I’ve been far busier than I expected to be (if you ever study Advanced Higher History in Scotland, anticipate the amount of research you’ll have to do!), which is likely only to get worse for the next two weeks, so I apologise if this isn’t as in depth as I would like. The matter is also incredibly complicated and I know woefully little, but here is a basic analysis of the Israeli election held on the 22nd January.
As you can see, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Beiteinu coalition did indeed win the most votes of any party, and by a large margin. But this is Israeli politics where votes tend to be scattered among a large number of parties, so even the ‘winner’ of this election won less than a quarter of the popular vote, which corresponds to its particular influence.
Predictions for the election suggested that the Israeli electorate would shift into the far-right, with expectations that the Jewish Home party and orthodox Jewish parties would do well. And while collectively these parties did gain around a quarter of the vote, the main winner of the election seems to have been the centrist party, Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, which is almost certain to be included within any potential coalition. But even if Netanyahu does ally with Yesh Atid, which could easily happen despite their opposing views on Palestine and other issues*, they’ll collectively still only hold 50 of the 120 seats in the Knesset. They could form a minority government, but with Israel’s divided and potentially unstable system this might be unwise.
Possibilities to complete this coalition with one more party would be with either Labor, The Jewish Home or Shas. The most commonly cited party is The Jewish Home, though it stands opposed to Yesh Atid on many issues – such as forcing ultra-Orthodox Jews to serve in the armed forces – so it’s unclear how successful this would be. I’m not sure why Labor hasn’t been touted as a greater possibility; perhaps because it disagrees with Likud Beiteinu on so many issues. Neither side seems willing to engage with the Jewish religious factions. The Liberals don’t have enough seats to join a coalition, and I can’t see the Arab parties being included. But this process of negotiating the formation of a government could go on for months, and even then could end in failure and force a second election to take place.
So this could go any way. I personally do not want The Jewish Home to be part of any potential government, though the surprising and welcome success of Yesh Atid may counteract the negative impact they could have. Stay tuned!
*Netanyahu, going by his settlement policies, appears to support the one-state solution – i.e. that Israel takes control of the West Bank and incorporates it into its territory. Lapid would prefer a two-state solution in which Palestine would achieve independence, though even he is in agreement that Israel should occupy the entirety of Jerusalem.