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Why the struggle for free media in Israel-Palestine matters

We are witnessing the emergence of a new kind of media in Israel and Palestine — the kind that truly has the potential to transform how we see this place.

We are in the midst of an immense transformation in the media landscape. The way people communicate and consume information and knowledge is being fundamentally altered. It is hard to perceive the scope of this change, because it is still ongoing. The situation right now does not necessarily represent the end point of this process; we are at a rare moment: the future is still malleable, and we can mold it in a variety of shapes.

Technological advancements – the computer, internet, and cellular revolutions – are catalyzing this change, but they will not determine its form. On the one hand, technology allows new and small players to challenge even the mightiest corporations, distributing information and opinions which were not accessible to the broader audience in the past. On the other hand, they provide an opening for the creation of unprecedented global monopolies, such as Facebook and Google. The direction of the change in media field is ultimately up to us, the public. Will we be consumers, subjects or citizens?

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Within Israel, there is an open struggle for control of mass media. Israel’s most popular daily, Israel Hayom, was established as a right-wing, pro-Netanyahu mouthpiece. Recent investigations have uncovered talks between the Prime Minister and the publisher of the second most popular daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, about exchanging positive coverage for protection from Israel Hayom’s competition. On yet another front, Netanyahu is seeking to undermine Israel’s Public Broadcasting Corporation, as well as other mainstream media outlets that are not to his liking, as part of his effort to block criticism of him or his government.

All of these are major developments, but to a great extent, this is a battle over a declining field, as it is taking place in the arena of “old” media, which is headed for extinction. Even successful news sites, from Ynet in Israel to the New York Times, still rely on outdated models of subscriptions and advertising. We must not let these media organs, which still serve the majority...

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Arab citizens, not Israeli leftists, pay the real price for speaking out

The Israeli government may be cracking down on human rights NGOs and left-wing activists, but Palestinians citizens of Israel are the ones suffering from concrete persecution — with sometimes fatal results.

The recently-passed law prohibiting the entry of boycott supporters into Israel is just the latest in a string of legislation and administrative measures aimed at curtailing freedoms and cracking down on dissent against the occupation. But this broad trend actually obscures two separate phenomena, with distinct dynamics and implications.

The first one is the ongoing oppression of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Although better off than the non-citizens in the West Bank and Gaza, this minority has long suffered discrimination and mistreatment at the hands of Israeli authorities. Unfair budgeting and planning, land confiscations, surveillance and political suppression, even outright state violence, are some of the methods used to marginalize almost a fifth of the country’s population. While the level of mistreatment ebbs and flows — sometimes in response to political or cultural assertion by Palestinian citizens — its fundamental nature remains the same.

The second phenomenon, which has developed more recently, is the targeting of mainly Jewish dissenters from civil society, academia and the arts. Ironically, this trend was pioneered from within civil society itself, by groups such as NGO Monitor, Israel Academia Monitor, and Im Tirzu, who have initiated public campaigns to demonize human rights organizations and university professors critical of the occupation. Soon enough, however, they were joined by legislators and the government. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) has been tracking this issue, including several laws that passed, dozens that have been proposed, numerous administrative measures, and numerous statements by government officials.

These two phenomena are interlinked and often overlap, but they are very clearly distinguished in their scope and actual effect. Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer concrete persecution, with sometimes fatal results. Jewish dissenters have been maligned and intimidated, but so far, have suffered much more limited material consequences.

In fact, these two crackdowns appear to serve different ends. Moves against Palestinian citizens are aimed at keeping them down and maintaining Jewish privilege. Palestinians are seen as a significant threat which needs to be contained, and treated as such. Jewish dissenters, on the other hand, are mainly targeted as a way of grandstanding for the right-wing public, with the marginal benefit of causing distress and sowing fear among them....

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Trump and Netanyahu are allies in a losing battle

Both the American and Israeli governments reek of paranoia, fear, and desperation. The struggle against them must begin with the knowledge that we are opposing a desperate and fearful group.

By all accounts, the new administration in the U.S., and the veteran one in Israel should be relaxing and enjoying the heights of power they have attained. Both are facing a weakened opposition while tightening their control on the executive, legislative, and judicial branches in their respective countries. They have done so in the face of frequent predictions of their impending demise, while making few concessions to their critics.

