Israel Elections 2019: A far right-wing government is coming

On April 9th, 1948 some 120 members of the two main Zionist paramilitary groups, Irgun and Lehi, attacked the village of Deir Yassin killing 107 native Palestinians. Seventy-one years later Benjamin Netanyahu was elected for the fifth term as Israel’s Prime Minister. If the final composition of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) has yet to be decided and the final results are expected by the end of the week, the so-called “age of Bibi” will continue at least for the next four years.

Another victory after a dramatic night

After running neck-and-neck with his challenger Benny Gantz, the Likud’s veteran leader Netanyahu declared that it was “a night of tremendous victory”. Although Likud tied with Kahol Lavan (the new centrist Blue and White party led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz) with 35 seats each, the provisional results show that 65 seats of the Knesset (120 seats in total) would go to the right-wing bloc and 55 seats to the centre-left factions. This means that Netanyahu is in a better position to form a majority coalition by including the most nationalist, far-right and ultra-religious parties in Israel at present. Among them, there is also Otza Yehudit, a very ideological far-right party coming from the banned Kach party and lobbying for violence against the Palestinian Arabs.

Just after the earliest official results, almost all right-wing parties communicated to the current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin their support to Netanyahu in order to form the next ruling coalition. In the last few months Gantz has proved to build up an alternative to Netanyahu, however he did not achieve his final goal in the end.

In and out, winners and losers

In addition to Likud’s clear victory, the right-wing parties that obtained good results are United Torah Judaism, Shas, Israel Beitenu, Right-wing Union and Kulanu.

Nonetheless, other rather significant right-wing representatives did not enter the Parliament since they did not reach electoral threshold, such as Hayamin Hehadash (the New Right) led by Eduction Minister Naftali Bennet and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, along with Zehut founded by former Knesset deputy speaker Moshe Feiglin, and Gesher by former model and television anchor Orly Levy-Abekasis.

On the other hand, looking at the centre-left bloc, while Kahol Lavan greatly succeeded, the Labour party with its newly elected chairman Avi Gabbay completely collapsed in a real electoral disaster. Furthermore, regarding the Palestinian Arab community, the 2015 Joint List split into two coalitions, Hadash-Ta’al led by Ahmad Tibi and Ayman Odeh, and Ra’am-Balad led by Mtanes Shehadeh and Masud Ghanaim. Both entered but with poor results, also due to the fact that voter turnout among Palestinians was quite low as consequence of several calls within the community to boycott the elections.

What will happen in the near future?

Considered mainly as a public referendum on Netanyahu’s character and in particular on his three corruption allegations, this result confirms the continuation of an era, of a culture of government founded on very nationalist and extremist pillars. By destroying the issues required to the existence of a democratic state, Likud’s leader has already declared one of the major aims of his new mandate, namely the annexation of the settlements in the West Bank to Israel with the support of Trump administration. In a way, this move follows Trump’s election gift to Netanyahu when a month ago the US President recognised Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights (captured by Israel from Syria since 1967).

Overall, it is evident that throughout his electoral campaign that Netanyahu has been very clever to convince voters that he can be the only representative of the Jewish people at the national and international level, and, at the same time, that all the corruption scandals he is involved in are only founded on leftist conspiracies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu / Photo by US Government

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely the authors’ point of view and do not bind the Center for International Studies, its Director or any other researcher.

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Giulia Daniele

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CEI-IUL. Visiting Research Fellow (CMRB, UEL). Her first book is entitled Women, Reconciliation and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: The Road Not Yet Taken (Routledge, 2014).

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