Bibi has secured his fortress. Now, which coalition strategy?

After 99.5% of votes have been counted, Likud party results the winner of this 2015 Israeli election. Now Mr. Netanyahu has to consider his choices to form a coalition government.

netanyahu electionsProbably thanks to the last minute electoral campaign tool – Chuck Norris’s call to the electorate – after 99.5% votes counted, Netanyahu’s Likud party has obtained 30 seats of the Knesset.

Bibi has secured its hard rightward shift, by playing up fears on the spread of radical Islam and raising alarm over the growing support for Arab Israeli. Therefore, yesterday a video of him making a heartfelt appeal towards his loyal rightist electorate appeared on his Facebook page: it was necessary to go to ballot to contrast the mass of Arab people invading the polls. This – overstated – declaration also contributed to seal his advantage in the ballot box, since several Israeli answered his call.

Now that Netanyahu has crashed the Zionist Union, he will most likely form a coalition with other right wing and religious parties. Therefore, by summing up the number of seats obtained by the parties, politically and ideologically close to Likud, 57 turns out to be the result, while the number required to form a government is 61. As it gathers from the down prospectus, 30 seats of the Likud party, plus 8 by Habayit Hayehud plus 7 by Shas, plus 6 by Yisrael Beiteinu, plus 6 by the United Torah Judaism, result in 57 seats out of 120 of the Knesset. Moshe Khalon’s Kulanu could reveal himself as the “kingmaker” of the election, since it gained 10 seats and can deeply influence the achievement of a majority government.

Although in a 2009 speech, Netanyahu pushed for the peace negotiations to begin, six years later, this Monday, he stated that no Palestinian state will ever exist, if he would be elected. Likud party’s electoral programme primarily defends the State of Israel’s security, and according to its leader, establishing a Palestinian state and evacuating the territories – as illegally occupied – beyond the green line, would mean to deliver the land on the hands of Islamic radicals. Equally, Naftali Bennet, chairman of The Jewish Home, the extreme rightist nationalist and pro-settlements party, had already declared that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “insoluble” and that no Palestinian state would ever exist in the tiny land of Israel. On the other hand, he continues to defend his project of annexation of great part of the West Bank.

On the other side of the arena, the centre-leftist coalition of the Zionist Union (24 seats), the Joint List of Arab Parties (14 seats) and Yesh Atid (11 seats) have obtained a significant result. Herzog himself, after having congratulated with Netanyahu for the results obtained, affirmed that “Nothing has changed, we will keep fighting for a just society.” Today, the Arab coalition is the third biggest force in the Knesset and it can give a substantial contribution in working as the opposition. Consequently, the Arab Israeli found themselves with a formal representation, which took the shape of the Joint List of Arab Parties.

Therefore, “everything is still open”. Although the numbers back Netanyahu’s side, the game of the coalition building is still difficult to be predicted. Indeed, the combination of an electoral system based on proportional representation and the high number of competitive parties, forces the latters to build coalitions to secure themselves a bigger majority and a secure administration. As outlined before, the smaller parties’ results favor Likud, but despite this advantage, two elements should not be forgotten: first, the role played by Moshe Kahlon; secondly the blocking maneuver by the Arab parties. From a closer point of view, since in the Israeli system, the country’s president will have to give someone the right to form a coalition first, and each party has the chance to recommend a candidate for prime minister, the Arab parties could sabotage Bibi’s appointment, by endorsing Herzog. Then, which will be parties’ maneuvers? Which will be the coalition building strategy? And which alternative to “No Palestinian State” will Mr. Security outline? Let time to run its course.

Giulia Formichetti

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