NYT editorial on Israeli election: An Israeli Election Turns Ugly

Israel’s election has done a lot to reveal the challenges facing the country and the intentions of the men who seek to lead it. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outright rejection of a Palestinian state and his racist rant against Israeli Arab voters on Tuesday showed that he has forfeited any claim to representing all Israelis.

Mr. Netanyahu, with two years to go in his current term, called the election in December for reasons that are still unclear. He expected to win an easy victory and then ended up fighting for his political life in a bitter battle with Isaac Herzog, the leader of the new center-left Zionist Union alliance and son of a former Israeli president. With 99.5 percent of the ballots counted, the YNet news site reported Wednesday morning that Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party had possibly won 30 seats in the Knesset and Mr. Herzog’s Zionist Union had got 24 seats.

While Mr. Netanyahu ended up with more seats, it is Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who will decide which leader gets to cobble together the next coalition government, the norm in a multiparty state where no one party has ever won an outright majority in the 120-member Knesset. The process could take six weeks, and religious parties are likely to hold the key to victory, an asset for Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Netanyahu showed that he was desperate, and craven, enough to pull out all the stops. On Monday, he promised that if his Likud faction remained in power, he would never allow the creation of a Palestinian state, thus repudiating a position he had taken in 2009.

His behavior in the past six years — aggressively building Israeli homes on land that likely would be within the bounds of a Palestinian state and never engaging seriously in negotiations — has long convinced many people that he has no interest in a peace agreement. But his statement this week laid bare his duplicity, confirmed Palestinian suspicions and will make it even harder for him to repair his poisoned relations with President Obama, who has invested heavily in pushing a two-state solution.

Mr. Netanyahu added to the ugliness of the campaign when, during Tuesday’s voting, he said in a video on social media: “Right-wing rule is in danger. Arab voters are streaming in huge quantities to the polling stations.” This outrageous appeal to hard-line voters implied that only he could save Israel from its enemies, including the country’s Arab citizens, who represent 20 percent of the population and have long been discriminated against. There were signs that Arab Israelis were turning out in somewhat higher numbers, apparently to vote for the Joint Arab List, a coalition of four small parties.

Mr. Netanyahu’s demagogy further incites the rage that has torn the country apart. There were other inflammatory moments in recent days. Mr. Netanyahu claimed that nefarious foreign sources were trying to overthrow him and also promised to build more settlements, which most of the world considers to be illegal. Earlier this month, he made a subversive speech before Congress to castigate the Obama administration for seeking a nuclear deal with Iran, but that seems to have done little to enhance his support in Israel.

In his desperation, Mr. Netanyahu resorted to fear-mongering and anti-Arab attacks while failing to address the issues that Israelis said they were most worried about, namely the high cost of housing and everyday living in Israel. Although the economy has grown, the country has experienced widening income disparities and is now one of the most unequal societies in the advanced world.

Mr. Herzog made such domestic concerns a centerpiece of his campaign. While peace talks with the Palestinians were not a major focus of the Zionist Union campaign, or the election generally, he made clear that if elected he would try to restart negotiations.

Late Tuesday, Mr. Rivlin said he would work for a national unity government with Likud and the Zionist Union. It is difficult to see how Mr. Netanyahu could find enough common ground with any moderate faction to govern constructively.

And of course this is a great disappointment for the Palestinians who are anxiously waiting for a peace deal. I have not followed the internal Israeli political concerns but by now surely any fool can see that the Palestinians have not the slightest interest in ‘peace deals.’

Related: The Role of the Palestinian Authority in Israel’s Election Results: Those around the world who are upset with Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu electoral victory over the Zionist Camp party should put much of the responsibility for Israel’s rightward turn squarely where it belongs: on the Palestinian Authority (PA).

At least twice over the last 15 years, Israel has offered the Palestinians extraordinarily generous two-state solutions. The first time was in 2000-2001 when Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton offered the Palestinians more than 90% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, with a capital in Jerusalem. Yassir Arafat turned down the offer and started an intifada, in which 4000 people were killed. This self-inflicted wound by the leader of the PA contributed greatly to the weakening of Israel’s peace camp, most particularly of Ehud Barak’s Labor party. The current Zionist Camp party, which is an offshoot of Labor, has continued to suffer from that weakening.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    Earth to New York Times: Netanyahu won. You lost. Get over it.

  • Alain

    So the old communist whore is upset? Who really cares.

  • Interesting editorial – I usually get attacked for pointing out the fact, but there is heavy Jewish presence in New York Times and other major outlets of the mainstream media. Yet they have extremely negative opinion about the results of the Israeli election and some even call for boycotting the new government. They even have a section with comments favourited by NYT with mostly Jewish names – and all of them are outraged by the warmonger Netanyahu. It shows that the abyss between the diaspora and Israel is widening. The New York Jews, who voted for Homo Barry and his racist team, simply are not capable of understanding Israel and its problems. If any of their recommendations were accepted, Israel would’ve disappeared decades ago.

    In one of his last speeches Rabbi Kahane said that Israel shouldn’t rely on protection and handouts from the USA, that’s the way to run a synagogue, but not a country. A country must rely on its own creativity and industrial potential. Maybe his statement is worth remembering when your fellow “progressive” Jews are stabbing you in the back.

    • Clausewitz

      The Jews at the NYT are commies first, and only relate to their supposed religion down around number ten on their list of priorities. The perfect example of the term JINO.

  • andycanuck

    And the Obama regime in the W.H. is about to try to try to eff-up Israel as much as it can…

    How dare that insolent Jooooo not lose the election. (Sorry that the link is to Politico.)

    • andycanuck
    • Waffle

      Bibi is giving Barry the finger in so many ways. Bibi understands the American psyche very well. After all, he grew up in upper New York State where his father was a professor of history at the iconic Cornell University. And Barry grew up in Hawaii (among other places in Asia.)
      Bibi also understands how American Jews have sold out. Their new religion is Progressivism. They must be deaf, dumb and blind not to realize the fragile nature of Israeli existence. This will not be the first time in our history that alone, we will have to fight the battle for surviva. But I am optimistic — after all David beat Goliath, didn’t he?

  • Canadian

    And Obola promised that he`d close down Gitmo…

  • dance…dancetotheradio

    Yeah, Netanyahu is so craven that he seeks self preservation.
    Fuck off!

  • eMan14

    So Mr. Netanyahu is against the creation of a Palestinian state. And the Palestinians favour the destruction of Israel and all Jews.
    So this makes the Israelis the bad guys. Obviously the New York Times have no problem impartial reporting.

  • cmh
  • Hard Little Machine

    The Times is Obama’s mouthpiece. You are hearing Obama’s words when you read the Times.

    • David Murrell

      The NYT, as an anti-Semitic newspaper, opposes self-determination of Jews, to live in a democracy. The corrupt newspaper favours only war-crime-committing Muslims running their own respective anti-democratic homelands.