Arab Media Declares Early Israel Election Victory for 'Extreme Right'

The terms 'rightist' and 'Israel' were inseparable in Arab press coverage of Israel's elections Tuesday.

Hours before exit poll results were announced Tuesday, Arab media predicted "extremist" right-wing political parties were expected to make a strong showing in the Israeli elections.

The lead story of the Web site for the Arab Al Arabiya news declared "[Avigdor] Lieberman's radical party" was to become the third largest faction in the Knesset. The Web site's decision to refer to the leader of Yisrael Beitinu by only his surname shows the familiarity of Arab readers with Israeli politicians.

At the same time, Jordanian television broadcast a speech by King Abdullah on the event of a national day honoring its armed forces. During the monarch's speech, in which he praised his father's peace-making policy, a news ticker ran on the bottom of screen that "[Israel's] rightist bloc is expected to win" in the elections, a bloc whose ideology differs from the vision of the late King Hussein.

In London, locally published Arab-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi informed readers about Israel's right wing opposition to Palestinian refugees' right of return and the division of Jerusalem. Its main rival, the Saudi-owned Asharq Alawsat ran a story with the headline, "Israeli elections a contest between the right and the extreme right."

The term "rightist" and "Israel" were inseparable in Arab media Tuesday. But the Israeli elections coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Islamist revolution in Iran and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, which dominated coverage.

A search for articles about the future of relations between Israel and the Arab world turned up only one article in the Arab-language London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

"There is no difference between the parties, either the rightists that follow the teachings of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, or those that adhere to Ben-Gurion, who was even more right-wing than Jabotinsky and during whose tenure the Kafr Kana massacre took place," Mostafa Zein wrote. "Jabotinsky will be the one that wins the elections, whether he is personified by [Ehud] Barak, [Benjamin] Netanyahu or Lieberman, or takes on the form of a woman by the name Tzipi Livni."