In a certain sense, that appears to be exactly what they are doing — implementing an unapologetically xenophobic agenda in foreign and domestic policy arenas. But if you listen to the tone that characterizes their conduct, a different impression emerges. Both the U.S. and Israeli administrations seem prickly and sensitive, easily rattled by any challenge, overreacting to even the smallest slight.

To some extent, this reflects the character of the leaders in question, more so with Trump who is a truly unusual president, than with Israel’s Netanyahu, who is more of a conventional politician. Yet leaders reflect the political systems that give them power, and rely on the cooperation and consent of many other actors.

This is clearly on display when the Jerusalem municipality attempts to shut down public facilities that provide a platform for dissidents; or when the Senate majority leader hypocritically uses arcane rules to shut down a woman senator’s condemnation of one of Trump’s nominees. Neither of these incidents, at least as far as we know, had anything to do with the American president or Israeli prime minister. What they do have in common, along with many other actions taken by these two administrations and their allies, is their counter-productive effect from a purely instrumental perspective.

By acting in a highly visible and clumsy way to shut down opposition, the ruling parties in both countries are giving far more platform and stature to that opposition than it would otherwise enjoy. And they are not just ham-handed — they are also sloppy and disorganized. This was evident with both Trump’s executive order banning nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, and the new Israeli law retroactively legalizing the theft of privately-owned Palestinian land in the West Bank. Both of these policy moves were crafted in a manner sure to...

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A most determined occupation and its cursed victory

It is not momentum or errors or personality quirks which have sustained the occupation, but a clear determination by Israel’s elite to maintain control of the West Bank and Gaza. Those who are willing to openly examine how Israel – and the pre-state Zionist Jewish community in the Holy Land – conducted itself prior to 1967, can only view the occupation as part of a natural continuum.

Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories. By Ahron Bregman. Allen Lane; 416 pages; £25.

I received my copy of Cursed Victory – Ahron Bregman’s history of the occupation – on the very first day rockets were fired on Tel Aviv during the latest Gaza war. It was one of those rare moments when the reality of the occupation intruded into my daily life, because like most Israelis, most of the time, I am largely sheltered from its pernicious effect.

The same cannot be said for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The occupation shapes every aspect of mundane existence in their cities, towns and villages. This asymmetry of experience, added to the inherent asymmetry of power between the Palestinians and Israel, is reflected in each side’s views, perceptions and politics.

'Cursed Victory'For Israelis, the occupation is mainly a subject for negotiations in the halls of power. If they think about it at all, they think about positions to be defended in talks and diplomatic discussions, about the terms of agreements and political maneuvering for advantage. Palestinians consider all of these things, of course, but for them, the occupation encompasses everything else as well: access to water and power, urban planning, economic development, education. There is no rhythm of life that is not interrupted by Israel’s control, no public policy issue that is not overshadowed by it.

Cursed Victory reflects this asymmetry, as would any factually accurate account of the issue. But Bregman’s history does not address or analyze this massive imbalance, and this is its greatest flaw. Indeed, as the narrative progresses, despite being highly critical of the occupation and Israel’s policies, it increasingly adopts the Israeli viewpoint (at least, its center-left version) and as a result, critical aspects of the story are missed.

In his introduction, Bregman writes:

The book delivers on both...

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Putting a halt to the 'assembly line' of Palestinian prisoners

Rather than arguing over the ‘gestures’ of releasing long-term prisoners, Israel must use restraint during arrests in the West Bank, while ensuring fair and swift procedures in the military courts.

(Translated by Ofer Neiman)

One of the main factors behind the failure of the recent round of Israeli-Palestinian talks was Israel’s decision to cancel the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, which had been agreed upon as a goodwill gesture to the Palestinian Authority. The issue of prisoner release, whether in the framework of negotiations or in the framework of prisoner exchange deals, touches on very strong sentiments on both sides. For the Palestinians, the prisoners are members of their own people being held by a foreign occupier. For many Israelis, the prisoners are “bad people,” responsible for killing and injuring Israeli soldiers and Jewish citizens.

