Who really won? Who really lost?
Bibi Netanyahu wins by landslide!
Final party slate tally of Knesset's 120 parliamentary seats, with 99 percent of votes counted: Likud 30; Zionist Union 24--a coalition of Labor Party's Isaac Herzog & Hantua's Tzipi Livni; Joint (Arab) List, 14; Yesh Atid, 11; Kulanu, 10; Jewish Home, 8; Shas, 7; United Torah Judaism, 6; Yisrael Beytenu, 6; Meretz, 4.
The Times of Israel reports that Bibi has spoken with Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett, Kulanu’s Moshe Kahlon, Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman, Shas’s Aryeh Deri, and United Torah Judaism’s Yaakov Litzman. They would, with Likud, hold 68 seats in the Knesset, a solid margin. Bibi aims to form a coalition within two to three weeks.
Likud made a rush in the closing days, based upon a hardline pitch. Polls proved wildly off. They tend to under-sample soldiers, whose votes are counted later in the day.
One factor, little known: Israel, from 1996 through 2001, elected its prime minister directly. Likud's Bibi won in 1996, then Labor's Ehud Barak in 1999, then Likud's Ariel Sharon in 2001. All had trouble forming governing coalitions; so Israel went back having the Knesset invite a politician to form a government, as it had done since its 1948 founding. Generally it is the candidate whose party won the most votes in the election.Yet not always: Netanyahu could have been PM even if Likud had lost. Bibi got a second chance in 2009, when Tzipi Livni, then head of Ariel Sharon's Kadima, which had edged Likud 28 - 27 in the parliamentary tally, couldn't form a coalition; Bibi was able to do so.
One factor that likely helped Likud's rush: Literally 12 hours before the vote was to begin, Livni announced that if the Zionist Union won, she would forego her two-years each arrangement with Herzog; so Herzog would have been PM the full term if Zionist Union had won.
Anti-Netanyahu media ignored important, good economic news:
For example, Israel's per capita gross national product, widely held as a key benchmark for the strength and stability of an economy, has gone up from $15,600 in 2003, when Netanyahu was appointed finance minister, to $41,000 in 2014. No other OECD country, to which we so love to compare ourselves, has seen this kind of growth. The unemployment rate during that same period has plummeted from 10.3% to 5.7%, which everyone agrees is a low rate compared to Europe. The average monthly income in Israel has gone up from 7,884 to 9,123 shekels over the last five years. But all these "social" achievements are heavily obscured.
Israel's economic growth has been steady at 4% every year in the recent past, despite the global economic crisis of 2008. This kind of growth was also recorded during Netanyahu's first term as prime minister, between 1996 and 1999. . . .
Commercial trade with Turkey has doubled in the last five years from $2.6 billion in 2009 to $5.6 billion in 2014, and that is just one example of many.
One reason for this is that success in the security arena may have pushed such issues towards the back burner. CBlog's Jonathan Tobin offers reassurance that if Bibi cannot form a coalition, a Labor party government will be hawkish, if only of necessity. On election eve, Bibi said that "under current conditions" a Palestinian state would be a "terror state" and he would oppose its creation. As reported by Breitbart:
“I think anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state and to evacuate territory is to give radical Islam a staging ground against the State of Israel. This is the reality that has been created here in recent years. Anyone who ignores it has his head in the sand.....
"We stood fast against huge pressure, and we will continue to do so. . . .
“Any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions and no withdrawals. It is simply irrelevant.”
Winners. (1) Bibi Netanyahu, who can be PM now for four full years, meaning he could have the joy of outlasting President Obama's term. (2) Likud, which won more sets in the Knesset than they had in either of Bibi's two wins during Obama's tenure in office. (3) Israel's right-leaning voters, who came to realize that if they wanted Bibi to win & have first shot at forming a government they had to pull the lever for his party.
Losers. (1) Zionist Union, though Herzog made a decent showing as a first-time Labor Party leader. (2) President Obama, whose open, clumsy efforts to intervene in Israel's election, and whose contemptuous treatment of Bibi backfired big-time; Obama will face an Israeli leader with a first-ever mandate: to stand up to, rather than genuflect to, an American administration. (3) pollsters, whose reputation will take a well-deserved hit after blowing this one. (4) Iran, who thought they'd face a weaker Israeli government, whether headed by Likud or the Zionist Union; (5) Palestinians, who now face victorious Bibi after Bibi explicitly rejected any "peace" deal with them in the current climate.
Bottom Line. Israel's electorate has delivered a decisive verdict. Our strongest Mideast ally has been buttressed, and President Obama's crusade to weaken Israel versus the Palestinians & Iran has been undercut.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, National Security, Foreign Policy, WMD, Nuclear Proliferation, Conservative Politics