A recent poll of Israeli voters’ preferences for the April 9 elections shows the once-dominant Labor party getting only six Knesset seats (out of 120). But the newly formed Israel Resilience party, led by the former IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz, could emerge as a serious contender against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud, especially if it can draw in other centrist parties. Noting that such polls, while of questionable predictive value, can often shape voters’ perceptions and intentions, David Horovitz tries to make sense of Israel’s potential apparent political realignment:
The dismal poll showings of Labor and [the far-left] Meretz underline the collapse of the left as this election campaign gets going in earnest. Labor, [under its new leader Avi Gabbay], does not claim that peace is there to be made if only Israel would stretch out a warmer hand than Netanyahu’s. So if Labor doesn’t believe it can make peace, plenty of former Labor voters are apparently concluding, who needs it? . . .
While Israeli political infighting is vicious, ideological differences have narrowed. Everybody would love peace; very few people believe it is attainable. This is not 1999, when then-incumbent Prime Minister Netanyahu told Israelis there was no chance of a historic accord with the Palestinians, and [the Labor leader] Ehud Barak ousted him because he convinced enough voters—wrongly, as it turned out—that there was [such a chance].
Ultimately, this election is unlikely to be a battle over left and right—no matter how hard Likud tries to make it so by depicting Gantz as a weak man of the left. It will rather be a choice of personalities—between a vastly experienced prime minister, widely respected for having protected Israel from without, and a neophyte ex-army chief arguing that this same prime minister is tearing Israel apart from within. Or between an incumbent who warns of a bleak future without him in a treacherous region, and a contender promising that, for all the very real threats, things can be a great deal better.