Yesterday, Israel’s voters surprised Prime Minister Netanyahu and themselves by returning a closely divided Knesset, presenting him with a challenging task to pull together a majority coalition. Our friends in Meretz doubled their representation from three to six seats, constituting the largest of four “left” parties but still half of its proportion of the vote upon its launch as a bloc of three small dovish parties in 1992, and as Rabin’s main coalition partner.
The big winner is Yair Lapid’s brand new centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, the likely key to a new coalition. A possible achievement of a coalition led by Netanyahu and including Lapid is an effort to integrate the ultra-religious Haredim into “burden sharing” in national service (military conscription or some agreed upon substitute) and in the economy, meaning jobs instead of welfare for an inordinate number of “Torah scholars.” What is not likely to result from such a coalition is a realistic peace initiative.
Our thanks to Lilly Rivlin for sharing this YouTube video of a fascinating talk by Yair Lapid to a mostly Haredi audience.
Here are the election results as transmitted by J Street’s Israel representative, Yael Patir:
Registered to vote: 5,656,705
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