Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Treading Water: The Israeli elections

Well, the results are in, and as I predicted, the most startling thing about it was the extent of the apathy among Israeli voters. Turnout was less than 65%, astounding for Israel.

Kadima ended up with only 28 seats, Labor with 20, and the Likud chrashed to 11 seats, with Shas taking 13 seats, Yisrael Beitenu taking 12 and the National Religious Party/National Union coalition taking 9 seats and the UTJ taking 6. Shas, Yisrael Beitenu and the religious parties , by the way, were part of Likud's center right coalition until Ariel Sharon decided that it was a good idea to evict Jews out of their homes in Gaza and the Northern Shomron.

This is far from a strong mandate for Ehud Olmert, who's own party said that a victory would have to consist of at least 34 seats.

The results of the election point out two obvious things; that there was a strong, visceral dislike by the Israeli electorate of the choices they were offered by the three major parties, and that the majority of the people of Israel no longer have any confidence in a lasting peace with the Palestinians, and their main desire is to finalize Israel's borders, retreat behind Israel's defensive barrier and have nothing more to do with them.

Another indicator of this is the strong 4th place showing of the new nationalist party Yisrael Beitenu and it's leader Avigdor Lieberman, now the predominant politician on the Right.

Unilateral disengagement is a fantasy, pleasant as it might be for people who have experienced the terrorism the Israelis have. For anyone who doubts that, the Palestinians themselves provided an answer yesterday by firing off the first Palestinian Katyusha rocket and Grad missiles from the Gaza Strip. Supplied by Iran via Russia, they were aimed at Israel’s key port, oil terminal and power station at Ashkelon. The Katyushas are in a different league than the clumsy Qassam missles launched at Israel every day from Gaza. And at some point, they won't miss.

Olmert is now going to have to build a coalition in order to form a government and his options aren't pleasant, in terms of dictating terms to potential coalition partners. He will have to give away more ministry portfolios than he wanted to. Labor, for instance, will want a large voice on the economy and social services, the Gil (senior citizen) Party will want increased entitlements and Olmert will have to entice at least one of the religious parties or Israel Beitenu as a partner..which could result in some major obstacles in giving away land in Judea and Samaria.

Or the Arab parties.

In any event the coalition will not be especially stable.

My personal prediction? A fractious coalition that will last at most, two years before the people of Israel realize that unilateral disengagement isn't a reality.

At that point, Israel's people will realize that they have a war for their very survival to win and respond accordingly.

And Kadima will be as much of a factor in that future election as Shinui was in this one.

1 comment:

Dan Zaremba said...

At that point, Israel's people will realize that they have a war for their very survival to win and respond accordingly.

I just hope it won't be too late.