Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The morning after

A few general comments:
  • While the 'Left' definitely lost, I do not think that the Right and extreme Right really won. O.k., Likud gained 15-16 seats, but 27-28 seats is much less than the 38 that they had in 2003. Lieberman's gains were only slightly spectactular because of Labor's losses, the National Union and the National Religious Party lost two seats, Shas ( which until Eli Yishay took over years never was a rightwing-nationalist party ) lost one.
  • If anything, these elections prove once more the stalemate of Israeli politics: with the current political system serious and necessary change will not come from within.
  • The Israeli-Arab voters appear not to have boycotted the elections, the so-called Arab parties even gained one seat ( for Hadash, an Arab-Jewish party that includes the Israeli Communist Party, probably at the expense of Meretz ).
  • While it will be very difficult for the next PM to get support for any withdrawal from the Westbank or for other ( territorial ) concessions to the Palestinians, (s)he probably will almost automatically receive the support of 55 MKs for such concessions. The voters who cast their ballot for those 55 MKs definitely favor an end to the occupation. At least some of those who voted for Likud, Shas, United Thorah Judaism and maybe even Lieberman will not oppose such an end, as long as the price and the conditions are right. Even Bibi understands that the occupation can not last forever, and that if he becomes PM he will somehow have to cooperate with ( and, from his perspective, give in to ) the new administration in Washington. Such cooperation includes concessions to the Palestinians, whether he and his coalition partners like it or not.
  • After this result, Kadimah could become a permanent and positive factor in Israeli politics, even though the party was able to avoid losing seats mainly at the cost of Meretz and Labor.
  • The winners: Livni, Lieberman, Hamas, the settlers ( all for different reasons ).
  • The losers: Nethanyahu, Barak, Israelis and Palestinians ( idem ).
  • I am glad that I am not the one who has to build a coalition among the members of this, 18th, Knesset.

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