Israel’s Political Deadlock Is as Much a Symptom of Consensus as of Division

September 26, 2019 | Jonathan Tobin
About the author:

In the U.S., Israeli politics are generally seen through the prism of the conflict with the Palestinians. While this issue has indeed defined the Jewish state’s domestic politics for decades, the results of the recent election suggest such disagreements animate only the political fringes; for most Israelis, a consensus has emerged. The failed negotiations between the leaders of the two major parties over forming a unity government, writes Jonathan Tobin, are in fact evidence of this consensus:

[T]he main obstacle to a unity government is the question of how offices are to be divided, rather than policies. . . . Israelis are no longer fundamentally divided on questions of war and peace. The ideological gap between the two leading parties has narrowed to the point where the differences between them are minimal. That was made clear when the reaction of Blue and White to Netanyahu’s pre-election declaration that he would annex the Jordan Valley and never abandon settlements—a statement that angered liberal American Jews—was not outrage but a claim that he was trying to steal their platform.

Likud, and Blue and White, are part of a national consensus that there is no Palestinian peace partner, and that further territorial concessions would only be possible in a theoretical future when this was no longer the case.

If so, that reflects how Netanyahu’s worldview has not merely prevailed, but has essentially marginalized the views of his left-wing opponents. In a stroke of bitter irony for the prime minister, it’s also bad news for him since his claim to be the only person who can be trusted with Israel’s security would also be undermined.

Read more on JNS:

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now