The Crisis of Party Ideology in Israel

A political crisis is unfolding before our eyes in Israel, presenting the country with an unprecedented dilemma. For the first time in the history of the Jewish state, following the results of two election campaigns within one year, the leaders of main parties failed to form a government. For the first time, a third consecutive election has been scheduled. Frankly speaking, I do not see what fundamental changes can happen after the next elections, which should be held on March 2, 2020, if the composition of present leaders persists. This is especially the case of the Likud party, whose current leader and head of the Israeli government, Benjamin Netanyahu, is stubbornly hanging on to power, while he essentially remains the only barrier that prevented the formation of a national unity government in the country on the basis of a coalition between the two leading parties – Likud and Blue and White (Kaḥol Lavan). 

Now it’s hard to imagine what could happen if the next extraordinary elections lead to a similar distribution of mandates in the Israeli parliament compared to the previous two attempts. It is too early to make forecasts – one should see how the political elite of the country will behave. Nevertheless, at the same time, I expect a surge of social protests in Israel, due to the fact that each election campaign constitutes a significant state budgetary expenditure. In addition, despite the obvious cynicism of politics as a profession, Israeli society has an understanding that properly, the people elect their chosen ones, who should at least take care of them, these people. The current situation has revealed the absolute extent to which the political class neglects of the voters’ opinions.

Israeli Elections in 2019: Changes Without Change
Tatiana Nosenko
The government propaganda machine was used actively to persuade voters that Israel had no negotiating partner by exploiting the complicated political and territorial split in Palestine. The so-called territorial maximalists – the right religious nationalists – intensively promoted the ideas of indivisibility and holiness of the Land of Israel for the Jews.

In any event, despite the obvious political crisis, the state apparatus in Israel continues to function reasonably steadily. Another matter is that a number of officials are extremely hesitant to make long-term decisions on matters involving significant budgetary expenditures, as a change of government is expected in one way or another. Israel has neglected to make fundamental changes in its domestic and foreign policies, since the government (with certain changes) that was in power before this series of elections, is still functioning.

What is happening in Israel is a consequence of the crisis of party ideology as an essential concept. The two leading parties today are so similar on a number of issues that it is necessary to analyse very carefully the nuances of their approaches to spot the difference (and this does not always work). The fact that the electoral list of Blue and White was compiled literally on the eve of the April elections, and nevertheless two times in a row prevented the victory of one of the oldest Israeli parties, which formally has a powerful ideological background, suggests that many Israelis have simply stopped voting on the basis of shared ideology, and are instead voting “for” or “against” specific people, without attaching special importance to which party they represent. And, again, the apogee of such a personification is Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Prime Minister of Israel. I am sure that if he would make the personally difficult decision to resign from the post of leader of the Likud party, then the government could be formed and would already begin to work.

In my opinion, Russia is interested in seeing a speedy end to the political crisis in Israel. Moreover, despite the personal rapport between the current head of the Israeli government and the President of the Russian Federation, in order to continue effective bilateral cooperation in a number of areas the partners must clearly understand who is sitting on the other side of the table, even if the partner’s team changes. Only in this case we can expect the adoption and implementation of such decisions that not only allow us to maintain the current level of interaction, but are able to pursue bilateral cooperation in various areas at a higher level.
‘Seal of Excellence’ on a Foreign Policy Strategy in an Anarchic World
Andrey Sushentsov
The larger states have the advantage of being able to make more mistakes – at least, more than the smaller countries that have a lesser resilience margin, writes Andrei Sushentsov, Programme Director of the Valdai Club. On the other hand, smaller countries can play a more important role in international affairs if their strategies take care of their weaknesses and set development goals based on genuine national needs.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.