• Yonatan Hassidim

Israeli Elections: Hope or Despair

Yonatan Hassidim

Staff Writer

The inconclusive results of Israel's fourth election in two years confused Israelis and Jews throughout the world, leaving them wondering if Israel's political system is functional.

About two years ago, the current Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, lost the majority of seats in the Knesset due to a minister leaving the majority coalition to join the opposition. Since then, the lack of a majority in the parliament has caused it to dissolve and call for a new election. Many, such as Barrack student Daniel Izhakov '24, had "no idea what the outcome of the recent election was" and didn't know if anyone won. To put this whole circumstance in simple terms, all of the elections so far have revealed that no coalition has agreed on who they want to become prime minister. Two years ago, the election ideology was right-wing against the left. It has become pro-Benjamin Netanyahu against anti-Netanyahu, leaving many parties who have right-wing ideologies sharing their opposition with the left against Benjamin Netanyahu. This has caused a situation where Benjamin Netanyahu can't form any majority coalition, but neither can the other parties who don't agree on who should replace him.

As you can see in the graph, this election result has an Anti-Netanyahu Bloc at the left, a Pro-Netanyahu Bloc at the right, and undecided parties in the middle. This multi-party democracy was working well for Israel in the past, until this recent deadlock. This is the first time the right-wing has a majority vote but is split between being against Bibi or voting for him. Despite there being a wider range of representation in the Israeli political system, it also disincentivizes the coalition of multiple parties to assemble at least 61 seats. Along with the high tensions of being with or against Bibi, this has caused a complete standstill.

Many wonder what the future looks like for the Israeli government, and there are many possibilities. The most probable would be simply holding another election and hoping for a final outcome, despite the several past elections which have failed. This may seem pointless and wasteful because these elections seem like "billions of dollars down the drain," as Ari Abramovitz '22 has claimed. Still, democracy, in general, is a costly form of government because of the many compromises and specific needs for all parties involved. Another step could be to make a radical change from Israel's multi-party system to directly voting for a prime minister, much like the United States system. The last option could be the uncommitted parties joining the anti-Netanyahu bloc or joining the pro-Netanyahu bloc, allowing them to gain the necessary seats to perform a coalition and assemble a government. This option is also very probable as the United Arab List, a far-left party, is seriously considering joining the anti-Netanyahu bloc and forming a coalition with exactly 61 seats. Yamina, the other uncommitted party, is unlikely to make a decision as it is a far-right party but very anti-Netanyahu.

However, in May, the Israeli political landscape suddenly changed. The violent Hamas eruption tremendously affected the future of the Israeli government. Beforehand, Yamina was ready to join the anti-Netanyahu bloc but, after the recent events, it ended all communications with that bloc. Despite the gap between the views regarding the Palestinian conflict, Yamina was willing to form a coalition with the anti-Netanyahu bloc regardless of it being built off of left-wing parties and the Arab parties. Yamina was prepared to put the Palestinian conflict aside to form a government without Netanyahu, but reality struck and revealed the shakiness of this coalition. With Yamina declaring this option no longer relevant, the momentum shifts back to the pro-Netanyahu bloc, increasing Netanyahu's reelection chances.

Whatever the next step is, Israel, without a doubt, still has a semi-functional political system. The people of Israel, along with Jews worldwide, must remember that although there are many political disagreements, our strength is in our unity. Keep the hope that this matter will eventually be resolved as we will overcome all these obstacles together.

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