Shu Meng: Israel vote result hardens right-wing parties
Publish time: 2019-05-08 Browsing times: 26

MESI assistant researcher Shu Meng published an op-ed article on Global Times on April 17, 2019, the full text is as follows:

Israel vote result hardens right-wing parties

According to election results announced by the Israeli Central Elections Commission on April 12, the Likud Party led by incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become the largest party in Israel's new parliament after winning 36 seats. The leader of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz, has conceded defeat in the election. The right-wing parties have together seized about 65 seats, winning a majority. It is likely that Netanyahu will form a coalition government with the help of other right-wing parties. The victory will let Netanyahu serve a fifth term, making him the first leader in Israel's history to serve as prime minister for more than 20 years.

Netanyahu won despite a raging corruption scandal. His re-election can be attributed to three important reasons.

The first reason lies in Netanyahu's unrelenting stance on the Palestinian issue. At home, the Netanyahu government defines Israel as a nation for Jewish people, which exacerbates the tensions between Jews and Arabs in Israel. The government has carried out several airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza and said that more actions will be taken against the strip of land.

In the West Bank, the Netanyahu government supports the establishment and expansion of Jewish settlements. During the election campaign, Netanyahu even promised to annex large areas of the West Bank if re-elected. This triggered a strong backlash from Palestine and other Arab countries. Netanyahu has projected himself as the guardian of the security of Jewish people through a series of moves.

The second reason is Netanyahu's confrontation with anti-Israel forces such as Iran and Hezbollah over regional issues. Israel is tirelessly portraying Iran as a major threat to regional security. In January 2019, the Israeli Air Force attacked Iranian targets in Syria.

Targeting Lebanon, the Netanyahu government has been carrying out strikes under Operation Northern Shield in the northern border areas of Israel since December 2018, in a bid to destroy all the tunnels dug into Israel and used by Hezbollah.

The Netanyahu government has also launched multiple airstrikes against Syria and tried to forcibly annex the Golan Heights, which was recently recognized as Israeli territory by the US.

The third reason is US President Donald Trump's unceasing assistance to Israel. In order to ensure Netanyahu's re-election, Trump has shown brazen partiality toward Israel over and over.

In December 2017, Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and in May 2018, moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On March 21, Trump said the time had come for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

During Israel's general election, Trump designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization on April 8. It is the first time the US has formally done so with a country's armed forces. Even before the election results in Israel were released, Trump telephoned Netanyahu to send him congratulations. Russian media parodies Trump for acting like a spokesman for Netanyahu.

Netanyahu's re-election was a foregone conclusion. Under his rule, the right-wing will still dominate Israeli politics. Netanyahu has himself indicated that he will continue to form a right-wing coalition. Currently, right-wing political ideas are also supported by most opposition parties.

Under the Israeli right-wing principles of national security first and Jewish priority, conflicts between Israel and its neighboring countries are becoming more and more acute. As a result, seeking a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian issue shows no dawn.

At the same time, the possibility of conflicts with Iran, Syria as well as Lebanon has also risen sharply. In addition, due to America's bias on regional issues, Netanyahu's re-election will cast more shadow over the already volatile situation in the Middle East.

Source: Global Times