Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Post Election: Analysis And Opinion

The elections are over and now we are starting to see more and more commentaries appear in the news. 

Below we see a variety of commentaries - all providing some interesting insights. 

Considering where we are on the timeline, this election must have great significance - even of that significance is met by PM Netanyahu's reelection. However, there have been some significant shifts and the bolded parts underscore the importance of these shifts:

After slogging through a dead, relatively uneventful campaign, the Israeli electorate went to the polls Tuesday and sent their leaders an unmistakable message: Change

Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, political novices, are the country’s poster boys for change – and they did astonishingly well. The old guard – Binyamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Liberman, Tzipi Livni, Shaul Mofaz – they all took it on the chin. However, a look at the initial results shows that the change the country is looking for is not necessarily a change in external policy, but changes within.

A vote for a dramatic change in the country’s diplomatic/security direction would have meant a torrent of voters for Livni, or Meretz, or even Kadima, all of which championed a different diplomatic position than the one Netanyahu has been promoting.
Livni’s campaign, for example, was all about returning to the way things were when she was negotiating with the PLO’s Ahmed Qurei. Tuesday’s results, and Livni’s devastatingly poor showing, didn’t indicate nostalgia for those days.
No, the votes did not pour in for Livni, but rather for Lapid, Shelly Yacimovich and Bennett.
And none of those candidates – not even Bennett, so often labeled extreme Right – ran a campaign on diplomatic/ security external issues.

No, these three candidates ran primarily on domestic matters: Lapid on a more equitable distribution of the army and tax burdens; Yacimovich on creating a more affordable state; and Bennett both on the cost-of-living issue and on inculcating the country with Jewish and Zionist values. Even Bennett did not front his campaign pitch with a call for more settlement construction (not that he doesn’t want it), but with a call for cheaper housing.

This engaged and concerned electorate is supremely aware of the external challenges it faces: from Iran, which calls for the country’s destruction, to an Egypt with a president who calls Jews the descendants of apes and pigs, to an imploding Syria, to a Palestinian Authority that has done nothing to show it is interested in an end-of-conflict agreement.
Still, it voted en masse for candidates who made those issues secondary in their campaigns.
Why? Because Israelis no longer feel those issues are important? No. It’s because Israelis do not feel they can necessarily impact those issues.
Israelis have been cured of a naivet̩ that if they just withdraw from territory, then peace will flow like a river. A second intifada and disastrous results from the Gaza withdrawal took care of that. They realize that there are actors on the other side Рin Egypt, Syria and the PA Рwhom they are not going to be able to influence.

If they hold up through the actual vote counting, the unexpected results could be seen a setback for Netanyahu's tough policies. The coalition-building process could force him to promise concessions to restart long-stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

The conflicting positions of the various parties point up the difficulties facing anyone who tries to set up a coalition government in Israel. If Netanyahu relies only on the religious and hard-line parties, it means constant fights with the opposition over social programs. If he tries to team up with the centrists, it means battles with the ultra-Orthodox over subsidies, as well as internal sniping over concessions to the Palestinians.
Some predicted Netanyahu might even fail to form a government.
"Netanyahu's victory is a pyrrhic victory, and it is not clear he will be the next prime minister," said Israeli political analyst Yaron Ezrahi. "Netanyahu will face difficulty in constructing a viable coalition," Ezrahi said, estimating the life span of the next Israeli government at no more than 18 months.

Netanyahu himself has only grudgingly voiced conditional support for a Palestinian state, and his own party is now dominated by hard-liners who oppose even this. A likely coalition partner, Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party, which won 12 seats, has called for annexing large parts of the West Bank, the core of any future Palestinian state.
Palestinians viewed the election results grimly, seeing it as entrenching a pro-settlement government.

Israelis are prudent to be concerned. Iran funds Hezbollah to Israel’s north in Lebanon. In addition, Iran has enabled Gaza militants in the south to acquire longer range rockets. These rockets threaten even Tel Aviv, far in the north, on a daily basis. Most importantly, Iran continues to pursue levels of uranium enrichment which will enable nuclear weapons development. Certain extremist religious elements within Iran seek to unite the Islamic world under a single caliphate. Obtaining a nuclear weapon would assist Iran in playing the leading role in this desire for dominion. The Iranian president consistently proclaims his desire to eradicate the Jewish state of Israel. These statements combined with the weapons provisions in the region and the nuclear program should not be counted as mere bombast.
Israelis remain concerned about Iran, ranking just below Palestinian relations on the list of international issues. Likewise, this nation should remain cognizant of the threat a nuclear armed Iran poses to the free world. The danger grows each as each day the enrichment process advances. Iran poses a threat to both the United States and our close ally, Israel. As Prime Minister Netanyahu stated this month, the world needs to “wake up” to the real challenges of Iran and Syria rather than remain focused on Jerusalem building construction.

Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party which made an historic achievement in Tuesday’s election, gave a post-election speech at party headquarters on Tuesday night.
Exit polls have predicted that the party will win 12 seats, making it the third or fourth largest party in the Knesset.

“My brothers and sisters, today we have established a new home in Israel,” Bennett declared. “Israel is coming back to itself. The JewishHome is the new home for everyone, of all the people of Israel, of Israel who believes in its strength.”
He added, “Today we set up a new home that knows how to protect its residents not only with concrete, but with martial prowess and power. Our enemies will know that you do not mess with Israel.”

Bennett declared that, "There is one truth - the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel." He noted that his party is “a home for proud Zionists. A new home that will not be held captive by interest groups, but will fight for lowering the cost of living for the people of Israel. In this home we will act for equal opportunities for all the people of Israel.”

Earlier on Tuesday evening, as he left his home towards his party’s headquarters,Bennett said, “Something new is beginning. Religious Zionism is back on center stage.”

MK Uri Ariel exulted over the results. “There hasn’t been an achievement like this before” for religious Zionism, he declared.

"We hope to continue from here and to help the nation of Israel and the state of Israel,” he said.

No comments: