Everything You Need to Know about The Israeli Election and Afterward
by Barry Rubin

There are in theory three possibilities but only one is real:

A. Likud led right-wing government. Won’t happen. Bibi cannot put together six different parties including Lieberman, two religious, and two far right. They will never agree to this and it will be too unwieldy to last.

B. Kadima led center-left government. Won’t happen. It is hard to put together Kadima, Labor, Lieberman, and Shas, too. You’ve got the Lieberman-Shas problem; Lieberman doesn’t want Bibi to call him an opportunist and eat away at his support.

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So this leaves us with C. A national unity government. Kadima-Likud with one or more of the following:

–Labor (around 66 seats)
–Shas (around 65 seats)
–Lieberman (around 68 seats)
One or more of the above.

Livni would prefer Labor; Netanyahu would probably prefer Shas or Lieberman. This can be worked out.

Here’s the big issue: Will Livni agree to rotation? Did she really win? She’s only one seat ahead and there are more Knesset members who prefer Netanyahu to her. She is not going to want to agree to power-sharing.

And so this process will take at least 3 and maybe 9 weeks. In the end, I think Bibi will get what he wants: national unity with rotation. Barak gets defense ministry.

This is all messy and some think humiliating. But in reality it won’t do the country much harm beforehand—the current government will continue—or afterward. I think a national unity government based on a national consensus is the best thing for Israel. Moreover, there is no huge issue likely to need deciding in the next two months. Yabeseder, smooh alli!


Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To subscribe to Gloria Center publications for free, write [email protected].