Few interesting items pertaining to Israel’s election;
“Binyamin Netanyahu suffers setback as centrists gain ground in Israel election”.
So reads this morning’s headline in The Guardian. Other media outlets, including the BBC and The Independent have taken a similar line. There have always been ‘centrists’ in the Israeli political spectrum, but their apparent renaissance in this election, and their seizure of a decisive 27-seat bloc in the 19th Knesset, is being presented as offering a glimmer of hope for an equitable and durable peace in the Middle East.
As always with Middle East politics, things are never quite what they seem at first glance. My own take on the Israeli elections is that they are both good and bad news when it comes to assessing prospects for a just solution to the 65-year sore that is the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Israeli voters delivered a painful blow to Binyamin Netanyahu in Tuesday’s election, and halted the country’s worrying drift to the far right. The incumbent prime minister is likely to keep his job but his political bloc failed to put the expansion of West Bank settlements on top of the national agenda, and to sacrifice civil rights in favour of majority rule.
The election’s rising star, Yair Lapid, positioned himself as Israel’s new kingmaker and will be the key player in the next governing coalition. Lapid promised his voters one thing: normality – to live in Israel as if you’re living in western Europe or North America, with a government that worries about education, housing and economic opportunity, rather than Iran’s nuclear programme or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.