Israel Has Chosen - What Do Its Choices Portend? Six Key Post-election Reads

As Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised for a fourth term, Haaretz's columnists weigh in on the people and policies that will shape Israel's future.

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Zionist Union backers react to first exit polls at party headquarters in Tel Aviv, March 17, 2015.Credit: Associated Press

Israel's knock-down, drag-out campaign is over, the people have spoken and Benjamin Netanyahu appears poised to start negotiating to form a coalition for his fourth term in office.

How and why did the country choose as it did? And what do its choices mean for the future? Here's a selection of essays by Haaretz's columnists and correspondents, touching on the people and policies that will shape Israel's future.

The decision of hundreds of thousands of people to vote for Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid Party split the moderate bloc and gave the government yet again to Likud, to the right wing, Ari Shavit argues. In 2013 Yair Lapid brought Naftali Bennett to power; this time, Lapid gave the power back to Benjamin Netanyahu.

If after six years of nothing, of sowing fear and anxiety, hatred and despair, this is the nation's choice, it is a very ill choice indeed, Gideon Levy asserts. After everything that has been written and revealed in recent months, if this Israeli phoenix was able to rise from the ashes and get reelected, something is truly broken, possibly beyond repair.

Surprises were inevitable in this year's election, but nobody could have predicted how many or how sharp they were, Allison Kaplan Sommer reports. The morning after, Israelis awoke feeling as if either a miracle had occurred or their worst nightmare had come true.

The signs pointed to change: Netanyahu’s charm seemed to be wearing off and the nation was ready for new leadership. Judy Maltz reports that leftist, secular Tel Aviv on Tuesday went to sleep cautiously optimistic and on Wednesday woke up despairing and devastated.

The Joint List, made up largely of the Arab parties, is the one refreshing thing to come out of the election, Amira Hass suggests. But it has its work cut out for it. The party's leaders must fight the good financial and political fights with Israel - and inspire the Palestinian Authority to reform.

While Prime Minister Netanyahu needs no kingmakers in this election, he still might well need Moshe Kahlon, the domestic-policy-focused leader of the Kulanu Party. Asher Schechter profiles Kahlon, saying he's a shoo-in to become finance minister, and if he follows through on his plans, the effects on Israeli consumers' daily lives could be groundbreaking.

This week, we saw how our prime minister thinks, what he's willing to do, how far he's willing to go, how many of us he's willing to sell out, slander and abuse, all to hang on to the one thing that truly matters to him: his job. After this week, Bradley Burston says, we can never again say that we didn't quite know who Benjamin Netanyahu is. As an Israeli, he's ashamed that the prime minister is a racist.

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