Looking to the future: The upcoming Israeli elections

There has been much drama leading up to the upcoming Israeli legislative election set to take place on April 9.

ANOTHER ROUND of elections is upon us (photo credit: REUTERS)
ANOTHER ROUND of elections is upon us
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There has been much drama leading up to the upcoming Israeli legislative election set to take place on April 9. Continuing investigations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are constantly in the media. The split of the Labor Party under the current leadership of Avi Gabbay from MK Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah Party shocked supporters from both parties. Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked departed from the Jewish Home Party and formed a party of their own called “The New Right.” The Joint List, which came third in the past elections, also split. Also, various newcomers to the political arena, such as former chiefs of staff Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon, entered their new parties into the race. However, what many people are not mentioning is barring a major upset or indictment of the prime minister, which I personally believe is highly unlikely, these elections look to bring the same result as previous ones, with an overwhelming Likud victory.
The only opportunity for any party to overtake Likud in the upcoming elections is forming a coalition of multiple parties in order to come within striking distance of the mandates that Netanyahu’s party is expected to receive, or that the Likud, in its effort to form a coalition, would be unable to meet the minimum number of mandates required. The most relevant contender to Likud in the previous election was the Labor and Hatnuah coalition known as the Zionist Union, but due to their recent split, they no longer register in the minds of voters as serious contenders to Likud. A recent Walla poll has the Likud taking 33 seats with Yesh Atid the closest contender, taking 15. Even if Yesh Atid forms a coalition with another party, it would still fall well short of Likud.
The egos of various politicians who are unwilling to break the mold and represent their constituents will continue moving Israel in its current trajectory, for better or for worse. Therefore, these elections are not only about the upcoming elections in 2019 but about those that follow it. There are questions about whether Netanyahu will run for re-election as prime minister and head of the Likud after this 2019 election. Many politicians mistakenly discuss the hot-button issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on their party’s agenda as if they have an ultimate solution to such a complex issue, but in fact, only children believe that all problems have solutions. While this is an issue that affects the lives of Israelis, other issues should be focused upon in order to gain votes and garner support among Israelis.
Key issues that should be discussed is how candidates will increase commerce in the country in order to boost economic human needs, as well as integrate all sectors of society into the economy. How can young Israelis and those living on modest paychecks each month afford to live in the country without having to go deep into debt? How will wages increase in specific sectors so that Israelis can afford to purchase a home for themselves and their families without taking out a huge mortgage that will take a lifetime to pay back to the banks? How will they find ways to integrate haredim and Israeli Arabs into the workforce and eventually have them take up what should be the duty of all citizens – serving in the IDF or National Service? How can the economy across all sectors expand so that the state will continue to grow in a positive trajectory? The main issue is how Israeli politicians will improve the lives of Israelis from all sectors, effectively integrating them into society in order to feel they are truly a part of Israel, while still safeguarding the values and morals that matter most to them.
Defense will always be a central pillar in the policy of the Israeli government regardless of who leads the country.
Politicians need to let go of their pride and consider who they represent in order to improve Israel as a whole. While there will be many articles and presentations in the media leading up to the elections, the parties should be considering what matters most to the people and acting upon it – both now and after the voting so that in the following elections several years from now, Israelis will be able to see who truly fought for the issues that matter to them and those who didn’t.
The writer is a former student of the National Security Studies Center at The University of Haifa who currently lives in Israel. He holds a MA in Political Science with a specialization in National Security and an additional MA in Child Development from the University of Haifa in Israel, as well as a BA in Psychology from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD.