ZOA: Israeli Electorate Gives Majority To Right-Of-Center Parties, Opposed To Concessionary Policies
February 12, 2009


 Meretz Leader: “Left-wing was hit hard”



The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has greeted the results of Israeli 2009 elections as strongly indicating that the Israeli public opposes further one-sided concessions towards unreconstructed, terror-supporting Arab negotiating partners.


Final results are as follows: Kadima (28), Likud (27), Yisrael Beiteinu (15), Labor (13), Shas (11), United Torah Judaism (5), United Arab List (4), National Union (4), Hadash (4), Jewish Home (3), Meretz (3), Balad (3).


This breakdown gives the right-of-center and religious parties – Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, National Union, United Torah Judaism and Jewish Home – 65 seats. In contrast, the parties of the left-of-center – Kadima, Labor, Meretz – achieved only 44 seats.  (This excludes the anti-Zionist Arab parties – Hadash, United Arab List and Balad – which obtained 11 seats. These parties would almost certainly be no part of any coalition and even if they were, would afford the left-of-center a total of only 55 seats).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The Israeli electorate – in giving a clear majority of 65 seats to the right-of-center parties, as opposed to 44 seats for the left-of-center parties (excluding the seven Arab seats) is clearly opposed to a concessionary policy towards the Palestinians.


“Among Jewish Israelis, 60 percent leaned right as against only 40 percent who leaned left. Even taking the entire Israeli electorate, the preference for the right was pronounced: 54 percent – 46 percent. To give an indication of how strong a result that is in Israel‘s traditionally fractured politics, it is larger than the 52 percent of the vote that Barack Obama won to become president. Even Kadima lost much support from an electorate moving rightwards and seems to have dropped only one seat because it won the vote of defectors from the left like Labor and Meretz, which dropped from 19 seats to 13 seats and from 5 seats to 3 seats, respectively.


“Under Israeli law, the President, Shimon Peres, has considerable discretion as to whom he first invites to form a government. Traditionally, the leader of the largest party receives that invitation, which would mean Kadima leader, Tzipi Livni. However, her left-of-center bloc, totaling only 44 seats, is insufficient for a majority. Accordingly, she would have to woo both Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu and Eli Yishai’s Shas party, which would give her a Knesset majority of 70. She could not afford to have anything less than both parties in the coalition in order to govern securely.


“This combination poses problems for her, although not necessarily insurmountable ones. Lieberman’s party is not only hawkish but aggressively secular and having both Yisrael Beiteinu and the orthodox Shas in the government would involve tensions and hard compromises that neither of the two might be willing to make. Moreover, Shas would demand considerable funding for its religious and educational institutions as the price of its support, something Livni was unwilling to pay for its inclusion when she tried to form a new coalition last year. That said, both parties have previously served in a Kadima-led government (Yisrael Beiteinu joined the Kadima government when it was already in power, following the 2006 Lebanon war) and the possibility certainly exists that they could do so again.


“The other possibilities are a Binyamin Netanyahu/Likud-led coalition, either of the right or a national unity government, or a Livni/Kadima-led national unity government. The last possibility seems very unlikely, given the weakness of the left-of-center bloc. The other two are more probable: Netanyahu campaigned leaning toward the center and spoke earlier today of the possibility a coalition with Kadima. Alternatively, a majority right-wing bloc is a possibility, providing Yisrael Beiteinu joins it. Lieberman stated while the votes were still being counted that he favors a government of the right.


“Whatever the eventual shape of the governing coalition, there is little doubt that these elections show that the Israeli electorate, as polls confirm – the latest of which we publicized earlier this week, along with the results of five earlier polls – opposes further unilateral withdrawals. It does not believe that signed agreements with the Palestinians will produce peace, for which reason Israelis also oppose major concessions to the Palestinians, even in return for such agreements.


“The policy of the unilateral withdrawals, which was at the heart of Kadima’s founding and 2006 election platform, is clearly not accepted by the Israeli electorate today. Nor is Kadima’s current policy of withdrawals negotiated with the Palestinian Authority. Even one-third of Kadima’s own supporters are opposed to creating a Palestinian state under current conditions. In this context, it is noteworthy that Labor and Meretz had their worst election results, Labor falling to an unprecedented fourth place. Labor leader Ehud Barak has already conceded, ‘Results oblige us to learn from our mistakes,’ while Meretz leader, Haim Oron, has openly said, ‘The left-wing was hit hard.’


“The experience of repeated efforts at peace-making since the Oslo Accords in 1993 has disproved the idea that a negotiated peace with the Palestinians can be achieved under current conditions. Even since the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000, Israel has tried negotiations, unilateral withdrawals and confidence building measures, to no effect. It has uprooted 10,000 Jews from their homes in order to evacuate territory. It has freed hundreds of unrepentant terrorists as good-will gestures. It has given arms and released revenues to the PA and permitted supplies into Gaza – yet has received only more rocket attacks, more terror and more insecurity.


“During the recent hostilities in Gaza, Israelis had to watch large demonstrations by Israeli Arabs, chanting ‘Death to the Jews’ and uttering slogans of support for Hamas. All this has been a factor in the strong showing of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, which has been the most vocal on the issue of Israeli Arab disloyalty to the state.


 “In short, bitter experience has made Israelis aware in ever greater numbers that a path of continued concessions will simply lead to more terror and disaster. The moral of this election is that Israelis are telling their leaders – no more one-sided concessions should even be considered to unreconstructed terror groups. If peace is to become a prospect, transformation of Palestinian society into a peaceable society that accepts Israel‘s existence as a Jewish state is a prerequisite for any further concessions.”


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