Dear Friends of Israel,
Although no major surprises were expected in Israel’s recent parliamentary elections, there actually turned out to be a few. Essentially, the distribution between the right and left is practically unchanged, now standing at 61 to 59 in favor of the right. Thanks to the merging of the Likud and Israel-Beitenu parties, the party of Benjamin Netanyahu came out strongest overall. They will still build the coalition government, although they must deal with some loss of votes. The Kadima party, which was the strongest in the last parliament, only hung onto two seats in the new parliament. The sudden rise and fall of political parties has become common in Israel, showing that a relatively large portion of the population is dissatisfied with traditional parties and seeks a change.
The biggest winner was the young, dynamic Yair Lapid and his new party, Yesch Atid (There is a Future). They took 19 seats on this, their first attempt, thus becoming the second-strongest party in parliament. Lapid was previously a journalist who recently declared, “I’d never go into politics, like my father did.” His father was likewise a journalist who later went into politics, but his party disappeared before it ever accomplished anything. His primary goal at that time was to eliminate the priveleges of the religious Jews. In spite of his reservations against a political calling, his son is now in politics and has similar goals as his father, but has the advantage of being able to learn from his father’s mistakes.
Another young, dynamic politician who has risen in Israel’s political landscape is Naftali Bennett, the new chairman of the ultra-national Beit Hajehudi (The Jewish House) party, which gained several votes under his leadership and now has 12 seats. Their political views should make them a natural coalition partner with the Likud party and Netanyahu, but personal differences could cloud the relationship. In contrast, the personal friendship between Bennett and Lapid could lead to a partnership in spite of their political differences. They both seek greater social justice and more even-handed sharing of the burdens, which means, among other things, that they believe the religious Jews shouldn’t simply be excused from military service to study the Torah and even receive financial assistance on top of it. Furthermore, they believe that more religious Jews should be employed at regular jobs. These high-profile similarities might make the two allies, although there are points between them over which they disagree. Bennett’s party is predominantly a religious party, though one in which the members also serve in the military. There’s no doubt that these two politicians will continue to be a force in Israel’s future politics, particularly because they belong to the upcoming generation.
Against the expectations, it will not be an easy task for Netanyahu to build a coalition government, with which he can more easily govern than previously. In spite of it all, there’s still hope that everything will work out for Israel, presuming the necessary changes can be realized, the security of the nation guaranteed and an agreement of sorts can be made with the palestinians (although that wasn’t directly a topic in the elections).
In the assurance that God has the final word, even in political decisions,