Israel’s 19th governing coalition collapsed this week after less than two years in office. It included two right-of-center parties totaling 43 seats (the Knesset has 120) and two ostensibly “centrist” (actually leftist) parties totaling 25.
In recent weeks the respective leaders of the two leftist parties, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni, had been staging a palace revolt. They lashed out at the government and its leader, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in ways only befitting a vituperative opposition. Lapid, the finance minister, refused to implement government policy and insisted on his own misguided, destructive plans.
It left the exasperated Netanyahu with no choice but to fire these two and, in effect, dissolve the government. New elections have been set for March 17.
Meanwhile three polls (summarized at the end of this analysis by Times of Israel editor David Horovitz) have indicated that, since the previous elections in January 2013, a lot has changed in Israel.
It was those elections’ right-leaning but equivocal results that gave rise to the dubious, rickety coalition that fell this week. But now all three polls tell the same story: the right will do much better in the new elections and be able to form a coalition without the “center” (or left), possibly with the ballast of ultra-Orthodox parties that are also right-leaning politically.
Back in January 2013 things looked relatively quiet to Israelis. Successful terror attacks were down to very low levels. The November 2012 Gaza war had lasted only eight days with very few Israeli casualties. Iran was still under tough sanctions, creating hopes—illusions—that the West was serious about stopping its march to the bomb.
What a difference—at least, in perceptions—two years make.
While Israel won the 2014 Gaza war decisively, it had most of the country scurrying to bomb shelters for seven weeks and cost Israel 64 soldiers’ and seven civilians’ lives. In its aftermath, a wave of Palestinian terror attacks that started in September has killed 12.
And while the overall regional situation hardly looked calming in January 2013, it looks quite alarming now with the rise of ISIS and raging terror and war, while the West pursues an obviously, no longer deniably feckless policy toward Iran where talks keep getting extended for their own sake even as Iran treats an international inspections agency with obvious contempt.
But those aren’t the only sorts of aggressions and threats Israel has been subject to.
Israelis are well aware that the Obama administration has stooped low enough to call the Israeli prime minister scurrilous names that are reserved solely for the leader of the Jewish state—amid subtle threats, and rumors, that the U.S. will refrain from vetoing a Palestinian-instigated UN Security Council resolution demanding Israeli withdrawal to indefensible borders.
And then there’s Europe, increasingly a cheerleading troupe for Palestinian terror as the French, Spanish, British, Irish, and Swedish parliaments have in recent months voted to “recognize” a nonexistent Palestinian state even as Israelis are subjected to Palestinian car-ramming, stabbing, and shooting attacks including an outright massacre in a synagogue.
Israelis, in other words, see a more dangerous environment and so—if the polls are right—will opt for a more hawkish leadership. Seemingly nothing could be more simple and humanly understandable. Except that in Israel’s case understanding can be hard to come by.
In the above-linked article, the Times of Israel’s David Horovitz says that a more hawkish Israel in 2015 would find itself in a frontal clash with much of the world:
BDS [boycott, divestment, and sanctions] campaigning against Israel would intensify. Unilateral recognition of a Palestine not at peace with Israel would gather yet more momentum. International empathy for Israel if, or more likely when, it next comes under attack by Hamas from Gaza or Hezbollah from southern Lebanon would be in still shorter supply.
Horovitz could be right, although, with a very sympathetic Congress taking office in January, it may not be as bad as all that. And Israelis may see such consequences as a price to be lived with for defending themselves.