra-Orthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism, will be the most religious and right-wing government in Israel’s history.

“The far right is here to stay, and I think its becoming the third largest party in Israel’s parliament is a worrying sign for anyone who is pro-democracy,” said Gail Talshir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Critics fear the new government will introduce legislation that will further undermine Israel’s fight against democracy. Last month Religious Zionism published a proposal for judicial reforms, called the Law and Justice Plan, which could overturn Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial. For years, Netanyahu falsely claimed the trial was a “witch hunt” orchestrated by the Israeli left.

More broadly, such changes could entrench state corruption, give politicians greater leverage over judicial appointments and complicate efforts by the Supreme Court, seen as one of the last bulwarks of Israel’s liberal democracy, to overturn laws that violate human rights.

Two issues driving the growth of the right wing are “the theme of the legal system as a deep state” and the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past decade, said pollster Dalia Sheindlin.

Netanyahu and his allies have tried to spread distrust in the judiciary and the attorney general. “He wants the public to see [the judiciary] as false, politicized, vindictive, conspiratorial,” Sheindlin said

The election also reflects a hardening of views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jump in Palestine attacks since spring has stepped up calls to crack down on Palestinians and give a freer hand to Israeli settlers in the West Bank. The increase in Israeli raids on the West Bank in 2022 deadliest year for Palestinians there since the UN began keeping records in 2005.

After the Israeli elections, it is the Palestinians who must vote

Ben Gvir has roots in the openly racist Kach party, founded by radical American rabbi Meir Kahane and banned by Israel. He built his legal career defending violent Jewish settlers and was repeatedly prosecuted for inciting violence himself. A photo of Baruch Goldstein, who killed 29 Muslim worshipers in the 1994 massacre at a mosque in Hebron, used to hang in his living room.

Supporters told The Washington Post on Tuesday that they voted for Ben Gvir because he supports the formal annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories by Israel and advocates killing, rather than imprisoning, suspected Palestinian militants.

Ben Gvir has demanded the appointment of a minister of public security, a position that oversees the police. Opponents, including some members of Israel’s security establishment, have warned that such a move would be dangerous for Israel, raising the prospect of a major escalation with the Palestinians.

The “National Unity” party led by Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced before the elections that Ben Gvir will “set the country on fire from within” as head of public security.

Participation in elections, Israel’s fifth in less than four yearsAccording to the Central Electoral Commission of Israel, it was 71.3 percent. Despite widespread fatigue, Israelis voted with speed about four percentage points higher than last year.

The final vote count, expected by Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, could push Israel’s smaller parties over the threshold and complicate Netanyahu’s path to power, though such an outcome appears unlikely.

Lapid’s campaign was based on securing the support of smaller parties, a gambit that did not seem to pay off. The left-wing Labor Party only narrowly passed the four-seat threshold, and another left-wing party, Meretz, as well as the Arab Balad party fell short.

The turnout of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who typically vote at lower percentages than Jewish Israelis, was: is carefully considered as a potential determining factor in the elections. Israel has approximately 2 million Palestinian citizens, many of whom are descended from families who remained in Israel after the country’s founding in 1948, when many Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes.

In last year’s election, the Islamist Ra’am party joined Israel’s governing coalition, a first for an Arab party. But ahead of the election, Palestinian voters expressed disillusionment with Arab politicians and a Jewish-dominated political system that they believe is marginalizing them.

Palestinian Israelis are divided and frustrated as elections approach

A last-minute push by politicians and Palestinian groups to pull out the vote appears to have paid off. the voting rate among Arab citizens was estimated at about 54 percent, according to the analysis. aChord center At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a 10 percent increase compared to the previous elections.

But the fragmentation of Palestinian politics means Arab parties are likely to win fewer seats than last year. The nationalist Balad party left the joint list and attracted voters who did not want to cooperate with Jewish parties.

Lucy Zumot, 69, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, voted for Balad because she believed party leader Sami Abu Shahadeh was “right,” including that “we are under occupation and we never forget that.”

Speaking at a polling station in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, Zumot said he wanted the government to “give me all the rights, like the Jews, and stop fighting.”

Balad’s strong showing on Tuesday was a sign of his growing support, Talshir said, especially among young Arab voters. That support has not yet translated into enough votes to pass the threshold.

Meanwhile, the 5.5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have had no say in the process, although Israel’s new right-wing government has vowed to tighten the occupation’s neck.

The rise of the far right was “a natural result of the growing manifestations of extremism and racism in Israeli society that our people have been suffering for years,” Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtaye said Wednesday.

Many Palestinians in East Jerusalem have special residency status that allows them to live in Israel but not vote.

Among them is Mohammed Saraneh, 35, who works at a dessert shop in the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Ramla in central Israel.

“We must have Arab representation in the Knesset,” he said. “I live with [Israeli citizens], in the same condition. I should be able to vote.’

Rubin reported from Tel Aviv. Sufia Tahan in Bethlehem contributed to this report.

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