There’s no doubt that this is an unusual Israeli election. There are no real fights going on about how to deal with the Palestinians, nor about social welfare, and no one is even mentioning Iran.
The general consensus in Israel is that the outgoing government had us on the right track and was a good government, and this election is about whether the next government should focus either slightly more on this, or slightly more on that – issues it was already dealing with.
For now, the traditional Left-Right debate is irrelevant, simply because the majority of the nation understands the Left is as wrong about the Palestinians as they are about socialism.
And that’s why instead of the Left-Right debate, we have this massive infighting between political parties who are supposed to be on the same side.
This election is also significantly dirtier than any other I can recall in recent times, because it’s essentially internecine, with the parties not fighting over the undecided Center, but over their own existing shared voter base.
At JewishPress.com we’ve spent countless hours discussing the pros and cons of voting for each particular party, and for the purpose of transparency, we need to disclose that all the members of the staff have a relationship with one party or another, starting from our Likud Central Committee members, down to being friends, acquaintances and neighbors with the candidates and staff of HaBayit HaYehudi and Otmza L’Yisrael.
With Election Day tomorrow, in the office we face another unusual event, with the exception of our Likud Central Committee members, most of us are still undecided as to whom we plan to vote for. And the wavering is interesting, either Likud-Beytenu – HaBayit HaYehudi, HaBayit Hayehudi – Otzma L’Yisrael, and even Likud-Beytenu – Otzma L’Yisrael.
The success of each party carries with it, its own risks and benefits, and I hope to share with you some of the discussions that have made this election decision such a difficult one.
There’s almost no doubt that the Likud will be the largest individual party.
For the most part, it has an excellent list of prospective MKs. It is prepared to deal with the important national issues that this country faces such as Chareidi integration, electoral reform, and Iran.
With the exception (we’ll get to that) of the settlements, Netanyahu has been an excellent Prime Minister, he’s protected Israel’s interests, and there’s no doubt he’s qualified to continue leading the country.
A large Likud would give them the mandate to do what they want, and what needs to be done.
But there’s a definite downside.
First of all the Settlements.
We certainly can’t ignore that Netanyahu heavily invested in settlement infrastructure such as schools and roads, as well as upgrading Ariel University. And no established Jewish towns were evacuated in this last term.
But he’s had the settlements on a starvation diet when it comes to additional housing – something that would have also helped the country’s center too, by releasing a lot of the housing pressure.
Then there was the Settlement Freeze, and letting Ehud Barak have a free and violent hand in Judea and Samaria, and there is the still purposely unadopted Edmond Levy report. Netanyahu had political reasons to use the Jews of Judea and Samaria as pawns in the larger political game, but it’s still unpleasant to be a pawn.
There’s no reason to assume that under a new Netanyahu-led government it won’t be more of the same, especially if things change and the Palestinian issue becomes important again.
The threats and intimidation coming out of the Likud, that there will be negative ramifications if a significant number of Settler don’t vote Likud, aren’t helping them win over friends and voters either.
The second issue comes down to who will also be sitting in the coalition.
There’s little doubt that Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid will be in, despite his left-wing, secularist views, or perhaps even because of them. He’s a comfortable partner for Netanyahu.
Kadima is likely to be there if they pass the threshold, and possibly even Tzipi Livni.
Numerically there won’t be a choice, particularly if Netanyahu doesn’t want the Chareidi parties in – which it seems he doesn’t.