UPDATE: Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer has just tweeted that the final votes tabulated form the IDF count do NOT put Bennett’s New Right party into Knesset. Meretz has also gained a seat. In the midst of a very dark election, these developments are some consolation.
Looks like the soldiers vote has not put Bennett/Shaked over the threshold. Yamin Hadash out of the Knesset. Instead the soldiers have given Meretz another seat, at the expense of United Torah Judaism. Poetic.
— Anshel Pfeffer (@AnshelPfeffer) April 11, 2019
Pfeffer also notes that instead of the 67 seats the rightist coalition had a few hours ago, it is now down to 64 seats. This means that Moshe Kahlon’s center-right Kulanu party (4 seats) would topple Bibi’s government if, say, the PM is indicted and refuses to resign. Kahlon has said in the past he would not support an indicted PM. I’ve learned that every Israeli politician’s word is practically worthless when conditions change. But who knows? Kahlon may be the first to prove me wrong. In other words, he has the power to overthrow the government should he choose.
This election is Bibi’s Triumph of the (Judeo) Will. It is an affirmation of Richard Spencer’s designation of Israel as a Jewish ethno-state.
99.9% of the voter results are in for the election. Yesterday, we had 97% and an even split between Likud and Blue & White at 35 seats each. Tonight, we have further results from IDF soldiers and other groups not counted in the main tally. Those tend to skew rightward and indeed they have benefited the far-right with Blue & White likely losing two seats (Haaretz’s results showed the two parties tied at 34 seats) and Meretz losing one seat.
The winners are Bennett’s New Right which appears to have passed the threshold by–get this–.01% (!!) and adds 4 seats to the far-right coalition (if Bibi and Bennett can hold their noses and embrace each other). Also Balad, the Palestinian party retains its four seats, which were in danger of being wiped out depending on these late results. The rightist parties total 67 seats and the center-left parties total 53 seats.
(Close to) final Israeli election results according to Channel 12:
Blue & White 33
Torah Judaism 7
Yisrael Beitenu 5
United Right 4
New Right 4
Right wing parties 67
Center-left parties 53
A word of warning, these are not yet the absolute final results and things could change. But that’s unlikely at this point.
Many journalists bemoaned the last election, saying it brought the most right-wing government in Israel’s history to power. This election is even worse. The most extreme right-wing parties triumphed. The center-right parties like Kulanu sunk as their voters were subsumed into either Blue & White or the Likud. Netanyahu’s rising fascist impulses have been ratified. He can now smugly assert that the electorate has ratified this new muscular brand of Judeo-racialism he’s been peddling. He will certainly annex much of the West Bank as he promised. Trump will certainly endorse this move as he did with the Golan. And the world will likely sit back and do little or nothing, the same response to past similar outrages.
I am heartened by a few developments though. Today’s Washington Post featured an op-ed, Congress cannot afford to ignore Netanyahu’s embrace of the far right, by two Democratic Congress members never known for being critical of Israel, Chris Van Hollen and Gerald Connolly. They excoriate Netanyahu for the coarsening of Israeli politics, saying:
Congress cannot afford to look the other way…
This is a time for honesty. And while Trump and Netanyahu loyalists can be counted on to paint any criticism of their policies as anti-Israel, the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Standing up against this extreme agenda is vital…
It’s true that they remain moored to the two-state solution which is long dead. They have not yet come around to the notion that the U.S. must threaten a withholding of military aid to Israel. Instead they propose a milquetoast Congressional resolution which calls on Israel not to threaten prospects for a two-state solution. But given the stranglehold of the Israel lobby on Congress, this is a process of gradual change. The Democratic party is slowly moving away from its lockstep with the lobby. It is slowly growing a spine. Some of this may have been empowered by Beto O’Rourke’s recent attack on Netanyahu as a “racist.” I would also look to an increasingly emboldened Bernie Sanders to stake out an ever more progressive approach to Israel during the upcoming campaign.
Another interesting perspective is that of long-time Labor Party activist and former foreign minister, Shlomo Ben Ami. He has always been a liberal Zionist and supporter of a two-state solution. And even in his latest piece, he hasn’t yet supported a one-state solution. But the major sea-change in his outlook is embracing the notion that the Israeli Zionist left can never come to power unless it also embraces the Israeli Palestinian parties and governs in a joint coalition with them:
If there is any consolation, it is that the Israeli left and center – from Meretz and Labor to the Arab parties and Blue and White – still collectively represents almost half of the electorate. A bold leader who is willing to fight for Israel’s soul could prevail, but only by unapologetically allying with Israeli Arabs.
This is absolute anathema to mainstream Israeli Jewish politics. It’s the reason Benny Gantz cannot become prime minister. If he had agreed during the election to include Palestinian parties in a majority coalition, that part of the electorate likely would have rushed to the polls and more than made up for any Jewish voters who abandoned him. As it is, the Palestinian participation rate was 52%, one of the lowest on record. The voting percentage in the last election was 72%. Those votes likely would have translated to a governing majority.
The overall national level of participation was also low–the third lowest on record, 67.5%. There will be only 30 women sitting in the next Knesset and there are no female leaders of any parties except Meretz.