Well, Bibi got what he deserved—second place. If he had not played with the Knesset seats and moved right-wingers down into unrealistic positions, maybe people would have (mistakenly) believed that they could trust him to be strong and pro-Israel.
However, he showed his true colors too early. He showed that he couldn’t be trusted. He showed that he wasn’t in favor of Likud actually acting like Likud and being truly right-wing. If he had at least acted like he thought Israel is a real country with real borders and the need for real security, he would have pulled off a great victory, but he couldn’t keep the farce going long enough.
Bibi had already started talking about making coalitions with Kadima and Labor BEFORE the election. And don’t be surprised if he tries to avoid any true right-wing parties as he makes his coalition. He can talk a good game and suggest that he has a “rightist block,” but the truth is the weakest chain in any right-wing coalition will be Bibi. Why are Netanyahu and Livni neck in neck? Because they are the same. He is Olmert with a good suit—or worse. Bibi and Livni will give away land, and Bibi and Livni are already practicing how they will grovel before King Obama in order to make him love them. Forget Israel. Bibi is in this for Bibi.
The saving grace of this whole election is that he came in second to Livni, and Bibi wants to be PM so bad that he can taste it. If he forms a coalition with Livni, then he won’t be PM—so he HAS to make a coalition that does not include Kadima (Thank G-d).
It is through his coalition that we might be able to force Bibi to actually do the things he has said he would do in order to get elected—you know, like support Israel instead of giving in. Here’s how I see the major players:
- Yisrael Beiteinu and its chairman Avigdor Lieberman are anything but right wing (15 mandates). Lieberman is only right wing to those who think anyone not kissing the tuchas of every arab they see must be “right wing.” The truth is that he has already spoken openly of dividing Jerusalem, giving away the Golan, and supporting “defensible borders,” which is lefty talk for “everything but Tel Aviv.” He is a natural ally for Bibi because he is as much of a snake as Bibi is—talking right, acting left. The only problem with hungrily snatching up a nice tasty bite of Lieberman in order to form a coalition is that he and Shas don’t get along so well, and the far-lefties won’t sit in a government with him (or at least they say they won’t—but it’s all posturing at this point).
- Shas are weenies (11 mandates). They can be purchased for a few extra child-credits or some money for Yeshivot. They don’t really care about Israel at all, they just care that their supporters can live a few more months without doing anything but studying Torah and making more little Torah Scholars. Of course, they don’t talk that way. They say they are great supporters of Israel, that they demand an undivided Jerusalem, that they are against any land give-aways . . . But every time they vote, they vote with those who want to give up land. Of course, those votes are legally and lawfully purchased, so I guess they think they must be Kosher.
- Labor (13 mandates). Peres and Bibi are excellent buddies. What does it matter that Bibi says what he says? We know what he will do—make “peace” (i.e. Make traitorous plans with enemy arab states to destroy Israel). The only problem is Labor says they won’t sit in the same government with Avigdor Lieberman (but it’s all posturing at this point).
- United Torah Judaism (5 mandates). If Bibi can’t get Labor to sit in government with Lieberman, and if Labor actually holds to that premise, then Bibi will have to go shopping around to replace those votes. Just Likud, Shas, and Yisrael Beiteninu would make a total of 53 mandates. With Labor, Bibi would enjoy a coalition fo 66 (five over what he needs to form a government). Even with Labor, it would be nice to have a comfortable margin for the purpose of setting up the cabinet to give away Israel, so picking a nice party like UTJ might be Bibi’s cup of tea. Putting themselves off as a right-wing party, UTJ is the least nationalist of the small “nationalist” parties. In fact, when Matot Arim asked candidates to sign a loyalty oath ruing out a PA state, UTJ’s Meir Porush was the only UTJ MK to sign it (even Shas signed that document!). I am deeply suspect of this party—which makes it perfect for Bibi!
