The battle lines for the most consequential Israeli election of the 21st century are drawn and the battle is about to begin in earnest
There was high drama mixed with low comedy on the right side of the political ledger in Israel tonight as the factions and fractions of the religious nationalist universe were busy trading off their natural tendency to micro-segment themselves into more sub-brands than French wine and their understanding that the consolidation on the left having already occurred and the specter of an extreme left-wing government resting on the votes of anti-Zionist Arab members of the Knesset ever more real, this is a do or die moment for them.
In the end, the New Right (Ha’Yamin Ha’Hadash) with Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, which is the moderate marker of the religious-nationalist movement, has combined forces with the Jewish Home (Ha’Bait Ha’Yehudi), which represents the mainstream part of the movement. The most extreme marker of the movement, Jewish Might (Otzmah Yehudit), a party which represents the extremist views of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and is currently led by the no less controversial Itamar Ben-Gvir, was not included in the union and is going to run separately.
The drama involved the promise made to Itamar Ben Gvir by the head of the Jewish Home party, Rabbi Rafi Peretz to include him in any deal he made with the more moderate Naftali Bennett of the New Right. It so happens though that Mr. Ben-Gvir famously has on his living room wall a photograph of the notorious Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein who in 1994 entered the Muslim part of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron with an automatic rifle and opened fire on the arab worshippers who were there, killing 29 of them before he was beaten to death.
A social media spat followed in which Mr. Bennett expressed his utter lack of desire to run in the election on the same list with a person who has a photo of a terrorist on his wall and Mr. Ben-Gvir mockingly agreed to remove the photograph. In the end, the very real and very existential (as far as the religious nationalists, many of whom reside in Judea and Samaria, are concerned) danger of a left-wing Arab-supported government prevailed and the parties to the right of the center-right Likud consolidated into substantially just one. Mr. Ben-Gvir’s party is not expected to clear the four seat Knesset minimum or draw a significant amount of right wing votes.
On the left side of the political ledger, the two parties to the left of the center-left Blue and White, the one representing affluent secular Ashkenazi elites and the one representing lower-class Sephardi and Mizrahi voters who vote their wallets rather than their ideology, have combined into one globalist-socialist-populist party that is expected to clear the four-seat threshold.
The battle lines are thus drawn. On the left, the socialist-globalists, the “Russian” secularists, the anti-Zionist Arabs, and the mainstream left wing secular Jews. On the right, the ashkenazi Orthodox, the Sephardi Orthodox, the religious nationalists, and the mainstream right-wing Jews. The prize is for the coveted 61-seat majority, preferably without the Arabs.
If the left gets a 61 majority with no need for votes from the Arab list, Israel will have for the first time in decades a left-wing government. If the right manages to get 61, there will be another right wing government. If the left can only get 61 with the Arabs, this time around they may go for it. However, such a government will plunge Israel into completely unchartered waters and nobody can predict how things will turn out.
Stay tuned to our site for all the latest news on this election, one of the most critical and crucial for the Zionist movement since the Oslo days in the early 1990s.
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