As Israel’s campaign to elect a Prime Minister begins today, one has to ask: Is the Likud/Beiteinu coalition a step forward for Israel? Or is it a step towards what the New York Times calls “a creeping extremism that would not serve Israel.”
This extremist coalition has done nothing but alienate moderate voters. Latest polls show Netanyahu’s Likud down to at least 32 seats in the Knesset. Of course being a frontrunner in any election carries its risks and it is never a hundred percent, but the way the Netanyahu administration has conducted this re-election campaign has been nothing short of careless and irresponsible. Waging a brutal attack on the people of Gaza in order to appease certain segments of the Israeli population to gain votes was very reckless and needless to say, unnecessary. Since assuming office in 2009, the Prime Minister has never made up his mind. He has juggled between alienating the prospect for a peaceful two-state solution in an attempt to pacify his inner nationalistic and extreme religious tendencies while speaking ill of President Abbas’s attempts to appease the situation.
This has done nothing but anger moderate members of the Knesset. Earlier this month, Ms. Yacimovich, current leader of the Labour party, who is counting 17 seats in the Knesset has spoken out against the extreme right coalition: “Either we form a government under me, or we lead the opposition.” She has urged other moderate parties in Israel to do the same, to commit to not serve another four years under Netanyahu. That being said, it is without doubt that, if Netanyahu is reelected into office, prominent moderate thinkers such as Shelly Yacimovich and Tzipi Livni (who have not been aligned with Netanyahu’s policies) will eventually have to ‘sell their souls to the devil’.
The election of a right wing coalition will not only estrange moderates in Israel, but will also bring about a sense of fear from world powers. The already dysfunctional relationship between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is bound to get worse. The Prime Minister has always been a hardliner when it came to internal issues such as peace with the Palestinians. Let us just say that this election will not only determine the fate of Israeli politics, but will also define Israel’s international role in the near future.
This article was by Nadim Souss, a recent graduate from the University of Manchester where she studied History and Sociology with a specialization in China. It originally appeared on the International Political Forum.