With 92% of the votes for the Israeli parliament counted, the picture is quite clear and unsurprising. Although it looks like a “tie” between the right-wing Likud and the centrist Blue White, the meaning of it is a right-wing government no matter what.
Here are the results in order of seat numbers, according to Haaretz:
Blue White 32
Joint List (representing most Palestinian citizens) 13
Yisrael Beitenu (Israel is our Home) 9
Shas (ultra-orthodox) 9
United Torah Judaism 8
Yamina (right wing alliance) 7
Democratic Union 5
To make a viable coalition you need 61 seats. The left-center bloc doesn’t have it even if it was with the Joint List (that would be Blue White, Labor-Gesher, Democratic Union and Joint List, at 56). Unless Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu supports it, which he won’t.
The right-bloc could count to 55 (Likud, Shas, UTJ, Yamina), which is short – though if it got Lieberman to support it, it would make a coalition. But Lieberman already busted a coalition possibility earlier this year, with his insistence on tougher ultra-orthodox military draft measures, and now the ultra-orthodox of Shas and UTJ are even stronger (they had 16 seats between them last time, now 17).
And that’s why Lieberman is the kingmaker – because he insists on keeping the ultra-orthodox out, and calls for a Likud – Blue White collation with him in the middle, as the “only option”.
Now, although the Joint List is the third largest party, this has virtually no meaning in terms of its prospects concerning governance. Palestinian parties have never governed historically in Israel’s “Jewish democracy”, and the Zionist winners don’t really want them in any coalition for real. We need to cut to the chase. The kingmaker here is Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu, period.
Netanyahu or Likud in general will definitely not sit with the Joint List. Lieberman overnight clearly called the possibility of sitting with the Joint List “absurd”. Benny Gantz of Blue White has been more careful in rhetoric, but before the election he rejected sitting with the Joint List when its head Ayman Odeh mooted the possibility. Blue White is not a center party, really. It is a Likud-light party, with many former Likudniks at its helm, and it is pretending to be an opposition to the right, which it isn’t, really. It was a huge issue of contention for Blue White to even accept Ayman Odeh as a speaker in its recent orientalist rally for ‘Democracy’. Leading members Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser boycotted the rally because of it, and 3rd in command Moshe Ya’alon bemoaned that people were turning their cars around because they heard Odeh was booked to speak. If Labor is wary of being perceived as “Arab lovers”, you can bet Blue White is.
The Zionist left is reduced to two tiny parties, which managed to sigh in relief that they passed the electoral threshold of 4 seats. They don’t have a real say here at all.
So let’s get back to Lieberman, the kingmaker. Lieberman has ironically emerged as this kind of ‘moderate’ in between Likud and Blue White, because although he was to the right of Likud, his insistence on secularism has somehow painted him as more liberal than Netanyahu, who was much more willing to compromise with the ultra-orthodox. Imagine that: the same Lieberman who suggested that disloyal Palestinian citizens be decapitated with an axe, and that Palestinian prisoners be drowned by the thousands in the Dead Sea, is now this liberal moderate, because he serves as a counterweight to Netanyahu…
Lieberman calls the possibility of sitting with the Joint List absurd, but he is the epitome of the Israeli absurdity. A fascist racist is now the representation of Israeli “democracy”.
As for Blue White, it has attracted a lot of votes in the past half year, and it has a huge success in the kibbutz societies which traditionally voted Labor. It is being noted as the reincarnation of the traditional Labor party of “generals and Kibbutzim” in Israel. In other words, Blue White has provided Israelis who used to vote left, an option of voting Likud-light with the pretense of being centrist. Blue White is merely an indication of the fact that Israeli Zionist society is moving even further right.
There is only one winner in this election, and it’s the one that has always won: Zionism. The purpose of Israel’s “Jewish and democratic” construct has always, only been this: to secure Zionism. Some of us have been pointing out, that Zionism is an ultra-nationalist an even racist ideology, and it should surprise no one that this is the pull of it. Israel will get a right-wing, Zionist government, no matter what.
And now an afterthought: In all of this, we haven’t even talked about the majority of Palestine’s population, that is either under occupation or expelled, a population which can’t even vote. This is considered completely alright by Zionists, since even giving the vote to those who are not expelled but merely under military occupation may undermine the “Jewish and democratic” state. But, who cares, right?