Netanyahu Already Won

Looking at the Israeli elections right now, it appears questionable whether or not either side will be able to form a coalition now that Netanyahu has been indicted. Pre-indictment polls showed that a right leaning coalition could be formed with 61 seats. Post-indictment polling shows that 2-3 seats have shifted to the left.  This will likely mean that no coalition can be formed because of conflicts among the parties in the center and the left. It’s quite possible that there will be another election in November. That is unless Netanyahu steps down and allows for a Blue-White-Likud coalition to be formed without him.

It is not entirely certain that Netanyahu will be convicted of any of the charges that he faces or that courts will even determine that the laws involved are enforceable. Can you really argue that a politician who supports a policy before a donation or gift was made has accepted a bribe because after the gift was made they supported the same policy beneficial to the donor that they supported before it? Can you argue a quid is enough to charge someone with accepting a bribe and enacting a quid pro quo even if there was no quo enacted or even an attempted quo? We’ll see what the Israeli legal system decides.

In the meantime, progressive Jews and other minority communities in Israel have been harmed in recent years by Netanyahu’s attempts to stay in power and his willingness to work with and yield policies to more and more extreme anti-Progressive anti-Secular voices on the political right. It is refreshing to see the possibility that an alternative government might be formed led by Blue White which has pledged to support an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel for example.

Additionally, it is simply a reality that Democracies should not have the same leader for over a decade. They begin to look too much like monarchies. The leader of Israel is its Prime Minister, not its Netanyahu. Even if one wanted to argue that Benjamin Netanyahu is the best Prime Minister that Israel could possibly have, it would be far from a bad thing to have a break from his leadership, even a short one. If one believes that Netanyahu’s leadership for so long has made them feel like they have no voice and that nothing ever changes, even a short pause in his leadership because the laws of the nation take precedence would be helpful in supporting the idea and ideals of the democratic nation.

There is no certainty that Netanyahu will not win enough votes to form a coalition. He might even be able to both form a coalition and defend himself against the charges he faces. But regardless, he has already won on the major issues.

Think about where Israel is today?

The vast majority of Israelis believe that:

  • There is not an option to negotiate a two state solution right now because of the state and views of the Palestinian leadership,
  • Jerusalem will and must remain the undivided capital of Israel,
  • The major settlement blocs will always remain a part of Israel,
  • The Golan Heights will always be a part of Israel,
  • Major territorial concessions in the name of peace have not and will not bring peace,
  • In any future agreement Israel must have troops on and control the Jordanian border,
  • Expansion of housing in existing settlements is essential to help with the housing crisis in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,
  • Israel cannot expect to be treated fairly by the United Nations,
  • Iran is the major threat facing Israel,
  • The United States is an essential ally, but that Israel cannot trust that it always will be supportive, and
  • Therefore Israel needs good relationships with a broad swath of nations including no few that are not particularly virtuous.

Go back 20 years and you’ll find that none of these views was accepted by more than a slim majority and none of them by such an overwhelming majority of Israelis that they were to be assumed obvious. The leading political party on the left, the Blue White party, supports all of the views cited above. Even if Blue White wins and Likud isn’t even in a coalition, those policies will not change any time soon, if ever. As the Labor party rightly points out, this makes Blue White historically a right of center party. But something on the order of 75-80% of the Israeli electorate and a higher percentage of the Jewish electorate support those positions. 75-80% of the Israeli electorate then hold positions historically considered right of center.

No matter what happens in the upcoming elections, in many ways, Netanyahu has already won.

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