The release of prisoners, perceived by one side as the redemption of captives, is perceived by the other as gross injustice and even as a threat to one’s life. Accordingly, Palestinians have regarded the cancellation as sufficient grounds for terminating the talks; while in Israel previous rounds of prisoner release have brought about waves of protest and condemnation, culminating in a controversial bill aimed at preempting the future release of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment.

Criminalizing an entire people

Negotiations on the issue of Palestinian prisoners tend to focus on a certain group of prisoners – those sentenced to lengthy terms, usually on the basis of convictions of grievous violence (the validity of these convictions and/or the gravity of the offenses are a bone of contention). All 78 prisoners released so far as part of gestures for the promotion of the talks in 2013 – 2014 belonged to this group (and the same holds for the 26 whose release was cancelled). Of 1,027 prisoners released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal in 2011, 434 had been sentenced to at least 20 years (including 275 cases of life imprisonment) – and this group was the focus of negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Focusing on the aforementioned prisoners is only natural. They are the ones who have spent, or are expected to spend, a long period behind bars. They are also those who have been convicted by Israel’s military justice system of what it sees as grave offenses.

IN PHOTOS: Palestinian prisoners, supporters struggle for freedom

However, one should recall that this...

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Why BDS won't work, and what can

Those who care about ending the occupation, in Israel and outside it, are faced with real, difficult choices. I believe these choices matter. That is why I oppose BDS.          

Larry Derfner’s recent article in support of BDS is well-written, passionately argued and compelling. Nonetheless, I find myself in strong disagreement with its key assertions and conclusions.

As I see it, the article rests on the following argument: first, the evacuation of settlements necessary to end the occupation would be very difficult for Israel. Second, Israelis do not currently incur any significant cost for the continuation of the occupation. Third, the only way to make Israelis pay that cost is by supporting some version of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), at least on the settlements themselves.

I find all three statements unconvincing, and will address each in turn.

The settlers are paper tigers

Larry rightly points out that it is impossible to envisage an end to the occupation without extensive settlement evacuation. But I believe he errs when stating that the “specter of the sort of cataclysm that would be triggered [if there is major settlement evacuation] is enough to stop any government from touching it.” Why would there be such a cataclysm? Because the ideological core of the settlers are “fearsome,” they (and the right) would engage in “rebellion” which could lead to “bloodshed” and turn the country “upside down.”

Read: After Kerry, only BDS may save the two-state solution

Will resistance be so fierce and costly? Larry points to past experience with evacuations, in the Sinai and Gaza Strip (he doesn’t mention that a handful of small settlements in the West Bank were also removed as part of the Gaza disengagement plan). These evacuations affected a relatively moderate branch of the settlement movement, a small number of people, and areas that were (largely) outside the scope of the “Greater Israel” project and of lower ideological valence. Yet they were accompanied by significant upheaval, protest and turmoil, including some (non-lethal) violence.

It makes sense to conclude that evacuating a much larger mass of far more extreme settlers from the areas perceived as most valuable and sacred would indeed be “cataclysmic.” But such a scenario would go against everything we have learned about the ideological settlers and the extreme right since the occupation began, and...

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Israel's economy has problems, but a bubble ain't one

The concern sparked by claims of an economic bubble in Israel are not supported by data, and could lead to a harmful consequences if interest rates rise and exchange rates are adversely affected. A response to Jesse Colombo in Forbes.

In an article recently published on, Jesse Colombo argues that “Israel’s economic boom is not the miracle that it appears to be, but is actually another bubble that is similar to those that caused the financial crisis.” The article has been widely cited, both in Israel and abroad.

Worrying about an economic bubble neatly dovetails with Israelis’ characteristic eschatological anxiety, but in this case, it is baseless. Despite its many problems, Israel’s economy is not a bubble. It is an idea that must be refuted, because if it becomes of a part of conventional wisdom, it could lead to bad economic policy. Specifically, it could pressure the Bank of Israel (BoI) to raise interest rates and strengthen the shekel (Israel’s currency), plunging the economy into recession.

Israel is not the U.S.

Colombo asserts that in recent years, an economic bubble was inflated as a result of large capital inflows, that have strengthened the shekel. The BoI has struggled to block the shekel’s rise, by purchasing U.S. dollars and reducing interest rates. According to Colombo, this has caused rising inflation and property price bubbles.

