Netanyahu’s vision for a post-democratic Israel

On election day in Israel, Jonathan Chait wrote: Benjamin Netanyahu’s wild swerve, from right-wing to ultra-right-wing, in the run-up to Israel’s elections is a desperate tactic to reverse the trajectory of his flailing campaign. But it also represents an important marker in his career, and a clarifying moment in the course of the Israeli right.

Netanyahu has generally played a coy game on Palestinian statehood. He has supported the two-state solution in theory but abjured it in practice. His settlement policy has, likely by design, made negotiations impossible, which has seemed to produce his ideal result: Israel holds on to the West Bank and Netanyahu can blame the Palestinians for it. His new line dispenses with the coyness. Netanyahu now opposes yielding territory, full stop. If Netanyahu prevails, the nature of Israel’s diplomatic alliance with the United States will have to change — the U.S. cannot continue to extend its U.N. veto to a country whose government has formally disavowed negotiations.

His comments today are more alarming still. Rallying his supporters to the polls, Netanyahu warns, “Arab voters are going to the polls in droves. Left-wing organizations are bringing them in buses.” Of course, the availability of Arab voting rights is a longtime point of Israeli pride, a fundamental defense of the principle of Zionism against its existential critics.

Taken together, Netanyahu’s comments present a coherent and chilling vision of his long-term strategy. His intention is to maintain singular Israeli control in perpetuity over the entire territory that the early Zionists were once happy to partition into two states. This course will eventually lead to pressure for Palestinians to gain a democratic voice within the institutions that control their lives, but Netanyahu treats that as illegitimate, as well. He proposes to snuff out every peaceful outlet for Arab political aspirations. [Continue reading…]

The Jerusalem Post reports: The Israeli elections took a dramatic turn in the early morning hours on Wednesday as official tallies from nearly all precincts indicate that Likud has opened up a significant lead over Zionist Union, a far cry from the virtual dead heat that television exit polls had reported Tuesday evening.

With nearly 90 percent of precincts reporting before dawn on Wednesday, the Likud holds a major edge over Zionist Union in the distribution of Knesset seats.

According to the official up-to-the-minute tally as of 04:20 local time, Likud wins 30 seats while Zionist Union comes in second at 24 seats.

The parties that follow are Joint Arab List (13); Yesh Atid (11); Kulanu (10); Bayit Yehudi (8); Shas (7); United Torah Judaism (7); Yisrael Beytenu (6); and Meretz (4).

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