November 4, 2022

Israel’s Election

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday appeared set to return to power as head of Israel’s most right-wing government ever after winning this week’s national election… According to the unofficial final results, Netanyahu and his ultranationalist and ultra-Orthodox allies captured 64 seats in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset…

“Netanyahu’s main governing partner is expected to be Religious Zionism, a far-right party whose main candidate, Itamar Ben-Gvir has built a career on confrontations with Palestinians and espouses anti-Arab views that were once largely confined to an extremist fringe.” AP News

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From the Left

The left is alarmed by the rise of the far right, and urges Israel not to deny rights to non-Jews and other minorities.

Netanyahu’s allies “want the deportation of ‘disloyal’ Palestinian citizens of Israel and the annexation of the occupied West Bank… [Ben-Gvir] is an anti-Arab former follower of the banned Kach terrorist group, with a conviction for inciting racism. Until his 2019 Knesset run, he had a picture of Baruch Goldstein – who massacred 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron – in his living room. For years he was politically untouchable. Thanks to Mr Netanyahu, he now dominates the third-largest political force in Israel, and is expected to become a senior minister…

"This could mark a turning point for Israel’s democracy, and especially its judiciary, with grim and dramatic repercussions. The Religious Zionists and Likud share one key interest: to rein in the supreme court and other democratic safeguards, such as the attorney general’s power and independence. Mr Netanyahu wants his legal problems to vanish. Allowing the legislature to select supreme court justices and override the judiciary, so that unconstitutional laws can be passed, also opens the door to an extreme agenda of land grabs, changes to the rules of engagement for soldiers, and other abuses.”

Editorial Board, The Guardian

"Indeed, without overdramatizing matters, Netanyahu’s victory now introduces a cult of personalities – Netanyahu and Gvir – that will strengthen the forces of radical nationalism; populism and an us against them mentality dividing and polarizing the country. And if the Netanyahu government succeeds in restricting the powers of the Israel Supreme Court, imposing control over judicial appointments, deepening the grip of Jewish law over public life and reversing the court’s decision to strike down legislation aimed at legalizing West Bank settlements, Israeli democracy will be fundamentally undermined, reinforcing the forces of illiberalism, ethnocentrism and disrespect for the rule of law.”

Aaron David Miller, CNN

“The Israel of the future must turn away from the ugly face of Jewish supremacy that is ascendant today. This means that although Israel can and should remain a homeland for Jews, it must not be, as the 2019 Nation-State Law declared, exclusively so. It also must be a homeland for Palestinians who have lived in the land for centuries… In the meantime, we can no longer sugarcoat an unacceptable reality…

“Jews in this country, and particularly Jewish communal leaders, should refuse to meet with Israeli politicians who are unabashed racists. And we should no longer tolerate — or provide a blank check to — the illegal settlement project and the occupation that many observers have called an Israeli version of apartheid…

We cannot stand idly by when the state continues to deprive Palestinians of full rights nor when its leaders take aim at leftists, LGBTQ people and African asylum seekers — all in violation of the very ideals of ‘liberty, justice, and peace’ declared in Israel’s Proclamation of Independence.”

David N. Myers and Daniel Sokatch, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

The right praises Netanyahu’s accomplishments, but criticizes his close relationship with China.

The right praises Netanyahu’s accomplishments, but criticizes his close relationship with China.

“Netanyahu is perhaps the most successful free-world political leader of the past 30 years… Both as finance minister and as prime minister, [he] used free market and fiscally conservative policies to turn a lethargic economy into a near-miraculous exemplar of growth…

“Who would ever have guessed 30 years ago that Israel would have either formal accords or de facto cooperation with so many Arab or Muslim states, including Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Bahrain, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia? Netanyahu is largely responsible for all but Egypt and Jordan in that group, and he certainly strengthened (even if not originally forged) the cooperation with the latter. Israel itself is more secure than ever in its 75-year modern history, and the entire region is more stable.”

Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner

“Mr. Netanyahu is still considered the Israeli leader best able to deal with great powers. With Russian troops in Syria, the poisoned chalice of Chinese economic engagement and an America that is hot and cold, Israel needs a strategic vision. Mr. Netanyahu has one… whereby economic and military strength lead to diplomatic success, not the other way around. The Abraham Accords with the Gulf Arabs are a vindication of that vision…

“The rise of the Religious Zionists, on pace for 10% of the vote, is unsettling; its extreme ideas make it a Jewish counterpart to some Arab-Israeli parties. Yet the outraged international press may be over-reading the result: The slate’s radical Otzma Yehudit Party attracts only around 5% of the vote, and many of its new voters disclaim its worst ideas but like its punchy Mizrahi leader, who presented a moderate face. Ninety per cent of voters didn’t choose the far right, which is more than can be said for many European countries.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“Netanyahu's traditional friendly approach to Vladimir Putin has its justifying nuances. Although it's frustrating to many in the West, Israeli caution against providing greater military support to Ukraine, something Netanyahu is likely to continue, is understandable. Israel has a critical national security interest in maintaining influence with Russia with regard to its Syrian military presence and associated leverage over Bashar Assad's regime and Iranian/aligned terrorist actors…

“Netanyahu has no such excuses on China. Israeli trade interests cannot come at the expense of America's preeminent national security concerns. Unfortunately, via his enabling of high-technology transfers and Chinese access to Israel's critical infrastructure, Netanyahu's record on China has been plainly detrimental to the U.S. At times, Netanyahu's service of Chinese interests has been gratuitous. Take, for example, his 2017 call for Xi to take a greater role in international affairs…

“If Netanyahu fails to address life-or-death U.S. concerns over China, his government must face serious consequences.”

Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

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