Analysis |

To Win, Netanyahu May Have Cannibalized the Right

The parties to watch in the coming hours are Naftali Bennett’s Hayamin Hehadash and Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut — two potential Netanyahu coalition partners who, according to exit polls, may not make it in

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes in Jerusalem. April 9, 2019
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes in Jerusalem. April 9, 2019Credit: Emil Salman

From the beginning of his campaign effort, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it known he would be steering his own ship when it came to the election strategy. While a team of young aides — including his son Yair — were responsible for running his campaign, Netanyahu was calling the shots.

In the final days of the campaign, the prime minister unleashed a flood of media interviews, social media posts and text messages aimed at Israel’s right-wing voters with a clear message: Vote “only for Likud” and “only for Netanyahu.” As several of the parties on the right appeared to sink close to or below the electoral threshold, that strategy appeared to defy its own logic. It may inadvertently mar Netanyahu’s chances at forming a right wing government, especially if Hayamin Hehadash, led by current ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, fails to make it in.

Gantz proves there is an alternative to Netanyahu | Analysis12 takeaways from Israel's looniest election that Netanyahu just won. Or is it Gantz?Election live updates - here

By cannibalizing from these shrinking rightist parties in hopes of scoring a decisive head-to-head victory against Benny Gantz, Netanyahu was recklessly dismissing the likely possibility that several of them would disappear from the Knesset count — and from his potential government coalition.

Whether, and how seriously, Netanyahu shot himself in the foot by taking support away from his right-wing rivals won’t be clear until the final count is in, including the votes of thousands of young Israel Defense Forces soldiers, whose ballots are counted after those of the general public.

The parties to watch in the hours ahead will be Bennett’s Hayamin Hehadash as well as Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut. These are the two potential Netanyahu coalition partners who, according to the polls, will not make it into the next Knesset.

Average of Israeli election exit polls (Ch. 11, Ch. 12 and Ch. 13)

Both, particularly Bennett, refused to give up hope when the polls were published, believing that support from soldiers would prove to be their salvation.

Three other right-wing parties hover near the electoral threshold in at least one of the major polls: Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu, and the Union of Right-Wing Parties — the alliance that includes the controversial Kahanist Otzma Yehudit.

The loss, should final results bear it out, would be particularly shocking in Bennett’s case, marking the dramatic fall of a party headed by a politician who was once considered a serious future contender for the premiership, and his number two, Shaked, who has been an influential and controversial justice minister.

This entire election owes its existence to Netanyahu. He was the one who decided it was in his interest to send Israelis to the polls in April, instead of waiting for his term to end in November. He had hoped for a decisive victory that would send the message that he had the nation’s full confidence — a message that would help him battle the pending criminal indictments against him. Certainly, this was not the result he was looking for.

Another party to keep an eye on when the final results come in is the Balad-United Arab List alliance, which, according to two of the three exit polls, will not make it in — dealing a potentially lethal blow to any chance of forming a center-left coalition. In this regard, Netanyahu may be pleased after all.

Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked and their Hayamin Hehadsah party (The New Right) may not make it in the next KnessetCredit: \ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

נתניהו עם כיפה שחורה על הראש נשען בשתי ידיו על הכותל

Israel Is Heading for Its Most 'Jewish' Election Ever

An El Al jet sits on the tarmac at John C. Munro International Airport in Hamilton, Thursday, in 2003.

El Al to Stop Flying to Toronto, Warsaw and Brussels

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

Crowds at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, in April.

U.S. Official: West Bank Entry for Palestinian Americans Unrelated to Israeli Visa Waivers

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews