08:37 GMT +321 January 2020
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    With less than 24 hours left before Israel's parliament, the Knesset, dissolves itself, triggering another round of general elections, a third in just one year, Israeli politicians are already laying the grounds for their upcoming campaigns. 

    For the right-wing block, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it is a battle of survival, as remaining in power would protect him from a potential trial in bribery charges. For the left - it is a chance to get rid of Netanyahu and his hawkish government and take Israel towards a more liberal path.

    But Daniel Ben Simon, a former member of the Israeli Parliament from the Labour party, considered left in Israel, says the difference between the two camps has deeper roots.

    Gap in visions

    "The battle is between those who see themselves as Jewish, meaning having stronger ties to the Jewish heritage and those who feel more Israeli, meaning liberal and universal. Also, the way the two sides see the conflict is different. While the left believes peace can be achieved, the right is more sceptical," he said over the phone.

    Either way, Israel is divided. A new survey conducted by Walla news reveals that the left-wing block creates a gap with the right-wing camp leading with 60 seats in Israel's 120-seat parliament.

    At the same time, the 60-seat strong block has an element - the Blue and White party of Netanyahu's rival Benny Gantz - that has nothing to do with the left. 

    According to the same survey, the party is projected to get 37 seats if elections do take place. 

    "Gantz is no different than Netanyahu," said Ben Simon referring to Netanyahu's pre-election promise that he would annex the Jordan Valley that houses 65 thousand Palestinians and 11 thousand settlers, a move that angered Palestinians but backed by Gantz.

    The past glory

    Without the 37 seats of the Blue and White, the left - that comprises of Meretz, Labour and the Joint Arab List parties - stands at 23 seats, a significantly lower achievement, compared to the left block's past glory, and previously held 56 seats in 1969.

    A man walks by election campaign billboards showing Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu, left, alongside the Blue and White party leaders, from left to right, Moshe Yaalon, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, April 7, 2019. Hebrew on billboards reads, left Strong Likud strong Israel on the right Every vote matters, win Blue and White. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
    © AP Photo / Oded Balilty
    A man walks by election campaign billboards showing Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Likud party Benjamin Netanyahu, left, alongside the Blue and White party leaders, from left to right, Moshe Yaalon, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, April 7, 2019. Hebrew on billboards reads, left "Strong Likud strong Israel" on the right "Every vote matters, win Blue and White". (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

    Labour, or Mapai, as it was called in its previous reincarnation, was the party that established the Jewish state and a party that ruled it for nearly three decades until 1977, leading Israel through its major wars.

    Having social-democratic roots, it worked towards establishing a better and juster society for all Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike. It thus enjoyed sweeping support among various groups and sectors. 

    The painful fall

    But a series of inner struggles and corruption on the part of its key players shattered its reputation, giving a chance to other parties to lift their heads. Likud, under then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, was one of them. In 1977 it made headlines when it won the elections and established its control over the Israeli parliament.

    While the new right-wing government signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 and dropped social-democratic aspirations opting for a more capitalistic approach, the left-wing Labour continued to sink.

    One of the reasons for the fall was the Oslo Accords of 1993. According to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the five years since Oslo, Palestinian militants had killed more Israeli civilians than in the15 years prior to the pact, that aimed to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The report also suggested that the Israeli death toll after the agreement was 50 per cent higher than during the Second Intifada (the mass Palestinian uprising ) of 2000.

    Another reason was the lack of a strong political leader that could pose a challenge to the charismatic leaders of the right. In his article in Israel's Globes, Roni Ramon, a media advisor and the man who managed the Labour campaign in 2006, says Benny Gantz doesn't present a real alternative. 

    "Gantz is not a leader that can carry away masses. He is rather a default choice, not somebody who can compete with Netanyahu. The left needs to come up with a leader whose personality would be able to bite off a good chunk of the right-wing votes and bring them to the left," he explained.

    Yet, finding a leader won't be enough to stay afloat, believes Eitan Kabel, another parliamentarian of Labour. Instead, the left-wing will need to prove to the Israeli public that they are relevant and that the right-wing support for a one-state solution and expansion of settlement activity will not solve the conflict but will bring it to a low ebb.

    "The alternative that we presented to the voters became irrelevant in the 21st century. We failed to convince Israelis that the biggest damage for the country would be to become a two-nation state that has an Arab majority. This will eventually lead to the situation where we will find ourselves living in a non-democratic, non-Jewish, or even worse non-democratic AND non-Jewish state," he wrote in Globes.

    From 1967 to 2017 Israel has established more than 200 settlements in the West Bank, giving a home to 620 thousand settlers.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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