A major event happened in Israel on Tuesday, on more than one level. Extraordinary elections with record results for the twenty-fifth Knesset since the establishment of Israel. The biggest title was the “victorious” return of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, twelve years without a break. Returning after an absence of only sixteen months.
The biggest title is perhaps the formation of the most right-wing Israeli government since the establishment of the state. This is not a political “coincidence” in light of the highest participation in the polls since 1999. The turnout rate, according to the Central Elections Committee in Israel, which is an independent body, was 57.7%. The thirty-seventh government in the history of Israel will be an alliance that brings together Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, with two right-wing parties led by the religious Zionists, with an opportunity for expansion that does not go beyond the right-wing fan so that neither the Arab left’s participation nor the Israeli left, which suffered a heavy defeat, is forced upon it. The center-left Meretz has been outside the Knesset for the first time since 1993. It is accused of being the most left-wing in terms of settling the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and therefore the loss was inevitable, especially with the rise of the right.
Netanyahu has a comfortable majority of 64 or 65 votes, but the pressures he may face with the first test will be from partisan “kin” of the political and religious right. Supporters and opponents of Netanyahu, both internally and externally, know that the biggest winner in this fifth election since 2019 is the leader of the religious Zionism coalition Itamar Ben Gvir, accused by Arab Israelis of racism, and from a not small segment of the Israelis accused of religious extremism and political extremism. His party and the Haredi (orthodox Jews) in general increased their number of seats from fifteen to nineteen, a political victory that even Likud did not enjoy in terms of performance.
Many exams are expected from Netanyahu’s strongest partner within the right-wing family. I start with the small, which seems to be the consensus. Addressing organized crime in the Arab-Israeli sector. An agreed slogan, but within conflicting visions, some of them went to the point of adopting a conspiracy theory! “Suppression” of drug and arms smuggling gangs, for example, may take cover for political security repression that pushes the isolation and deportation of Israeli Arabs to Gaza or neighboring countries, as Ben Gvir wants instead of activating their participation in political life. About 55% of Israeli Arabs did not vote in these elections, despite the remarkable success that was relatively successful under the governments of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.
As for the most dangerous exams, they are political security that many, on both sides of the Arab and Israeli sides, view as “existential”: damage to the status quo “States Co” in Jerusalem and the annexation of the Jordan Valley.
With the horizontal and vertical fragmentation of the Ramallah and Gaza authorities – no one was convinced of Algeria’s recent reconciliation, compared to the failure of several reconciliations preceded by the most important of which was the reconciliation sponsored by Saudi Arabia in Mecca between Fatah and Hamas in 2007. The fear of the outbreak of a third intifada exists, whether it was the result of a “lack of political horizon.” Jordan’s King Abdullah II Ibn Al-Hussein has repeatedly warned, or a prelude to a “creative” chaos that is intended to create a security vacuum in the West Bank or Gaza Strip, with all its red lines and security concerns, including forced displacement, “transfer,” which is considered a security issue. National and a “thickened” red line for Egypt and Jordan.
It is certain that Netanyahu is currently paying more attention to the Iran file – whose regime may collapse, as US President Joe Biden hoped two days ago. Netanyahu has a great deal of credit in the Ibrahim agreements, and has his eye on the return – not excluded – of former US President Donald Trump, who gave him what he and the Israeli right could not have dreamed of: recognizing Jerusalem as the “unified and eternal capital” of Israel and recognizing the annexation of the Golan.
Difficult days await many parties, and Netanyahu will not be immune to unprecedented pressures, both internally and externally.. Once again, the winner is the one who has a farther outlook and a longer breath.