Israel Elections Analysis: Who Won & Lost? What the Media is Not Reporting

by Avi Abelow

Deep Dive

Last night Israelis went to the voting booths again to vote for a government for the second time in six months. The million-dollar question now is who will be Prime Minister and what will the next government look like. However, according to the almost final results, nobody knows. Bottom line, it’s complicated.

Israel is a parliamentary system of various parties, so the leader of the party with the most chance of putting together a majority coalition of 61+ seats in the 120 seat Parliament becomes the Prime Minister. As of this moment, Netanyahu and his historic coalition partners, from the religious parties and the right, have over 60 seats. However, the leader of one of the parties, Yisrael Beiteinu, now says that he won’t sit in the same coalition as the Ultra-Orthodox parties. This basically means that Netanyahu only has 55 potential coalition partners on the right at the moment.

The opposition party, Blue and White, which was just created this year as a coalition of three smaller parties all unified to topple Netanyahu, only has 43 realistic potential partners on the left.

The United Arab party has 13 seats, but this party includes many members who are against the State of Israel and actively work with Israel’s enemies abroad and in Israel’s Parliament, so they can not be counted on to be included in a left-wing coalition of the Left.

The most logical solution would be for Netanyahu’s Likud party to join the Blue and White party in a coalition, since just these two parties alone make up over 61+ seats to create a stable coalition, without any pressures from smaller parties. However, this solution also has it’s problem, mainly that the Blue and White party does not want to sit in a government with Netanyahu, they want him replaced as Likud leader, essentially removed from Parliament, and only then would they sit with the Likud party.

As I said before, it’s complicated.

Winners & Losers

The Israeli media is focusing on three winners of this election and one major loser. The media is focusing on the previously right-wing Yisrael Beiteynu party, the joint Arab party and the new center-left Blue & White part as the winners with PM Netanyahu and the Likud as the major losers.

However, the Israeli mainstream media, which is anti-Netanyahu and anti-right, is only partly correct.

The first major winner of this election is Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the Yisrael Beiteynu party. In the last elections, he only gained 5 seats, but due to his strong anti-Ultra-Orthodox stance in the runup to this election, he has now won 9 seats and essentially became the Kingmaker of the next government. While Lieberman used to be a natural ally of the right-wing, due to his new stand on vetoing the inclusion of his previous allies of the Ultra-Orthodox parties, he is now open to also joining a center-left coalition.

The joint Arab list won 13 seats as it did two elections ago. Regardless, the media’s fascination and focus on the Arab party as a winner is more of a function of the media’s leftward bent with a disconnect from reality. Unfortunately, the Arab party spends most of its time working hand in hand with Israel’s enemies instead of helping its constituents, Israeli Arab citizens. Netanyahu’s Likud party and right-wing coalition have done tremendous things to help the Israeli Arab citizens, much more than the joint Arab party that supposedly represents them.

Benny Gantz and the Blue & White party held on to the same amount of seats as in the last elections, but they are unable to create a coalition without the Likud, unless they create a far-left coalition that would have to include the anti-Israel joint Arab party, the far-left Israeli parties together with the more right-wing Yisrael Beiteynu party. This is close to being an impossible scenario. Hence, they are not big winners either, even though Gantz is in a more realistic situation to potentially become Prime Minister of Israel than ever before. But only potentially.

The big loser is definitely PM Netanyahu. While the amount of seats of his natural potential coalition partners remains the same, the Likud lost a few seats, Netanyahu has far fewer options to put together a majority coalition and the overall public feeling is that his time is up.

Unfortunately, many on the right did not even go out to vote, having a big impact on the final election results. No full analysis has yet been done yet, but my feeling is that even though Netanyahu has been the most successful Israeli politician responsible for elevating Israel’s status on the world stage to a phenomenal position of strength, for the tiny country that we are, a number of factors have brought about his decline in support. First of all, he hasn’t stopped the terror from Gaza, and many of his natural supporters down South, and in other parts of the country, are tremendously disappointed in him. Also, many past supporters no longer believe his promises, that he does not always keep. Many others have been influenced by the tremendous attack he has experienced from the media and the Justice system for over two decades. It seems that those things combined made a dent in the level of enthusiasm from his natural support base to go out and vote.

So What Will Be?

What government will we have in Israel and who will be the Prime Minister? We won’t know yet for a while.

However, the major loser of this election is the people of Israel. It is historic that a US President in the White House is so supportive and understanding that a strong Israel benefits a strong USA. Netanyahu has an amazing relationship with President Trump and if Netanyahu does not continue as Prime Minister, or if Israel does not have a right-wing government, then many of the diplomatic plans that have been discussed to ensure that Israel remains strong in the face of her enemies, will not come about. This is a tremendous lost opportunity.

Full Video Including the Deep Dive Analysis of the Election Results

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