With three weeks to go until the elections in Israel, it is already clear that this time around it is just going to be “more of the same”. This election, like the three before it, are no longer about ideology, about what people think, about how people want to see the future of Israel. There are only two options left to choose from: against Bibi, or for Bibi. Most politicians stress only this choice as the major one people will have to make and they are being encouraged to do so by both TV and the newspapers where no opportunity is wasted to show the status of the two “blocs” and if Netanyahu will be able to form a government or not. It creates such absurdities as throwing Meretz, the only real “leftist” political party, on the same heap with Gideon Sa’ar, the leader of a newly established party, who is known to be ultra-right wing, racist and on the border of fascist. In the other camp, Netanyahu promised almost everything possible to have two ultra-right racist and fascist religious parties to run together, in order to assure that they will pass the election threshold, which, separately they would never have been able to.
The position of the Arab parties is still unclear, and they are expected to support the “no-Bibi” camp, which is most likely going to be led by Yair Lapid, who in the past has stated very clearly that he will not support any government that is being given a majority by the Arab Israelis. Netanyahu has managed a rather brilliant political move by succeeding in partially breaking up the United Arab coalition and assuring the support of one of the Arab parties, while it is unclear what he promised them. (Not that it is relevant what he promised them, because the Arab Israelis, more than anyone, should know that promises by Netanyahu are not worth the paper they are written on and most of them are not even written down).
The absurd situation that is arising from the loss of ideology by the Israelis, the lack of interest in social, political and economic issues and the intense focus on “Bibi vs No-Bibi, turns out to be giving the fringe of Israeli society the opportunity to decide these elections. Both camps are, by themselves, even with the support of all possible parties, not able to form a government with a majority of sixty-one, and the balance will be tipped this way or that by the fate of the fringe parties. With the electoral threshold being 3.25% or four Knesset seats, if Meretz will pass the threshold and obtain at least four seats, most likely the “no-Bibi” side will win the elections, albeit by a very small majority. If Meretz fails to pass the threshold, the votes that they did get will be lost, to the advantage of the “Bibi” camp. On the other end of the scale, the ultra-right fascist religious parties are in the same position as Meretz. If they pass the electoral threshold, the will most likely keep Netanyahu in Balfour street, while their failure to obtain four seats in the Knesset may likely be the end of Bibi as prime minister. A third, not at all unrealistic scenario may be that both the fringes pas or both fail to pass the threshold, which will then most likely result in a stalemate and new elections in September.
It is difficult to decide which of these three options is worse. If Netanyahu wins in the end, he, and his partners will quickly remember their ideology and the attacks on the Judicial system, the attempts at claiming sovereignty over the Occupied Territories, the increasing influence of religion on daily life, etc. etc. will quickly resume with increased vigor and urgency.
If Netanyahu is indeed ousted, the “No-Bibi” coalition will be such a wild mix of political opposites, that we will simply see a repeat of the embarrassing situations we have witnessed in the Netanyahu-Gantz coalition, that time and money will be wasted on endless bickering, resulting in total paralysis of government, while a heath and economic crisis is still far from over.
The option of new elections may seem the least painful, but chances are slim that serious changes will come about and the country will remain in it political chaos we are at the moment.
How many elections will it take for the Israelis to come to their senses?
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