Trust the Israeli electorate to produce a surprising and acutely complicated electoral result, at the end of an exemplary, empowering exercise in democracy. Here are some quickfire pointers through the initial post-vote fog.
1. Israel did not move to the right
Remarkably, given the regional instability and consequent Israeli wariness, the right-wing bloc took a bit of a pasting. It’s a more hawkish right-wing bloc, but it’s a smaller one, somewhat less able to get its own way. Instead, Israel moved a little to the center, as exemplified by the remarkable debut of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. What does this mean for the big regional issues, and especially for interaction with the Palestinians? Well, that depends on the nature of the coalition. And for that, we may have to wait a while.
2. Netanyahu is battered but he’s still a winner… almost certainly, with some serious caveats
You go into national politics because you want to lead your nation. And once you’ve made it to prime minister, you go into your next elections in order to remain prime minister. That’s what Netanyahu has apparently managed, unless the soldiers’ votes and other final adjustments in the next couple of days improbably change the delicate Knesset arithmetic to his detriment. This despite Netanyahu not being particularly popular and being a very well-known quantity in an election where many voters plainly favored the fresh, inexperienced and unsullied candidates. Tuesday’s was a vote for change. Dozens upon dozens of sitting Knesset members were swept aside. But Netanyahu rolled with the wave, and here he is again.