This election campaign, just like all the others before it, is seeing the proliferation of innumerable polls and surveys that aim to assess the voting trends and election outcomes in Israeli society. However, most of these polls are deceptive and misleading. They tend to address the chaff while ignoring the wheat, deliberately overlooking the most significant data.
While the polls continually measure and balance the weight of the different voting blocs, calculating the “Anyone but Bibi” bloc versus the “Only Bibi” bloc, the answer provided by the polls to a far more in-depth and fundamental question is obscured and hidden from the public. The question that should concern us as citizens of a democratic state is what the people of Israel think about the future of Eretz Israel in the political arena, whether Israel’s electorate leans more to the right or to the left.
The unmistakably rightist parties, the Likud, Yemina, New Hope, Yisrael Beytenu, religious Zionism and the haredi parties, number about 80 Knesset seats. The parties that define themselves as centrist, Yesh Atid and Blue and White, together number about 20 Knesset seats. The decidedly leftist parties, Labor and Meretz, number about 10 seats and the Arab parties number another approximately 10 seats.
The first figure presented here is the most dramatic. Eighty Knesset seats, an absolute and overwhelming majority of the citizens of Israel, wish to see Israel governed by a stable, solidly right-wing government, one whose leadership is guided by a nationalist philosophy committed to the values of the Land of Israel and Israel’s traditional Jewish identity. That is the clear and unwavering statement made by Israel’s democracy. However, in order to actualize the people’s will and choice, the leaders of the right-wing parties must internalize their public and democratic mission and work together for the sake of the values and ideology of the Land of Israel, and form a stable coalition based upon a broad national consensus.
In the years they were in power, the leaders of the right-wing parties brought about a series of steps welcomed by their members as part of the pursuit of sovereignty, identity and tradition. Former Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar bolstered the connection between Israel’s schoolchildren and their heritage when as Education Minister he introduced visits by schools to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented the creation of a Palestinian State under former president Barrack Obama’s hostile administration; as defense minister, Avigdor Liberman promoted the granting of building permits for thousands of housing units in Judea and Samaria; as defense minister, Naftali Bennett prevented the release of terrorists and discontinued various gestures made to benefit the Palestinian Authority; Bezalel Smotrich acted to amend the justice system – and these are just a few examples of many. Each of these party leaders and others in the rightist camp did much more to strengthen Israel, to advance sovereignty in practice and in terms of legislation and to strengthen Israel’s Jewish tradition and identity.
IT IS only natural for each party to seek to influence the new government’s basic guidelines and priorities. It is also understandable that each party will try to dictate tough terms before joining the coalition in order to accentuate the ideological and values-led nature of the next government. It is also reasonable to strive to replace a leader, but after all is said and done, they must all sit and serve in one government. That is the only way the leaders of the right can carry out the will of the people as expressed in the voting booth. Unless the rightist parties all join hands as part of a united and stable right-wing government, the citizens of Israel will be forced to go back to the polls over and over again, and Israel’s international standing as a strong and robust democracy will continue to deteriorate.
A stubborn refusal on the part of all the rightist parties to form a joint and united right-wing government will misrepresent the will of the electorate and bring about the formation of a Center-Left government. Such a government not only does not express the will of the people of Israel, but can be expected to lack a clear and determined ideological backbone in the face of the new administration in the White House and the pressure it is anticipated to exert on Israel’s government to withdraw, make concessions, gestures and political arrangements that could pose an existential threat to Israel’s future.
In the face of such pressure, which will likely receive firm European support and enthusiastic applause from Israel’s dwindling left, the people of Israel need a strong and robust nationalist government with a determined political vision that promotes the true and fundamental values of the national camp.
The war on the novel coronavirus and the effort to rebuild a strong and resilient economy are very important, but we must look far beyond that. The virus will eventually dissipate (hopefully soon) and Israel’s economy will be restored to its former strength, but disastrous policy decisions promoted by the left, should it reach the helm of Israel’s government only because of the right’s refusal to work together, could have critical and enduring consequences for Israel’s future and security. The leaders of the right-wing camp must understand the magnitude of the hour and the gravity of the responsibility on their shoulders and bring about the formation of a broad, strong and democratic government.
It’s perfectly legitimate for them to lock horns over which points to emphasize or prioritize. It’s only natural for them to endeavor to win the largest number of Knesset seats they can. But after Election Day, they must coalesce and strive to form an ideological partnership as part of a broad right-wing government.
The writers are cochairwomen of the Sovereignty Movement.