Israel’s Latest Election Could Realign Its Politics

Israel’s Latest Election Could Realign Its Politics
A woman passes Likud party campaign posters for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the city of Sderot, Israel, March 19, 2021 (AP photo by Tsafrir Abayov).

TEL AVIV, Israel—As the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history, Benjamin Netanyahu has dominated the country’s politics for over a decade. Despite his ongoing trial on corruption charges, he made a bid for yet another term in last month’s elections. He did not succeed, but neither did any of his rivals, resulting in what the Israeli mainstream media are calling the “imbroglio.”

It is the same logjam that triggered the vote: Neither the pro- nor the anti-Netanyahu bloc secured the parliamentary majority needed to form a stable governing coalition. The election also did little to alter Israel’s rightward trajectory on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Voter turnout was the lowest since 2009, at just over 67 percent, reflecting Israelis’ fatigue with two years of political gridlock. Nonetheless, the March 23 election was not quite a status quo vote: It carved new fissures that cut across Israel’s traditional ideological lines and could reshape the political landscape down the road.

In many respects, the inconclusive results of this election—the fourth in two years—mirrored the last three. The main dividing line for politicians is still Netanyahu. His opponents appear determined to end his tenure, but they have met their match in the prime minister himself, who is equally resolved to hold on to power.

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