OK, that’s my pick for Bibi’s coalition. If he has to stick in the other two nationalist parties into his coalition, he is sunk. He will actually have to act like a right-wing politician and actually do what he said he would do (you know, small things like keeping Jerusalem United, etc.).
If Hashm is smiling upon the Jewish people, Labor will refuse to be in Bibi’s coalition and he will have to include National Union and Habayi Hayehudi—the only true Nationalist Parties out there with any mandates. I guess we will see what happens in the next week.
Now, the only question remains—will Olmert ever leave, or will he insist he his still PM until the moment they haul him, kicking and screaming, into prison?
Last update - 11:30 11/02/2009
Kadima, Likud scramble to muster rival coalitions
By Lily Galili, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service
An inconclusive election sent Israel into political limbo Wednesday with both Tzipi Livni and Benjamin Netanyahu claiming victory, and scrambling to form rival coalitions.
With 99 percent of the votes counted Wednesday morning, Livni's centrist Kadima was in first place with 28 of the Knesset's 120 seats, with Netanyahu's right-wing Likud following closely behind with 27 seats.
Kadima's narrow lead meant it was not certain that Livni would be able to muster the 61-seat coalition needed to form a government. Netanyahu in fact had a better chance of forging a coalition because of gains by right-wing parties, his natural allies.
The outgoing coalition chairman, MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), said Wednesday morning that a team would begin negotiations immediately in order to forge a Livni-led coalition.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, was due to meet with Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday afternoon for coalition talks.
Lieberman's far-right party surged into third place on its anti-Arab rhetoric, making him a potential kingmaker with 15 seats.
Early Wednesday, Lieberman said he was leaving his options open, indicating he could choose to join a Likud or a Kadima-led government. But he also said he preferred a "nationalist" government. Yisrael Beiteinu was to convene for a meeting later Wednesday to discuss its coalition options.
Netanyahu was also set to hold talks on Wednesday afternoon with Eli Yishai, whose ultra-Orthodox Shas party received 11 seats.
Yishai on Wednesday morning told Army Radio that, "We committed ourselves before the election to recommend Benjamin Netanyahu to the president. The people's choice is a rightist government. This, of course, doesn't rule anything out."
The Shas leader was referring to President Shimon Peres legal obligation to consult with all the parties as to who they prefer as prime minister, after which whoever is recommended by more Knesset members is given the nod. Hence if the religious and rightist parties all recommend Netanyahu, he would get first crack at forming a government.
Peres's discussions with Knesset factions could take about a week and coalition talks could drag on for more than a month.
Yisrael Beiteinu sources: We won't rule out joining coalition with Shas
Also Wednesday, sources in Yisrael Beiteinu said their party was not ruling out joining a coalition that included Shas. This was despite Lieberman's pledge Tuesday that he would not forget the attacks made by the ultra-Orthodox party on Yisrael Beiteinu and himself.
He was referring to the warning issued by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on Saturday night that, "Whoever votes for Lieberman gives strength to Satan."
Although most of the ballots were counted by Wednesday morning, the final results may not be known until Thursday afternoon, when election officials finish counting the soldiers' votes and other absentee ballots.
There are about 150,000 eligible absentee voters, so if the race remains close their votes could be decisive. In past elections, the soldiers' vote has often leaned rightward.
Early Wednesday, Netanyahu declared victory in a speech to supporters, despite indications by exit polls that Likud had gained fewer seats than Kadima.
"Even if exit polls are accurate, there is no doubt regarding the only conclusion they point to: the Israeli people have said their word in a clear fashion, the nationalist bloc, led by Likud, won a clear victory," the Likud leader said.
Livni also claimed victory, and called on Netanyahu to join a Kadima-led coalition government.
"I offered this to you before this election was decided upon, to join a national government, led by me, to battle those challenges facing Israel today," Livni said. "You turned me down and said that it was up to the people to decide. Well, today the people chose Kadima."