Israelis are today, as they were in the past fourteen years, living through an unprecedented crisis.
Many sociologists believe that the political instability, leadership crisis, lack of long-term vision, and the senior politicians’ corruption cases are principal reasons for Israel’s current election limbo.
Sharp, conflicting socio-economic divisions about Israel’s shaky future are visible at the growing street protests in Tel Aviv and other key Israeli cities, which could certainly devolve into a deep social schism marked by episodes of deadly street violence and an increasingly poisonous public debate. Beneath the surface of Israel’s perplexing politics, lays an old domestic rift. An Israeli law that has granted tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews exemptions from military duty will ultimately lead to a huge social rupture as surveys show the increasing number of Israelis who identify themselves as non-religious, feel discriminated against.
Looking from a different perspective, political tensions have been exacerbated in Israel as the corruption scandals against the conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continue to swirl. It is evident that the revelations about Bibi’s financial malfeasance and a lack of accountability strike at the heart of Israeli public confidence. There are now serious fears that the Israeli anti-Arab far-right parties, such as Otzma Yehudit party, would blackmail Bibi due to his weakness to single-handedly form the government, in order to incorporate Orthodox religious laws into Israeli secular jurisdiction.
In the meantime, Netanyahu’s staunch enemies did not stand idle. The liberal Benny Gantz at the head of the Blue and White as well as the Yesh Atid (”There is a Future”) party led by centrist Yair Lapid argue that they represent Israel’s marginalized secular middle class.
The outcome of the parliamentary election won’t affect the balance of power in Israel, but it would be certainly a blow to Bibi, who placed himself in the centre of the election imbroglio. With the economy teetering on the precipice of disaster largely a result of corruption and a lack of reform, almost all pre-election polls show that Netanyahu’s Likud chances to form a coalition are increasingly diminishing. Israeli voters will go to the ballots on March 23, unconvinced that things will improve, expecting 2021 to deliver even more financial and security hardship.
It shall remain unclear whether Netanyahu’s party would be able to form a coalition government with other small extremist parties, but after all, he made the Zionist who occupied Palestine to face an impending existential threat.