UPDATE 7 pm Israel time Thursday:
Molotov cocktails thrown at Rachel’s Tomb again, “rocks” assault Israeli school bus near Efrat again, spikes rip up tires on the road near Abu Deir Meshal forcing Israeli motorists to become sitting ducks for Palestinian terrorists–such have been some of the incidents in Judea and Samaria during the last 12 hours. There have been no physical injuries reported, but incalculable traumatic stress has been caused.
The IDF released its “2012 Report on Palestinian Terrorism” this morning. There were 282 attacks in Jerusalem (compared to 191 in 2011), and 578 attacks in Judea and Samaria (compared to 191 in 2011). The most dramatic increase in “type of attack” was that of Molotov cocktails–which increased by 68%.
The 269,519 soldiers’ votes and others in “double envelopes” have been counted, and there has been a small, but highly important change. Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party has picked up one more seat bringing its number to 12*. This means that the right block of Likud Beiteinu, Jewish Home, Shas, and United Torah Judaism now has 61 seats.
The final line-up is below at the bottom of this blog.
But will this be the coalition? Simply put, what is going to happen to the religious parties Shas and United Torah Judasim? Will Netanyahu toss out his long-time allies in favor of Lapid and his 19 seats?
It is important to note that Lapid’s main campaign theme was “equal service”–everyone must be drafted into the IDF or some form of national service. For this reason, Lapid does not want to be in a government with Shas and United Torah Judaism–both of whom want exemptions from the army for yeshiva students. Lapid also wants to reduce subsidies for religious families in order to encourage them to work–again, Shas and United Torah Judaism are fighting fiercely for every penny.
More than all of this, Lapid’s negotiating team is apparently demanding other items this morning: a start to negotiations with the Palestinians in three months, a senior position such as Foreign Minister in the cabinet, and . . . and . . . and.
Your humble servant would like to offer two observations this morning:
1. There has been an abundance of international reportage that election results purporting to show that the Israeli public has swung dramatically to the center left. Nothing is further from the truth. If anything, the Israeli public has continued its dramatic move to the “right”.
First, consider that the division of blocks is virtually the same as it was after the 2009 election. And recall that in that election that Likud came in 2nd place to the center-leftist Kadima–and so it has stayed for the last 4 years.
All that has happened is that Kadima’s seats have been taken by Lapid and Livni—and Lapid, while being in the center on social issues (click here for an interesting article about the rightward turn of Israelis), is much farther to the right than Kadima on security issues. Lapid has said repeatedly and pragmatically that he does not want a peace with the Palestinians, he wants a divorce. He also has repeatedly announced that he is not in favor of giving up any more land in Judea and Samaria.
As a Palestinian spokesman lamented yesterday, Lapid represents a segment of the Israeli population that simply doesn’t care about the Palestinians.
2. Benjamin Netanyahu has missed a golden opportunity to expand Likud Beiteinu and the right block even more–perhaps by as much as 10 seats.
Netanyahu’s campaign was a litany of disaster:
*It was a ludicrous decision to combine Likud with Yisrael Beiteinu. Not only was an important party on the right eliminated, but also the Likud “back benchers” were alienated. All of the Likud Knesset members who were down at the bottom of the Likud list were unceremoniously dumped, and these people were the heart and soul of the party–the people who were able to mobilize voters.
*It was a ludicrous decision to not even publish a Likud Beiteinu platform about social issues. Every poll showed that the public was less concerned about Iran and security than it was about taxes and equality. Yet Netanyahu’s campaign was only Netanyahu: “Vote Netanyahu: A Strong Leader for a Strong Israel”. Netanyahu seemed completely out of touch.
*Finally, it was a ludicrous decision to spend all of the campaign’s time and resources attacking Jewish Home and Power Israel–to the complete exclusion of Lapid and Yachimovich. In the end, it may been Netanyahu’s compaign against Bennett that caused undecided voters to vote for Lapid.
So now there is nothing to do but wait and see how it all plays out. Shimon Peres has just announced that he will be meeting with all parties on Wednesday in order to decide who to ask to form the next coalition.
Here is the final line-up (apparently):
Likud Beiteinu: 31
Lapid’s Torch for the Future: 19
Jewish Home: 12
United Torah Judaism: 7
Tzipi Livni: 6
Arab Parties: 11 (United Arab List 4, Hadash 4, Balad 3)
The 12th person on the Jewish Home list–whom the IDF soldiers put into the Knesset with their vote–is Shuli Mualem. Her husband, Moshe, was killed in the tragic 1997 IDF helicopter disaster.
Mualem has since remarried, but she has dedicated her life to the IDF Widows and Orphans organization (currently she is the Deputy Chair), and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Education School which she directs.
She has nine children and lives in Gush Etzion.
She is a remarkable human being.
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