01/23/2013, 00.00
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Israeli elections: a head to head between Netanyahu and the left

by Joshua Lapide
Exit-polls put Netanyahu and Lieberman alliance at 31 seats, 11 fewer than in 2009. Good results for Naftali Bennett, of the extreme right, with 11 seats. Great victory for centrist Yair Lapid, the new entry of this election, with estimated 19 seats. He will be the great elector of the future government. Right and left are battling it out on the edge of the 60 seat margin of the 120 seat Knesset. No one speaks of peace with the Palestinians, only internal economic problems.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Benjamin Netanyahu has already claimed victory and states he is willing to form "as broad a government as possible", but several analysts stigmatize his as a "Pyrrhic victory". In fact, based on exit polls from a nearly complete count, the Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition, the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu, had gained 31 seats: it would be the largest block, but would lose 11 seats compared to the 2009 elections when together they had 42.

At 4 this morning, again according to exit polls, the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu was at 31 seats, the Yesh Atid 19, Labor 15, Shas 11, Habayit Hayehudi 11, United Torah Judaism 7; Hatnuah 6, Meretz 6, United Arab List- Ta'al 5, Balad 3; Kadima struggling to win at least two seats.

Based on these results, the right and left will be battling it out for one or two votes, to surpass 61 to 59 of the 120 seats in the Knesset.

The final results will be ready on January 30, following the count of the votes cast by soldiers, patients, doctors, nurses, hospitals, staff working abroad, etc. .. But even now the difficulties for a second term for Netanyahu which should be decided by President Shimon Peres, are visible,.

Among the surprises of this election, are the 11 seats likely to be won by Naftali Bennett 's right-wing Habayit Hayehudi, and - an even bigger surprise to observers - the 19 seats for Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (see photo), a centrist formation.

In the Israeli media, analysts give two reasons for this victory: the first is the old character of Netanyahu proposals, who instead of presenting himself as a sensitive leader who cares for all Israelis, he gave himself the image of an 'ultra right -religious leader, a supporter of illegal settlements, ready for war with Iran.

The second reason, more positive, it is the new style of Lapid, who relied on the internet and TV, and found support in the middle class, among the secularists, promising new homes, military service for ultra-Orthodox students, attention to the education system . The problem - analysts say - is that the new rising star knows nothing about politics and is likely to be swallowed up by one or other of the parties.

For now, Netanyahu has made some statements reiterating that the Iranian nuclear threat is the very first challenge for his government. Lapid has said that will not be joining Netanyahu, unless he is committed to peace with the Palestinians. But before the election he had expressed his willingness to accept an important ministry in the government of Netanyahu. In this way, he is perhaps the great elector of this election, while Natayahu and Kadima are the big losers.

One thing to note is that the peace process with the Palestinians was almost never talked about in this election and the focus was on internal social and economic problems. From the financial and macro-economic point of view of Israel is in good shape, with a growth of 3.3 of GDP in 2012 and an unemployment rate of 6.8%. But the population is feeling the increase in house prices (+5.7%), food (+4%), electricity (+9%). According to figures released in recent days, one Israeli in four lives in poverty.


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