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First Polls Are In: Netanyahu Ahead, Bennett Big Winner, Lapid Big Loser

Netanyahu and Bennett

Israel’s Channel 2 and Channel 10 news departments have released their respective polls on the dramatic night when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the pink slips to the leftist coalition partners, Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni.

According to Channel 2, if the election were held Tuesday, Likud would get 22 Knesset seats—up from 20; Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home 17—up from 12; Labor 13—down from 15; former Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon (who doesn’t have an official party yet, but everybody expects he will real soon) 10—up from, well, nothing; Avigdor Liebrman’s Israel Beiteinu 10—down from 13; Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid faces a huge drop to 9—down from 19; ultra-Orthodox, Sephardi Shas, minus its departed guru, the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, 9—down from 11; ultra-Orthodox, Ashkenazi United Torah Judaism 8—up from 9; Tzipi Livni’s Movement 4—a whopping drop from 7; left wing Meretz a slow rise to 7—up from 6; and the Arab parties, should they be able to run together as a block, which is a huge if, 11—same as the combined seats of the three existing parties.

The reason the Arabs will probably have to unite or disappear, is the new law that was intended to facilitate more stable coalition governments by raising the minimum vote needed for entry into the Knesset from 2% to an unbelievable 3.25%. The new law means a party must have 3.9 seats before it can cash in on its first seat.

By the way, the same law may mean that Tzipi Livni, should she stick with her Movement, might say good bye to politics, seeing as the current poll only gives her the bear minimum required for a lease on life.

And lest you expect Bennett’s Jewish Home to welcome the news of its success with the appropriate glee, and not take steps to torpedo the win with internal strife and a whole lot of backstabbing, you may be disappointed.

The argument in favor of this obviously anti-democratic law, which brutally subverts the will of the voter, was that it would provide for larger parties and so, necessarily, for more stable coalitions.

What the law does in reality is force together very loosely related political camps, which end up with unavoidable internal splits, or, in other words, the conflicts are transferred from the open arena, in parliament, to the smoke filled rooms in someone’s basement (Israel still has those, you won’t believe how much these people smoke).

The Arab parties are a case in point, being forced to become an Arab mega-store, lumping together communists and religious traditionalists just because they’re Arabs. This could end badly.

However, should the leftist Arab parties find the wisdom to run together with Meretz, the heir of Israel’s Jewish communists and socialists of years past, they could become a serious contender, alongside Labor. But that would mean the Maoists and Trotskyists would have to get along, and I just don’t think they can.

Compare the above poll results (which, like every poll, are nothing more than a snap shot which loses veracity as we speak) to the Channel 10 score: Likud, Jewish Home, Yesh Atid and Labor are about the same. But Kahlon and Lieberman receive 12 seats each, Shas is down to 7, and the Arab mega-store scores only 9 seats.

In a normal, dare I say sane political system, the next month should be devoted to attempts on the part of all the players to coalesce into a clear, right-wing and a clear left-wing block, offering the voter real choices. But the world is yet to see sane political systems, which means that what we can expect is an election campaign that will be a moratorium on Benjamin Netanyahu. Should he continue to be Israel’s unavoidable ruler, or should the voter trust someone else.

But, like I said, this is only a snap shot, and you only count your money in the hallway (an Israeli adage that means it ain’t over until it’s over).

Stay tuned.

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