Benjamin Netanyahu Didn’t Lose Israel’s Elections, and Democracy Won

While the final tallies of Monday’s votes are not yet in, it appears that, unlike in the previous two elections, the Likud party outperformed its main rival, Blue and White, by four Knesset seats. Yet the results remain ambiguous, as the prime minister will need and does not yet appear to have the 61 Knesset seats it will take to form a governing coalition. Nevertheless, Ruthie Blum notes that some things are unequivocal about the election results:

[V]oter turnout reached 71 percent, the highest in 21 years. Despite public whining about “election fatigue,” and surveys suggesting that the political deadlock would not be broken, citizens came out in record numbers to cast their ballots. Contrary to descriptions of countrywide malaise, the atmosphere at polling stations was cheerful and energetic. Social media were rife with smiling selfies of voters doing their civic duty, as well as photos of children accompanying their parents in the process.

Even most of the 5,500 Israelis subjected to house quarantine—as a result of possibly being exposed to the coronavirus—showed up at the sixteen special tents set up for them across the country. Though they complained of long lines, they appeared to be happy to be out in the world after spending several days stuck in isolation, with only Netflix to keep them company.

As for Benjamin Netanyahu, even if his victory was “amazing, but not sufficient,” to Blum one thing is clear:

This election constituted a defeat of the “anybody but Bibi” hysteria. It represented a win for the sane center-right that believes in Netanyahu’s handling of domestic and foreign affairs, and strongly opposes the tyranny of the courts. It also illustrated that Israelis care about ideas and actions, and that they are not as swayed by empty slogans and outrageous assertions as certain politicians seem to imagine.

Read more at JNS

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2020, Israeli politics


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security