Israel election: Netanyahu does it again

Israel election: Netanyahu does it again

Israel's parliamentary voting has ended more or less in line with the pre-election forecasts. The rightwing Likud-Yisrael Beitenu bloc is still on top and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no doubts that he will form and lead the government for the third time. No matter who will comprise a new cabinet, it will face the unresolved problems of Palestine, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iranian nukes.

The Likud-Yisrael Beitenu alliance has gained 31 of parliament's 120 seats. Surprises came with the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party headed by political newcomer Yair Lapid. The party grabbed 19 seats. The third place is taken by Shelly Yachimovich’s Avoda party with 15 seats.

Now the rightwing and center-left rivals have a parity snatching 60 seats so Israel’s President Shimon Peres is to decide on who will form the government. However, it may take a long time as the centrist Yesh Atid hasn’t made its political choice yet.

The newcomers could possible join a coalition with Likud-Beitenu, Israeli political analyst Alex Kogan told the VoR.

"For the first time in decades Israel may see a coalition of forces from both camps without religious parties. This could greatly affect the situation in the country."

A new cabinet will see lots of challenges as parties have dramatically different views on a number of burning issues.

Nikolay Surkov, assistant professor at the Russian Institute of International Relations, hopes for Tzipi Livni, Israel’s former foreign minister and the head of the Movement party, who advocates territorial talks with the Palestinians but the hope is shattered by Netanyahu’s settlement activity in East Jerusalem. A stop to the construction on the disputed territories is the major condition to resume the talks.

Israel is also concerned with Iranian nukes as Tehran doesn’t miss a single chance to support anti-Israeli factions worldwide.

Israel and its major ally the US are also seeing a certain cooling of relations, says Alex Kogan. Israel fails to understand the US stance on the Arab Spring welcomed by Washington as the rule of democracy but later leading to a powerful Islamist Egypt controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.

At the same, the analyst has praised Russian-Israeli relations, saying that this positive trend will continue especially amid difficulties with the US.

Netanyahu is very likely to head the government again but he shouldn’t be envied as nobody knows what Israel will see in the next six months.

So we’ll better tell him “shalom” which in Hebrew means – may peace be with you.