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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Now, the horse trading starts: Likud-Lapid-Bennett and... Livni?

Jonathan Tobin sees a coalition of Likud, Yesh Atid (Lapid), Jewish Home (Naftali Bennett). That would be 61 already. He also sees Tzipi Livni going in. The Haredi parties would be left outside in this scenario.
Though many, especially in the foreign press, tended to lump Lapid in with Labor as part of a center-left faction, his positions on security and defense issues are quite compatible with those of Netanyahu. His vote cannot be interpreted as a pro-peace protest against Netanyahu.
Rather, it is very much in a long tradition of Israeli parties that capitalized on secular resentment against the power of the ultra-Orthodox parties. He ought to be able to exact a high price from Netanyahu, but there’s little doubt the prime minister will be happy to pay it since Lapid might be easier to deal with than the political extortionists at Shas and United Torah Judaism that are always available to sell their votes to the highest bidders. 
As for Bennett, his total fell short of his highest poll numbers. But he is still in a very strong position. His 12 seats make him an essential part of any coalition led by Netanyahu. He will act as a brake on any possible lurch to the left on the peace process, but given the lack of interest on the part of the Palestinian Authority in returning to negotiations, its doubtful that he has much to worry about. Moreover, his religious Zionist party won’t have any trouble supporting a change in the draft laws to ensure more Haredim serve in the army.
Another potential member of the next government would be Tzipi Livni. Her new Hatnua Party won approximately seven seats. There’s no love lost between Livni and Netanyahu, but if she refuses to join a coalition that already included Lapid, she would be effectively marginalized. That’s something Livni probably wouldn’t be able to stand. Of all the party leaders, she is the one left with the toughest choice.
One party that is unlikely to join Netanyahu would be Labor, which finished a disappointing third. Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich knows that the only hope to build her party back to its position as one of Israel’s two biggest is by leading the opposition in the next Knesset. She will stand aside this time and hold onto the not-unreasonable hope that she will do far better the next time.
There will be those who will portray these numbers as something of a rebuke to Netanyahu, and there is something to that. But as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, his biggest problem in this vote was that he couldn’t lose. Since the lack of a serious alternative to him made his re-election a certainty, voters were free to support smaller parties rather than the Likud and therefore register their preference for the kind of coalition he would lead. Though Netanyahu would have liked to have a bigger total for Likud, he can’t be disappointed with the bottom line of this vote: he remains prime minister and will be able to pick and choose his coalition partners. The next government will be fractious and difficult to manage but for all of his problems, Netanyahu remains the only possible choice to be prime minister for the foreseeable future.
What could go wrong?

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5 Comments:

At 9:39 AM, Blogger HaDaR said...

Livni will be OUT, בס"ד, in any case.

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I agree - for Netanyahu a Zionist government would be able to reform the electoral system, enlist haredi Jews into the IDF and free up state land for housing. And Bayit Yehudi gets funding for the settlements since peace negotiations with the Arabs are unlikely. That leaves Yachimovich and Livni sitting in the opposition. Netanyahu would rather pay Bennett's and Lapid's price rather than the one the haredi parties want.

It puts him in the drivers' seat for the next four years and makes every one happy. The status quo may not be liked much in Washington and Europe but there's not much they can do about it.

What could wrong indeed

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger HaDaR said...

Jonathan Tobin has the WRONG NUMBERS and all his reasoning is distorted because of that...
The right numbers are here:
http://www.votes-19.gov.il/nationalresults

HOWEVER, just know that Kadima is over the TEMPORARY threshold only by a few hundred votes.
THAT can change with the MORE THAN 100,000 VOTES from the army... If just 10% of that goes to Otzmah LeIsrael (which is likely, since soldiers vote to the right), Kadima would be below the threshold...
One thing is sure: MANY SOLDIERS VOTE Bayit Yehudi and Shas...

WAIT, Carl, wait patiently... ;-)

 
At 10:33 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Hadar,

The soldiers' vote could help the Likud and Bayit Tehudi pick up some extra seats.

And the surplus vote has yet to be distributed.

That said, even if Kadima is finally shut out, Netanyahu would still definitely prefer Zionist partners and he wouldn't have to pay too high a price to live with them.

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Shy Guy said...

They shoot horses, don't they?

 

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