Netanyahu Does Even Worse Than Expected at the Polls, Wins Third Term

a79bnetanyahuvoting Netanyahu Does Even Worse Than Expected at the Polls, Wins Third Term

The Israeli prime
minister Benjamin Netanyahu eked out a win at the polls today, but
his right-wing Likud-Yisrael coalition was projected
by the Jerusalem Post to have won only 29 seats. The two
parties won 42 seats between them last time around, running
separately in 2009. The leader of the Yisrael party, Avigdor
Lieberman,
resigned last month after being indicted on corruption charges.
Sixty one seats are needed to control the Knesset, and Netanyahu is
expected to be able to form a government. The Jersualem
Post’s projections show the possibility of a center-left
coalition, with three seats still being disputed between the
centrist Kadima and the nationalist Strong Israel.
Most surprising was the capture of up to 19 seats by the newly
formed center/center-left Yesh Atid, to whom Netanyahu reached out
before making his victory speech.While the Jerusalem Post characterized
the incoming results as “a clear shift away from the Right,”
Shibley Tahami, the Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development
at Maryland-College Park and a fellow at the Brookings Institution
saw something different.
Writing for Reuters:A victory in Tuesday’s Israeli elections by Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Yisrael Beiteinu
alliance and the ascent of even more extreme parties are
indications of Israelis’ continued move to the right.It is also an indication of the limits and the challenges faced by
the Obama administration in its relationship with Israel. Despite
Netanyahu’s obvious preference for President Barack Obama’s
Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in the U.S. presidential
elections — and a sense that he was intervening through proxies —
Obama’s ability to influence the outcome of the Israeli elections
has been negligible.According to Tahami any tensions between Obama and
Netanyahu may be irrelevant to broader U.S.-Israeli relations:In a poll I
conducted in Israel with the Program for International
Policy Attitudes after the U.S. presidential elections, fielded by
Israel’s Dahaf Institute, most Israelis said they believed the
tension between Netanyahu and Obama would not affect the
U.S.-Israeli relationship.Sixty percent of Israelis said “the personal relationship” between
Obama and Netanyahu would “not make much difference” to American
support for Israel, and those who predict that the relationship
will increase support (23 percent) substantially outweighed those
who said it would diminish support (11 percent). This was so
despite the fact that 6 in 10 Israelis felt that Netanyahu
supported Obama’s opponent in the November elections.Al-Jazeera,
meanwhile, saw a “subdued mood” in the wake of Netanyahu’s
victory:The mood was subdued at Netanyahu’s Likud party
election headquarters after the polls closed, with only a few
hundred supporters in a venue that could house
thousands.Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington
DC, commented on the tense relationship between US
President Barack Obama and Netanyahu.”Officially in the US they are not really weighing in yet,” she
said, regarding Netanyahu’s victory. “Behind the scenes, we know
[President Barack] Obama and Netanyahu do not get along.”President Barack Obama has faded the idea of the Palestinian peace
process, as he doesn’t believe Netanyahu wants peace,” she
said.Deteriorating relations with the Palestinians was a top priority
for only 16 percent of voters (mainly right-wing) and the Iranian
threat for only 12 percent of voters (mainly left-wing), according
to a poll taken by the Times of Israel
earlier this month. 43 percent chose the economy. In his
victory speech tonight, Netanyahu said his primary challenge was

preventing a nuclear Iran, something most Israelis want their
country
to cooperate with the U.S. on. 

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Netanyahu Does Even Worse Than Expected at the Polls, Wins Third Term

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