Even as the ballots from the March 2 threepeat Israeli elections were still being counted on Wednesday morning, The Times of Israel Podcast spoke with founding editor David Horovitz, who analyzed the fallout to make sense of the upcoming messy coalition building.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still three seats short of a majority, but with 36 seats out of 120, the Likud is the largest party and the prime minister is likely to be tapped first by President Reuven Rivlin to begin coalition conversations.
Horovitz describes the well-oiled Likud campaign team, who out-performed a less-than-charismatic Blue and White head Benny Gantz. The left-wing alliance of Labor, Meretz and Orly Levy’s Gesher was gutted, whereas the Joint Arab List added two MKs to its four-party alliance.
“Any seat that moves in any direction makes a difference,” said Horovitz. However since it is less likely that the Joint List will sit in a coalition with either Gantz or Netanyahu, there are fewer options for gaining a slim majority of 61 to form a government.
“By running together [the Joint List] clearly galvanized its voters… It’s a complicated entity, parts of which at least are anathema to the Zionist parties and their growth therefore weakens the anti-Netanyahu Zionist parties,” he said.
Will there be a fourth election? “I hope this doesn’t sound naive, we don’t have particularly high expectations of our politicians, but I think that [Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor] Liberman’s behavior in particular is a new low of essentially the political torture of an electorate,” said Horovitz.
“Essentially, when we are all hostage to the caprices of our politicians, nobody can predict anything,” he added.
In addition to the Israeli general elections, another important event for the Jewish state took place this week: the AIPAC annal conference. For the first time in almost 20 years, Horovitz didn’t attend. And he wasn’t alone — most Israeli politicians and thinkers did not participate in the three-day conference in order to vote in the Israeli elections. (Israel does not have an absentee ballot.)
This lack of a wide-spread meet-up between Israelis and pro-Israel Americans was “among the many unfortunate consequences of being driven to the polls all the time.”
“AIPAC is a relatively important occasion on the calendar when Israelis and Americans who care about this relationship talk to each other. The fact that Israelis were in the most case unable to fly to this conference because they wanted to vote — it’s just a shame because it is one of these crucial forums for serious dialogue and will have been somewhat undermined this year,” said Horovitz.
To hear more — including audio snapshots from polls around the country — listen to the complete interview.