March 23rd, 2015

Quaero togam pacem.

Hawk rising

Israel is going to have more of the same for the next 4 yaers, it seems: from deep freezing of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians, to a hard stance on the ongoing tedious negotiations about Iran's nuclear program, to additional tensions with Obama's administration and the EU.

Rather than turning a new page (as most forecasts suggested), the Israeli voters handed another victory to Likud, the center-right (and now, right-wing-leaning) party of Bibi Netan-yahoo. That came as a surprise to most analysts, given the polls which seemed to suggest a stalemate with the main opposition party, the center-left Zionist Union. In the days before the vote, Likud was trailing on #2 in the polls. But Bibi sharply hardened his tone in the final week, and managed to mobilize the votes of the ultranationalist far-right. And now his supporters will be expecting him to fulfill his categorical election promises.

The snap election was called at the end of last year, because Netanyahu wanted to form a more stable government after some tensions with some key partners in the center-right coalition had emerged. Now the final results give 30 out of 120 seats to Likud, and 24 to the ZU. On the 3rd place (14 seats) comes a morass of parties dominated by the Israeli Arabs, who are united for the first time. All of this gives Netanyahu a mandate to form a center-right coalition government, but first he'll have to collect 61 seats to form a majority. He's about to chair a cabinet for the 4th time, and become the longest-serving Israeli PM.

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