Arab media is closely following the results of the Israeli vote on Wednesday, highlighting the blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Netanyahu loses a quarter of his power, but will remain prime minister,” writes Nazir Majali in A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned daily printed in London. According to the newspaper, Netanyahu and his “extreme right-wing allies” were dealt “a severe blow” by the Israeli voters, even though he will continue to lead the country.
Al-Hayat, another leading Arab daily printed in London, reports that the high Israeli voter turnout “surprised and worried” Netanyahu and sparked optimism among the centrist parties.
“Whatever the results of the Israeli elections are, they will have little effect internally and great effect externally,” writes columnist Marzouq Halabi. “Internally, the results will not change the details of the Israeli society’s agenda, which focuses on the economic-social element, the Palestinian issue and the geo-strategic changes in the region. These issues will remain at the core of the political process in Israel after the electoral fog settles.”
Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a vehemently anti-Israeli daily with an Arab nationalist tint, claims in its headline that “the Israelis have become more extremist in the elections and the Palestinians are pessimistic.” The daily opens its coverage by reporting that Netanyahu “invaded” the Western Wall in Jerusalem after voting.
‘The competition in these elections was between the racist extreme-right and the even more racist and more extreme right’
“Most analysts say that Netanyahu’s visit to the Western Wall on Tuesday morning was intended to woo the undecided extremist Israelis to vote for him, claiming that he safeguards Israel’s security and its eternal capital Jerusalem,” writes reporter Walid Awadh.
Meanwhile, the daily’s editorial predicts that Netanyahu’s victory marks the end of the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Goodbye to Olso and the two-state solution,” reads the headline. “We cannot dispute the fact that the Israeli elections which ended last night were the most boring, but they may bring about the most dangerous results for Israel and the entire Arab regions,” writes the editor.
“The competition in these elections was between the racist extreme-right and the even more racist and more extreme right. In other words, between ‘Yisrael Beytenu’ and the Jewish Home party led by Naftali Bennett, representing settlements and settlers in the occupied Arab lands.”
‘Any coalition he forms will be fragile and the likelihood of its collapse is high,’ reads the report in Al-Quds
“The new government will be a war government,” concludes the hardliner daily, “first a war against Palestinians, then a regional war under the pretext of eliminating the Iranian nuclear danger, and the threats of Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
Palestinian dailies also dedicate their better parts to the election results.
“A humiliating victory for Netanyahu and a worrying balance between right and center,” reads the headline of PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, displaying graphs of the results based on Israeli television exit polls on its front page.
“Netanyahu is in a bind,” claims Jerusalem-based daily Al-Quds, reporting a 61-seat bloc for the Israeli right in the new Knesset.
“Any coalition he forms will be fragile and the likelihood of its collapse is high,” reads the report in Al-Quds.
Hani Habib, writing for PA daily Al-Ayyam before the official publication of the election results, bemoans the division within the ranks of Israel’s Arab factions.
“The political life of the Arab sector in Israel suffers from the same division and fragmentation afflicting all Palestinians. This remark relates not only to what precedes the results, but most likely to what will follow them too, unfortunately,” writes Habib.