Call for early elections in Israel

By calling early elections, Netanyahu avoided struggles with coalition partners.

At the command of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli parliament dissolved itself in preparation for an early election on January 22. He chose this option because his right-wing government, composed of nationalist and religious hardliners, could not agree on an austerity budget or military service for ultra-orthodox Jews.

By calling early elections, Netanyahu avoided struggles with coalition partners over reductions in child benefits - mainly for large ultra-orthodox families - and exemptions from military service for ultra-orthodox youths. He also evaded negotiations with the Palestinians and postponed a clash with the US, Israel's sole friend and ally, over his insistence that the only way to deal with Tehran's nuclear programme is to use military force to wipe out Iran's nuclear facilities, risking regional war.

Netanyahu was confident that he will, once again, be prime minister in a coalition comprised of the same partners because he has no serious challengers and the right dominates the political scene. The Israeli press refers to him as ‘King Bibi’ and one pundit predicted that he could win a third term in 2017.

Massive support

A poll conducted last week showed that Netanyahu has the support of 57 per cent of voters while only 28 per cent went for a former rival, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni who quit political life last year. Another survey, carried out by the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, showed that even if Kadima, an offshoot of Netanyahu's rightist Likud bloc, got together with the Labour party, and took a larger number of seats than the Likud, Natanyahu would still be prime minister. Centrists and leftists simply cannot win enough seats to form a viable government. The majority, once largely socialist-left, has shifted decisively to the right.

There are a number of reasons for this shift: the immigration of a million anti-communist Jews from the Soviet bloc in the 1980s and 1990s, the growth by high birth rate of the conservative ultra-orthodox and Oriental orthodox Jewish communities, and the rise of East Jerusalem/West Bank settler power.

Right wing power on the ground in Israel has been bolstered by the campaign funding for Israeli politicians by right-wing supporters in the Jewish diaspora. Indeed, more than half of such funding comes from abroad, with Netanyahu securing 96.8 per cent from foreign donors and his Likud bloc 67 per cent.

By contrast, Labour party leader Shelly Yacimovich raised only 0.03 per cent from foreign sources while left-wing Meretz depends solely on Israeli funding. This means that key Israeli politicians are bound to the agendas of foreign donors, many of whom also back the "Greater Israel" project and support hawkish, expansionist settler policies and curbs on critics.

Haaretz accused the outgoing right-wing dominated parliament of being "anti-democratic" on the domestic front because it "brought the tyranny of the majority to new heights."

Haaretz said this Knesset, the 18th in Israel's short history, rode "roughshod over vulnerable minorities, [particularly] Israeli Arabs, as well as over civil society groups and human rights organisations."

On the Palestinian front, Haaretz said Netanyahu and his ministers "searched tirelessly for ways to prevent the evacuation of settlement outposts established on stolen, privately owned Palestinian land" in violation of court orders.  This legislature passed the Nakba law, banning Palestinian commemorations of the catastrophe that befell Palestinians with Israel's creation, and refused legal protections for Palestinian citizens of Israel wishing to live in Jewish majority communities.

Rule by the right is bad news for Israel, the Palestinians, the region and the world.
The two-state solution is dead, slain by Israel's colonisation enterprise and policy of dividing and ruling Palestinians by confining them to enclaves in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.  This policy also negates the so-called one-state solution involving the granting by Israel of citizenship to Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israelis are determined that the country should remain a "Jewish state" rather than become a multi-confessional state.  In order to maintain this policy, Israel has adopted the South African apartheid system.

This means there will be no political deal between Israelis and Palestinians, no peace between Arabs and Israelis, and the international community will have to face the permanent threat of conflict between Israel and other West Asian countries.  Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and wars against the Arabs have already radicalised generations of Arab and Muslim youth and are certain to continue this process for as long as Palestinians are denied self-determination in  their homeland and Israel wages wars on neighbours.    

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