Despite headlines to the contrary, the results of Tuesday’s elections were not really a big surprise. The right-wing bloc has traditionally made a bigger showing at the polls than the leftist camp. But this fact of life is typically overlooked, and all but ignored abroad.
The final results have the Right (including the ultra-Orthodox parties) sitting at 57 out of 120 Knesset seats: Likud 30, Jewish Home 8, Shas 7, Israel Beiteinu 6 and United Torah Judaism 6. Two years ago, in the 2013 elections, these same five parties garnered a combined 61 seats, four more than they won this time around.
Meanwhile, the leftist parties now have a total of 40 mandates: Labor (Zionist Union) 24, Yesh Atid 11 and Meretz 5. These three factions combined won six less seats than in 2013.
Even if one were to count the outside support of the Joint Arab List and its 13 seats, the Left still remains smaller than the right-wing bloc.
The message is clear: a firm majority of Israel’s Jewish population does not accept the agenda or policies of the Left, in particular the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Israelis have had their fill of making fruitless concessions to the Palestinians, and are now focused on their own security.
This is unacceptable to the West and the Palestinian Authority. “Israel has chosen occupation,” declared Palestinian media. Senior Palestinian Authority advisor Jibril Rajoub said the elections had demonstrated that “Israel is a fascist and racist people.”
Many Western leaders seemed to express similar sentiments, though in a far more subtle manner.
The final push for Netanyahu and the Right came in the final week before the elections. It suddenly became clear that without some aggressive campaigning aimed at waking the Right from its slumber, the Left could score a majority.
Controversially, Netanyahu also raised a red flag over the massive Arab voter turnout just hours before the polls closed, urging right-wing voters to cast their ballots.
“Although many right-wing voters have little love for Netanyahu, they fear much more a left-wing government,” said Yair Ravivo, mayor of the central Israel city of Lod.
In the end, Netanyahu was elected democratically because his policies represent a majority in Israel. His distrust of the Palestinians and their intentions and concerns for Israel’s security have been validated by the majority.
Like it or not, the international community must come to terms with this.