Israeli election: how to break the deadlock?

After the fourth election in two years, the formation of a government in Israel is yet again proving difficult. Despite losses, Prime Minister Netanyahu's right-wing conservative Likud remains the strongest party with around 90 percent of the votes counted, but this is not enough for him to secure a majority with the alliance of right-wing and religious parties he wants. Commentators discuss the options in this deadlock situation.

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El Mundo (ES) /

Fifth election can't be ruled out

A total of 13 parties are expected to enter the Knesset. The fragmented party landscape and the controversial prime minister are paralysing the country, notes El Mundo:

“The extraordinary fragmentation of the Israeli political system is proving to be a serious problem for the governability of a country that is of key geostrategic importance in international politics and which needs to confront urgent challenges such as reviving its economy, which has been badly damaged by the pandemic. Despite his electoral success, Netanyahu is such a polarising figure today that a fifth election can't be ruled out.”

The Jerusalem Post (IL) /

Unity government the order of the day

The Israeli prime minister must admit defeat, The Jerusalem Post urges:

“Netanyahu must recognise that he cannot form a coalition with his political allies that will enable him to get immunity. He does not have the numbers. Instead of dragging the nation to yet another election in the hope that he will get those numbers, he now has to move on. ... A sober look at Tuesday's confounding results dictates that the best solution is a government that brings parties together from across the political aisle, with each party compromising some of its aims. This could be Netanyahu pulling from the Center-Left or Lapid [of the centrist Yesh Atid] pulling from the Right. Both would be legitimate. A narrow pro-Netanyahu or anti-Netanyahu government is doomed to quick failure. Given Tuesday's results, and the need to avoid a fifth election, a unity government is now the call of the hour.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Looking for a crutch

In his bid to remain prime minister Netanyahu could well approach the Arab Ra'am party, La Stampa concludes:

“The potential coalition between Likud and the two traditional religious parties, Naftali Bennett's Jamina and the ultra-right Religious Zionists, who made a brilliant entry into the Knesset with six MPs, needs a crutch. And right now, the longest-serving prime minister in Israel's history doesn't know where to find it. ... That is why Likud sources have brought up the idea of Ra'am as a potential crutch. ... To convince the Arabs, Netanyahu is counting on the peace agreements with the Gulf monarchies and on the record-setting vaccination campaign, which could be extended to the Palestinian territories.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

The pious march hand in hand

One piece of seemingly good news is that for the first time in Israel's history there could be a government that includes an Arab party, says taz:

“Seemingly, because the conservative-Islamic Ra'am represents only a small part of the Arab sector. Queer and women's rights feature just as little in its party programme as they do in the Jewish-Orthodox lists. In the fight against liberals, against feminists and against sexual freedom, the pious march hand in hand. ... Paradoxically, the very same politician who once warned of Arabs 'flocking en masse to the ballot box' could be the first to invite them to co-govern. That would send an important signal for coexistence.”

Le Temps (CH) /

Dam break on the far right

The entry into the Knesset of the far-right Religious Zionism Party, which openly represents homophobic, racist and violence-glorifying positions, worries Le Temps:

“Its acceptance today is the latest sign of the radical transformation of the country that has been ruled for twelve years by Benjamin Netanyahu. ... As society as a whole leans more and more clearly to the right, the country continues to slide in the direction of religious Zionism and ultra-Orthodoxy, at the cost of no longer bearing any resemblance to the dream of its founders. Parliamentary majorities, when they do emerge, are so small that each member practically becomes a kingmaker. ... There is an increasingly clear rift between the Israelis who approve of the Jewish nation state and those who still cling to the democratic character of the country.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Bibi hunkers down

No matter how complicated the government formation process in Israel becomes, Netanyahu won't be leaving anytime soon, says The Spectator:

“The selection of Israel's President ... is due to happen this summer. The President is chosen by the Knesset and has pomp but few powers - but is immune from criminal prosecution while in office. Some wonder if Netanyahu could be tempted by the role, pausing his trial for the seven-year presidency and giving him a dignified path out of politics. But don't discount Bibi either. His party and its allies might not have won this election, but they haven't lost it yet too. There's always deals to be made, defectors to tempt and, if all else fails, election number five.”