On inflation, Colombo is simply mistaken. Inflation in Israel has actually fallen considerably. On property prices, the picture is more complex. Housing prices have gone sharply up, and they are currently above their long-term equilibrium level. But the trend is much less extreme than Colombo’s presentation implies. And he proceeds from this exaggeration to develop claims which are wholly unfounded.

According to Colombo’s narrative, future interest rate rises will cause many households to struggle with ballooning, unaffordable mortgage payments. Many families will go bankrupt and banks’ stability will be jeopardized. The shock to the financial system and housing market, combined with reduced consumption by struggling households, will bring about a severe recession. To support this narrative, Colombo points to similar dynamics which unfolded in the recent U.S. economic and financial crisis in 2008-2009.

However, the current situation in Israel is completely different from pre-crisis US. In some aspects, opposite conditions prevail.

In the U.S., the rise in housing prices was fueled...

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Getting the facts straight on law enforcement in the West Bank

Law enforcement in the West Bank is a complex topic. Those who attempt to analyze it better get the background right.

In his recent piece for the new, explanatory journalism website Vox, Zack Beauchamp attempts to analyze some figures on law enforcement in the West Bank, obtained by The Associated Press. He divides the number of arrests of Israeli citizens and Palestinians in the occupied territory by the size of each population, and reaches a surprising outcome: it is Israelis that are more frequently arrested than Palestinians, not vice versa. To his credit, he does point out that “[i]t’s unlikely that Israel police are discriminating against Israelis and in favor of Palestinians.” Instead, he offers some tentative alternative explanations.

However, there is no need for speculation, because there is no mystery to be solved; the calculation is flawed, as it ignores some basic facts about law enforcement in the West Bank.

The most important fact overlooked in the article is that the Israel Police, which provided the figures, does not investigate crimes committed by Palestinians against other Palestinians. These investigations are carried out by the Palestinian Authority. On the other hand, the Israel Police investigates all crimes committed by Israelis in the West Bank, regardless of the nationality of the victim. It is only natural then, that Israelis will be massively overrepresented in its arrest statistics. This overrepresentation is exacerbated by the fact that many crimes committed by Palestinians against Israelis are also investigated by the Palestinian Authority, depending on the nature of the crime and the residence of the perpetrator.

Second, Beauchamp seems to have missed the fact that the figures provided to AP are solely about minors. Admittedly, AP does not do a good job of highlighting this distinction, but it does mention it twice in the same short piece. Why does it matter? Because until October 2010, Israel defined the age of minority differently for Israelis and Palestinians. For the former, it was up to the age of 18, for the latter it ended at 16. The figures provided by the Israel Police are for 2008-2013, and it is unclear which definition the police used. Knowing their record-keeping practices, I would venture to guess it is based on a chaotic mix of both definitions.

The distinction between adults and minors is critical for another reason. Adult Palestinians come face-to-face with Israeli authorities in two...

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Will surprising results stop a status-quo Netanyahu-led government?

Despite the surprising weakness of the Right-ultra-Orthodox bloc, the final result of the elections, according to exit polls, is still likely to be a status-quo Netanyahu-led government. Why? Because the big winner in this election, media personality Yair Lapid, is a vapid centrist who is likely to join Netanyahu’s coalition and make little noise on policy — either on Israel-Palestine, or any other topic

The exit-poll results are in, and Noam has an excellent summary of the headline figures. A lot of the attention, as actual results pour in through the night, will be focused on the balance between the blocs. The common wisdom, based on the polls, was that the Right and the ultra-Orthodox will have something between 64-67 (of 120) seats in the Knesset – a solid majority that was supposed to strengthen Netanyahu’s hand in coalition negotiations.

According to the exit polls, that bloc is actually 61-62 seats, bringing it perilously close to losing its majority. This is a surprising result, especially in light of very low voter turnout among Israeli-Palestinian citizens, who rarely vote for the Right. Yet even if the Right and ultra-Orthodox fall to 60 or slightly below, the outcome might be disappointingly similar to what everyone assumed: a Netanyahu-led government, incorporating some centrist parties.

