Netanyahu: comeback with Israel's far right

Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative Likud party has won a clear victory in the Knesset election in Israel, securing 32 of 120 seats. In second place with 24 seats is the liberal Yesh Atid party of Prime Minister Jair Lapid, whose "anti-Netanyahu coalition" collapsed in June. Netanyahu again wants to form a coalition with the Orthodox and also with the ultra-right religious Zionists, which would have a majority of 65 seats. The press is alarmed.

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Dnevnik (SI) /

Alarming Monopoly

There is practically no left in Israel anymore, and politics is moving further and further to the right, Dnevnik laments:

“Netanyahu will form his new government with the votes of a party led by far-right MP Itamar Ben-Gvir. Even in the very broadly understood spectrum of right-wing Israeli politics, Ben-Gvir was considered an outcast. Because of his political views, he was rejected by the Israeli army's recruiting authority and was not allowed to perform his military service. He was considered too dangerous to wear a uniform and carry a rifle. ... There is no alternative. ... The right has a monopoly on Israeli politics, and the left has grown tired of politics.”

Népszava (HU) /

No need for morality and political correctness

Netanyahu doesn't care about breaking the rules of democracy, says Népszava:

“The greatest innovation and danger of right-wing populism is that its representatives have realised how to circumvent the rules of democracy. There is no need for programmes: even the great returnee, Benjamin Netanyahu, the election winner in Israel, has not presented an economic policy programme; instead, he has only appealed to people's emotions. ... There is no longer any need for morality or political correctness. Netanyahu was even prepared to join forces with the racist ultra-radical right.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Dependent on Russia

Rzeczpospolita is concerned about the Israeli government's stance on Ukraine:

“Israel is neither involved in imposing sanctions against Russia nor in supplying weapons to the Ukrainians - even though it has more expertise in their production than most other countries. This means that, on balance, it is not on the West's side. This was already the case under the previous government and could become even more so under the next one. ... It is understandable that Israel is concerned about its security, but as a result, it is dependent on Russia, which is threatening Israel with consequences if it sides with Ukraine.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Historic shift to the right

Netanyahu's cabinet is becoming more right-wing than ever, Rzeczpospolita explains:

“His right-wing Likud party won a clear majority, which came as no surprise. ... What is surprising is the success of the extreme nationalist Religious Zionism list, which won 14 seats. It will become a coalition partner in Netanyahu's new government alongside proven allies: the two religious Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism. Together, these four factions have 65 seats. This is a comfortable majority that Netanyahu could have only dreamt of in recent years. ... This means the formation of the most far-right government in the history of the Jewish state.”

Mediapart (FR) /

Many goals, no scruples

The election winner spares no means to return to power, observes Mediapart:

“Between ideological blindness, a burning desire for political revenge against those who ousted him, and a dogged and trivial compulsion to escape the clutches of justice - it is difficult to discern Netanyahu's deeper motivations in this electoral battle. But one thing is clear: he is as ruthless in opposition as he is in power. In his quest to secure a majority and win allies in his fight against the judges, he has no qualms about surrounding himself with racist settlers and manipulative and demagogic rabbis who are used to using the motivating forces of religion to mobilise the masses.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

A threat to democracy

The ex-prime minister has long since ceased to be concerned about Israel's welfare, writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“His primary goal is to stop the corruption, embezzlement and fraud trials against him. And because more and more former allies from the centre-right have distanced themselves from him, he has cosied up to the far right. ... On the surface, Netanyahu's coalition partners-to-be are still moderate. ... But they will work towards weakening democratic institutions and thereby create an environment that decreases the freedoms of minorities and dissenters while the state becomes increasingly illiberal.”

Večernji list (HR) /

No longer neutral vis-à-vis Russia?

Večernji list wonders whether Netanyahu really intends to end Israel's neutrality vis-à-vis Russia:

“Many Israelis who are sympathetic to Ukraine voted for Netanyahu because he always emphasised in the election campaign that he was on the side of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, and would possibly consider supplying them with arms.. ... Now it is up to him to keep that promise. This would be a departure from his long unchanged position that Israel should remain neutral regarding the Russian invasion - in order to be able to continue attacking Iranian targets in Syria, whose airspace is controlled by Russia. Supplying weapons to Ukraine could be devastating for Israel should Russia close the skies over Syria to its bombers.” (UA) /

Confrontation with Moscow unlikely

It will be hard for Israel to give up its cooperation with Russia in Syria, observes, citing political analyst Iliya Kusa:

“So far, he reduction of the Russian contingent has only strengthened Iran's position. This is why Israel needs all the support it can get to keep Tehran in check in Syria. 'There are no other players there, just Russia, Turkey and the US. For Israel, collaboration with Russia in Syria was ideal. They understood one another, they have communication channels, regular political contacts,' the analyst explains. ... Israel has not established such cooperation with other countries.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A society at a crossroads

A lot is at stake in these elections, stresses Peter Münch, Israel correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“As the leader of the liberal Yesh Atid party, Lapid stands for the quest for compromise in an increasingly polarised society. ... This is the counter-model to the populist policies of Netanyahu, who has already ruled for a total of 15 years and is now striving for the prime minister's office once again. ... The Israelis must decide between a right-wing religious government that relies solely on power and thus threatens the cohesion of society or an unstable, heterogeneous alliance that nevertheless stands for pluralism and democratic compromise. A few thousand votes, the gain or loss of a single parliamentary seat, could make all the difference in determining Israel's future on Tuesday.”

La Stampa (IT) /

No sign of stability

La Stampa sees Netanyahu securing a very fragile majority:

“The former prime minister's right-wing bloc is leading in all the polls. But not far enough ahead to guarantee the Likud leader a numerical majority and thus the takeover of the country's government. ... The turnout of Israeli Arabs and religious Jews will be decisive, especially in a fragmented scenario where even the tiniest shift of votes between coalitions, but also within the same party, could jeopardise the securing of the majority of 61 of the 120 seats in the Knesset.”