Jan 24 2013

Netanyahu Scrapes By Win in Israel Elections As Activists Continue to Work Outside Electoral System

Incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged as the winner in Israeli elections this week. Israelis went to the polls on Tuesday morning in an election that, despite high turnout, was considered fairly lackluster. Having reduced the number of seats his Likud Beiteinu party won in the Knesset or Israeli parliament, Netanyahu will have to build coalitions with smaller parties.

Also emerging as unexpected winners in the election were two parties, Yesh Atid, which translates as “There is a Future” and is considered a centrist party and won the second highest number of seats. And the right wing “Jewish Home Party,” headed by the Jewish nationalist Naftali Bennett. Netanyahu’s party will likely have to form a coalition with Yesh Atid in order to form a new government.

The Jewish Israeli electorate is seen as moving more to the right over the years, with youth in particular, more likely to vote for right wing leaders. Turnout among the Arab Israeli population was historically low, reflecting a disenchantment with Arab representatives in the Knesset.

Netanyahu, who in the days leading up to the election, played up his political tussles with US President Barack Obama, gambled that the move may energize a more rightwing electorate. Brief controversies were generated when anonymous White House sources leaked that President Obama claimed Israel “doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”

This election was the first time in a long time that US-Israel relations were not central, and that national security and the peace process with Palestinians was not a major focus. Instead polls showed Israelis more interested in economic justice issues.

GUEST: Dalit Baum, co-founder of Who Profits from the Occupation, an activist research initiative of the Coalition of Women for Peace in Israel. She is also the Middle East Program Director for American Friends Service Committee, working out of San Francisco

Dalit will be speaking at UCLA this evening at 6:30 pm at Broad 2160e at an event called Queering Solidarity: Feminism and Queer Activism for Justice in Palestine

For more information about Dalit Baum’s work, visit the following websites:





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