The basic problem is that the Jewish-Zionist parties of the “Left” or “Center” have never been willing to form a coalition with the non-Zionist Arab parties, or even form a minority coalition relying on their votes. Without the Arab parties, there is no chance that the Center-Left can form a government on its own. That automatically weakens its hand in coalition negotiations.

Furthermore, the Jewish-Zionist Center-Left is currently splintered into two major parties (Labor and Yesh Atid, with 17-19 seats each, according to exit polls) and two smaller parties (Meretz and Hatnua, with 6-7 each, according to the exits). Netanyahu can pick off parts of this bloc at his convenience.

The task is made easier by the most surprising result indicated by the exit polls: the rise of Yesh Atid to become second-largest party after Likud-Beitenu. Yesh Atid is a new party, headed by Yair Lapid, a media personality and the son of late journalist and politician Yosef Lapid, who led a similar party to similar results in elections that took place less than a decade ago. As its name suggests (it means “there is a future” in...

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Israel's major parties support a non-democratic one-state solution

No matter what their beliefs about Palestinians’ aims and desires, the policy of Israel’s leaders does not accord with their stated support for a two-state solution or for a democratic and Jewish state.

Following up on my post regarding the two-state solution (and some of the comments to that post), I would like to put forth a more general and formal version of my argument.

Let’s say that you are stridently opposed to the idea of one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean – one that would be undemocratic, and based on the explicit, formal and institutionalized supremacy of the (soon-to-be) Jewish minority within such a state. Let’s also say that you reject a democratic and egalitarian one-state solution, which would not – in your opinion – be compatible with the Jewish right for national self-determination. What do you do?

That depends on your assessment regarding the Palestinian position. As I see it, there are three possibilities for understanding the Palestinians’ stand.

First, you may believe that the Palestinians will reject any solution in which the state of Israel continues to exist in anything resembling its current form. If that is what you think, the solution is clear: dismantle the vast majority of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and retreat to lines of contiguous Israeli territory.

Such a solution would be good for security, as it does not constrict the IDF’s operational leeway in any way, and indeed it would release precious resources currently directed to defending these settlements. It would show the world Israel is committed to a reasonable solution, and would allow the country to retain both its Jewish and (formally) democratic character. Even the economic cost would be limited, as not all that many settlers live in those isolated settlements. It would entail a political rift with the hard right, but then again, the hard right supports a non-democratic one-state solution, so it is hard to see how friction with it can be avoided, if you stick to your own positions.

Second, you may believe that the Palestinians will only accept a solution in which they get 98 percent of West Bank. In this case, you will just give them what they want. You get to avoid the one-state non-democratic nightmare you are so concerned about, peace with the Palestinians, and widespread international support, probably covering most of the cost of this mass...

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In controversy over Peres remarks, Israeli 'center-left' pays lip service to two-state solution

The recent controversy over remarks made by President Peres regarding negotiations with Palestinians exposes how the ‘center-left’ pays lip service to the two-state solution, while still preferring a one-state solution with Jewish supremacy.

During the current election campaign, two of the most popular party leaders identified with the center-left have done almost everything in their power to avoid saying anything left-sounding on the Palestinian topic. Yair Lapid, leader (and personification) of Yesh Atid, and Shelly Yechimovitch, head of the Labor party, have often tried to position themselves to the right of this issue (Yachimovitch saying nice things about settlements, Lapid opposing division of Jerusalem and favoring a free hand for the IDF).

Three weeks before the elections, the past few days have witnessed a rare break in this trend. The occasion was a speech by the supposedly non-political head of state, President Shimon Peres, before Israeli ambassadors to foreign nations. Peres presented his well-known position, that the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is willing and able to make the concessions necessary for an agreement on a two-state solution with Israel. He criticized statements to the contrary, made by Prime Minister Netanyahu and former Foreign Minister Lieberman (both of the Likud-Beitenu party).

His message apparently resonated with the audience who, later in the same conference, complained that defending Israel abroad is made more difficult by the government’s intransigent positions and actions (a point reaffirmed by a recent think tank report). They were promptly told by Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror to keep their opinions to themselves or resign and run for political office.

The president got only a slightly milder treatment. Likud-Beitenu issued a statement expressing disappointment in the president, blasting him for being “disconnected,” causing damage to Israel’s image abroad, and calling Abbas a “peace refusenik.”

