Israeli Elections Recap - Stripping Out All The Confusion

By Brice Green (Columnist, Former Local Editor) [?]

Published: February 23, 2009 and Updated: February 26, 2009
Original LA News Desk Content

Israel held elections recently, and it seems that nobody knows who won yet. The Left-Center Party, Kadima, received 28 seats in the Knesset, but the Center-Right Party, Likud, has been given the right to govern. At this point it is perfectly ok to go WHAT? What follows is an attempt at an explanation and the resulting dilemmas.

During the elections, the Kadima party, led by Tzipi Livni, won 28 seats out of 120-- the most of any Israeli party. However, the leader of the Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, also claims victory with 27 seats. While it seems obvious that Kadima won, as it has more seats, think again. Israel has a multiparty system, and thus whichever party can create a coalition with both the Avigdor Liebermanís party (an ultra-right-wing nationalist party that ran a quite frank anti-Arab campaign) and various ultra-orthodox parties. Yisrael Beiteinu (Liebermanís Party) might seem like a cleaner fit with the Likud party, they and the ultra-orthodox disagree on major policy issues. Also, there is still resentment in the Likud party toward Lieberman, as he is responsible for splitting the conservative vote, which might give Tzipi Livni a foothold. So far, it looks like a right wing coalition will form, but there is still slim hope for a centrist collation comprised of Kadima, Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Labor (the old liberal party).

These results are not only confusing, but they also could prove devastating for Obama. Obama has said that peace in between Israel and Palestine would be his top foreign policy objective, but if a right wing collation is formed, the possibility shrinks quite a bit since right wing leaders are adamant about keeping most of the West Bank. However, the last ditch attempt to form a centrist collation would be more dovish. Also the coalition would not be run solely by the Kadima and Likud parties, but instead would always have the high-pitched nationalistic right-wing fervor so lovingly provided by the Yisrael Beiteinu party.

And thus, the fate of Israel is being decided by a man once called ďSatanĒ by a prominent rabbi (albeit an ultra-orthodox one). The Israeli electorate has provided the country with results that donít make sense, will most likely lead to gridlock in the Knesset, and that ruin its chances of peace. What doesnít make sense here is that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians have said that they want peace, but the people still elect leaders who want nothing of the sort.

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