Centrists weaken Netanyahu's grasp
JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged weakened and facing a redrawn political map on Tuesday when Israeli television projections showed a surge for a new centrist party, Yesh Atid, in Israel's elections, making it a key element of a coalition.
Netanyahu's ticket combining his rightist Likud party with the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu faction won 31 parliamentary seats, according to the projections, a sharp decline from the combined 42 seats held by the two parties in the outgoing 120-member legislature.
The faction remained the largest in parliament, but its shrunken size meant that Netanyahu will be more dependent on smaller coalition partners to cobble together a parliamentary majority.
In a message on his Facebook page after the projections were announced, Netanyahu said he would begin “efforts to put together the widest government possible,” indicating that centrist parties would be invited into his coalition.
The surprise result, according to the projections, was the surge to 19 seats of Yesh Atid, or There is a Future, a new centrist party. Its leader, Yair Lapid, a former television anchorman, based his campaign on a demand to end the exemption of tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service so they can pursue religious studies with government stipends.
Lapid's campaign for equal service and easing the burden on Israel's struggling middle class resonated with many secular Israelis who pay high taxes and serve in the military. He has also called for a resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians.
“The message is that there is a new agenda,” said Ofer Shelah, a Yesh Atid candidate, on Channel Two television.
“Lapid will determine how Netanyahu's government will look,” said Amit Segal, Channel Two's political reporter, adding that Netanyahu “will now have to pay a heavy price.”
The opposition Labor Party, which polls had predicted would be the second-largest faction, slid to third place, with 17 to 18 seats, according to the projections. Its leader, Shelly Yachimovich, has vowed not to join a government with Netanyahu.
A religious nationalist pro-settlement party, Jewish Home, which surged in the polls, was projected to win 12 seats, making it another potentially crucial element in a governing coalition.
“We've returned to the center of the political map,” said its leader, Naftali Bennett, who extended the party's appeal to secular Israelis. Bennett opposes a Palestinian state and has called for annexation of most of the West Bank.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Antarctica yields life in extremest of conditions, so what about on another planet?
- Al-Qaida branch seizes Syrian city
- Boko Haram kills dozens, prevents hundreds voting in Nigeria
- Saudi-led attacks seen as escalating violence in Yemen
- Nigerian President Jonathan urges peaceful vote as elections loom
- Airstrikes intensify in Yemen as Egypt, Saudis consider ground forces