Monday, November 03, 2008

Knesset Elections 2009 - Early Trends

Foreign Minister and Kadima chairwoman Tsipi Livni is no longer wasting time on Ehud Barak. She is interpreting the election campaign as fight between her and Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu (English, Hebrew). Having watched the Likud gain several high-profile additions from the right these past few days, Livni went on the attack. She challenged Netanyahu and his supporters to formulate a platform with a vision of the future rather than a series of negations - no to negotiatons, no to territorial concessions, no to a Palestinian state. 

If Livni proves able to stay on the offensive, to challenge Netanyahu to present his own plan for securing Israel's safety and prosperity in the long-term, the Israeli public might ultimately side with her. The truth is that Israel's democratic right has no vision. It offers no solutions to the current impasse, other than a continuation of the status quo, with which most Israelis (rightly or wrongly) are deeply unsatisfied. 

Of course, "creative" policy proposals are plenty on the anti-democratic right, which believes that peace can be achieved by offering the Palestinians a menu of delectable choices, ranging from  forced expulsion, to voluntary transfer, to second-class citizenship. Even someone as cynical as Netanyahu, however, is unlikely to embrace such policy proposals.  He will be hard-pressed to devise a clear and plausible policy sufficiently different from Livni's for centrist voters to choose him over her.

Ehud Barak, in the meantime, is pursuing the bankrupt strategy that has bedeviled  the Labor Party since the end of Barak's last government. His political games are squeezing out the vision and experience that the party's committed parliamentarians and ex-ministers could bring to the art of government. Unless he changes tack, Barak will lead his party to the impotence predicted by current polls.  If they become too fed up, those on the left of the party may join Meretz, while those on the right will jockey for positions in Kadima.

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