Friday, June 5, 2020 -
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Takeaways from Israel’s unwanted, repeat election

Israel’s electoral scene is a mess — but it is a democracy. No Arab state or entity can say the same.

About the only thing all Israeli voters can agree on these days is that no one wants another election after Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government. A new election is a waste of time, of money and, worse, a waste of opportunities for peace. President Trump can’t very well launch his Palestinian peace plan when Israel’s prime minister might not be there in a couple of months. Or at least Trump cannot launch it effectively. Of course, Trump’s peace plan may go the way of all previous peace plans, but one should never condemn hope.

Here are five more takeaways from this failed electoral process:

• Although Netanyahu will, before the next election, have served longer than anyone else as Israel’s prime minister, this may be the end of the political line for him.

• The Arab parties have put aside their internecine squabbles and will likely reunite in the coming election. This will likely increase their representation in the Knesset.

• Because the religious parties and Avigdor Liberman’s right-wing party were the proximate causes of Netanyahu’s failure to form a coalition, they will fight all the harder for votes, so as to tip the balance in their favor.

In truth, there does not seem to be a meeting point between these two political poles. The one desires a secular Israel in which full time Torah study enjoys no special privileges, and military burdens are allotted equally. The other desires a Jewish state in which full time Torah study is regarded as a form of military defense equal in importance to military service. That Torah study and military service can be combined in various forms does not speak to either Liberman or those religious parties that oppose his view.

• It is an open question as to whether the new party, Blue and White, which captured a dramatic 35 seats, will repeat.

• Israeli voters these days are not particularly focused on the Palestinian issue. The political left has all but disappeared, what with the Palestinian leadership — both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas — having rejected all Israeli peace offers since 2000, and with Hamas having sent tens of thousands of missiles into Israeli civilian areas over the years.

While the world calls on Israel to make peace and ease the plight of the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, Israelis themselves live with reality, not with theory. That reality is hard: No Palestinian leader has shown any desire for a two-state solution; that is, for the permanent Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state in the region. This is another political polarity that will not soon be bridged.

Meanwhile, we witness Israeli democracy at work: free political parities, free electoral speech, free elections, full voting rights for Israel’s Arab citizens.

No Arab state or entity can say the same. As perhaps the most poignant proof, the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is now in the 13th year of his four-year term.

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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