Baku, Azerbaijan, June 11
By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:
Perhaps no other country does have such thrilling election campaign as Israel.
Where is the main division in Israeli society with regard to voting for the Knesset and the formation of the government?
In most cases it used to be the traditional opposition between the left and the right in their attitude to the peace process.
The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel and the Golan Heights by US, sprawling of new settlements and promises to annex Judea and Samaria – all that makes a lot of Israeli voters to vote for Likud and Netanyahu, especially given that at the moment there is a strong American support: the U.S. Ambassador in Jerusalem, David Friedman said on Saturday that Israel “has the right to annex at least part of the West Bank”.
However, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu right-wing party Avigdor Lieberman reminded everyone of another fault line – ultra-Orthodox vs. seculars.
Ultra-Orthodox, constituting a tenth of the Israeli population, however, represent a cohesive force seeking to establish a “state of Halacha” - the Jewish equivalent of the Muslim Sharia law.
DNA tests to determine the authenticity of Jewish origin, the gender-based segregation in public places – these are recent requirements put forward by ultra-Orthodox. Most Israelis, both secular and moderately religious, oppose the “Jewish Sharia”.
“I urge the silent majority not to sit and watch, but to come to vote on Election Day. Then we will be able to dictate who will be the Prime Minister,” Lieberman said. “We will support a moderate right-wing government, not an ultra-Orthodox one.”
Lieberman expects that his party will receive 17 seats in the upcoming elections. If that happens, his party could be the third largest in the Knesset. As he has clearly said, he (again) will not support the Likud – ultra-Orthodox coalition.
At the same time, Lieberman continues to remain on the right positions. He has recently said that he does not intend to support the second largest alliance of centrists “Blue and White”.
What is expected in September? No one undertakes to foresee the outcome. Two well-known Israeli experts in a telephone conversation did not dare to answer the question, even despite my request to give at least intuitive forecast.
“Unsinkable” Bibi reflexively is still the main candidate for the Premiership. Theoretically, he could count on the Premiership by creating a coalition without ultra-Orthodox and coming to terms with Lieberman, whose supporters, according to forecasts, are expected to grow significantly.
However, yesterday the Israeli media reported exactly the opposite - that Netanyahu's campaign office intends to take away the “Russian” votes from Lieberman (the basis of Lieberman’s party are Russian-speaking Israelis), and that Likud is allocating millions of shekels for this campaign.
Meanwhile, there is another critical factor that may affect the election campaign and the voting results.
This is a trail with an unpleasant smell, which the Israeli Prime Minister has left in connection with corruption investigations. Netanyahu was trying to avoid the threat of criminal prosecution by amending the law on parliamentary immunity and the law on overcoming the veto of the Supreme Court of Israel. He is still trying to postpone hearing before the court, where he will have to answer the charges against him, but this only strengthens the suspicions of the electorate.
Many parties and politicians will think twice before going into alliance or forming a coalition with Mr. Netanyahu. No one wishes to deal with a tarnished politician and a political corpse if the charges are confirmed.
While the right-wing frenemies Netanyahu and Lieberman are sorting things out, the big tent “Blue and White” has another good chance to win the election.
Shortly before the Knesset elections in April, a survey on “Socio-economic problems and 2019 elections” was conducted with participation of 2119 respondents.
One of the questions was: “Do you agree with the opinion that it is time to vote for a party that puts the solution of socio-economic problems at the forefront?” 55 percent answered in the affirmative. And only 24 percent disagreed.
Most of the items of the “Blue and White” electoral program cover just socio-economic issues.