Lapid and Yachimovitch could have settled for defending the popular president, an octogenarian who in two-thirds of a century of political activity has gone from defense-establishment hawk to hated symbol of the left to quintessential consensus figure and elder statesman. Instead, they both chose to combine their spirited rejection of the attacks on Peres with a relatively strong defense of the two-state solution, arguing that it is the only Zionist solution with a national consensus behind it.

The latter point is confirmed by a recent poll, showing a majority support for a two-state solution – including the...

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Israeli minister aptly compares Ariel settlement with Falklands

Last Tuesday, it became official: the IDF (following approval from Defense Minister Barak) recognized the academic center in the settlement of Ariel as a full-fledged university. International condemnation soon followed. A UK minister, for instance, expressed disappointment regarding Israel’s decision, and labeled it an obstacle to peace.

In response, Israeli Education Minister Gideon Saar (Likud) argued that “[o]ur connection to Ariel is at least as strong as the UK’s connection to the Falkland Islands.” This comparison is quite apt because Ariel, like the Falklands, is the product of a colonial enterprise, meant to place a metropolitan population amidst a weaker people.

Furthermore, Ariel and the Falklands are both islands. Whereas the Falklands are surrounded by an ocean of water, Ariel is surrounded by Palestinians. It is at the very heart of the West Bank with very little geographic contiguity with Jewish areas of residence inside the Green Line, or even with other settlements in the West Bank. That is why any map that attempts to include it as part of Israel within a two-state solution ends up looking like it was drawn by a cubist painter.

There are distinctions, of course. Most importantly, the other claimant for sovereignty over the Falklands – Argentina – is a sovereign and independent nation. The Palestinians, who have been uprooted to make room for Ariel, are a stateless people living on lands inhabited by them for generations, kept in this position by the very Israeli power that founded and recognized the “university” in Ariel.

Perhaps the most revealing part of this comparison is that Saar, like many of my compatriots, probably sees very little difference between the actual human beings that surround Ariel and want it gone, and the indifferent seawater that surround the Falklands on every side. That might be a greater obstacle to peace than the settlement itself.


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Putting together Netanyahu's next coalition might be trickier than it seems

Netanyahu will continue to serve as prime minister after the upcoming elections, but putting together a governing coalition will have significant long-term implications.

The headline result of the upcoming elections in Israel, as Noam Sheizaf has thoroughly documented, is not in doubt. Benjamin Netanyahu will continue as Israel’s prime minister for another term, and will strive to maintain his policy of status quo in every area of policy.

Nonetheless, there are at least two aspects of uncertainty in these elections. First, the potential for more significant changes in areas not related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (such as economic policy or secular-religious relations). Second, these election results could shape the dynamics of the following elections, in which a different outcome is certainly possible (especially considering the incredible volatility of Israeli politics over the past two decades).

To understand these elements of uncertainty, one must examine the different scenarios for post-elections coalition formation. Netanyahu will win, but like all of Israel’s previous prime ministers, his party will not have enough seats to form a government on its own.

The most natural composition of a Likud-led coalition would be what Noam has labeled the right-Orthodox bloc, which will almost certainly hold a majority in the next Knesset. Netanyahu has been reluctant to rely on this formation exclusively, which has brought him down for the slightest of compromises in his first premiership in the 1990s. But having this option would strengthen his hand in discussions with other potential partners.

Right now, the greatest threat for this scenario comes from two tiny parties, struggling to gain enough votes to reach the threshold necessary to get seats in the Knesset.

Am Shalem is an unconventional and hard-to-classify party, a splinter of the ultra-orthodox Shas party, which is nonetheless running hard against current ultra-Orthodox leadership, arguing for modernization in this community. It is likely to draw the majority of its votes from the right-Orthodox bloc, yet it is hard to envisage its participation in a coalition which includes the very parties it is running against.

The second tiny party is Otzma LeYisrael, a far-right party. It will take all its votes from the right-Orthodox block, but its prospects of joining the coalition are unclear. Netanyahu might balk at relying on such rabid extremists, and they could actually prefer the opposition, where they would not be tainted by compromise and could snipe at their slightly-less-hard-right colleagues...

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