To understand the extent of the upcoming Israeli elections on March 2, I think we have to start a little further back. At least since the last decade of the last century.
Understanding the prospects with which the parties to the right of Likud face this election round is fundamental, not only to figure out the role they could play in future government formation dynamics, but also to picture what is happening to the nationalist-religious camp in Israel and, therefore, to verify the health and solidity of the Israeli political and party system in a time of fragile transition.
At a time when the political debate about state identity rages, the Palestinians of Israel, the biggest non-Jewish minority of the country (21% of the population), represent both the greatest electoral challenger and one of the few contradictory voices in an otherwise predominantly right-wing domestic electoral debate.
Beyond the results of the national election on March 2 – the third consecutive in 11 months –, Israeli foreign policy will remain the same. It will be dominated by three closely related issues: the developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the presentation of the so-called “Trump Plan”, the normalization process between Israel and African-Asian Muslim countries, and the diplomatic (and security) containment of Iran and its regional proxies.
Israelis have gotten used over the years to governments that do not complete their full terms. But, they never experienced repeat elections prior to 2019. The current political deadlock is leading Israelis to the polls for the third time in one year. In the final days of the campaign, leading candidates are even referring to the option of a fourth round. Israelis are facing an unprecedented political situation that takes a heavy toll on governance and policymaking.
The starting point and the sole reason that Israel faces a third election within a year is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s looming (and now happening) indictment due to several corruption cases. Since Netanyahu seems to put all his hopes on a law granting him legal immunity he is bound to coalesce only with right winged parties – all others parties from the center-left-Arab bloc have ruled this possibility out.
The March 2 general elections in Israel – the third in 11 months – remain contested and uncertain, crossed by scandals, fake news and harsh propaganda. The country is facing an unprecedented political situation, with a heavy toll on governance and policymaking.
The April 9 general elections in Israel are among the most contested, uncertain, and possibly crucial in the country’s republican history. Israel’s society is increasingly polarized, and political tensions are also on the rise: the left-right dichotomy has grown beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and now touches upon a series of questions regarding the fundamental values and institutions of the state.
When we talk or write about the volatile Middle East, there are few certainties. One of these certainties is that foreign policy in Israel remains the same even as political seasons change. Whether there are elections or government crises, Israeli foreign policy bets on its outdated “security-based diplomacy” approach to foreign relations that has anchored the State’s Defense Doctrine since the Six-Day War in 1967.
There are just over 6.3 million Israeli voters on the electoral roll for the 21st Knesset elections. Of these, some 950,000 (15%) are Arab citizens. A recent public opinion poll among Israeli Arab voters, conducted three weeks before Election Day by the German Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, found that in the upcoming elections, voter turnout among Arab citizens is expected to reach a low of 51%.