Commentary Magazine


Three Pointers on the Israel Election

Here’s some advice for all those following the twists and turns of the Israeli election:

1.    Don’t underestimate the will of the voters. What they want – and public opinion polls will prove it very soon – is some kind of unity government. The Likud Party and Binyamin Netanyahu will have to pay a heavy price to get Kadima in, and Netanyahu is willing to do it. The pressure on Kadima to join will be significant. True, politically it might be better for Kadima to wait for the collapse of a right-wing coalition headed by Netanyahu. But it will not be good for the country, and Livni has vowed, just two days ago, in her “victory” speech, to put country first, party second.
2.    Don’t buy the smiling faces of Netanyahu and the leaders of right wing parties that he is now courting. Sitting with them in a coalition — in which they will have the final say — is Netanyahu’s worst nightmare. He thinks some of them are real nut cases, and knows that they will surely bring about his demise. And by the way, it’s not Lieberman who worries him the most — it’s the National Union, a party so far to the right that serious people, even within Likud, think it would be much better for the new coalition to find a way to avoid their partnership. It’s not Lieberman holding the key, and it’s not President Shimon Peres, and it’s not Netanyahu. Livni lost the prime ministership, but she’s the one holding the key to the next government.
3.    Avoid the news from Israel for a couple of days. If history teaches us anything, it’s that the first days of coalition building are a waste of time. Everything is spin, manipulation and positioning. The news-junky gets a lot of information with zero relevance. My advice: read a good book, go out to dinner, spend time with your family, and come back to the news cycle in a week or so. You’ll be saving a lot of valuable time.

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