Israel’s Centrist Victory

JERUSALEM – Israel’s election is a victory for centrism and national consensus. Indeed, that is the key to understanding not only the vote count, but also Israeli public opinion, the next government, and its policies.

From experience, most Israelis have developed a worldview that combines traditional left-wing and right-wing thinking. On one hand, they want to achieve a comprehensive political solution with the Palestinians based on creating a Palestinian state, in exchange for real, lasting peace. On the other hand, they understand that there is no Palestinian leadership strong or moderate enough to bring it about.

Both the left and the right have been proven wrong. The left offered big concessions and was ready to take high risks for the sake of peace. Yet there is no credible way to achieve an agreement with such radical forces as Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hezbollah, all of whom seek Israel’s destruction. The Palestinian Authority (PA) is less extreme, but its leadership is weak, doesn’t control Gaza, and is still full of hard-line elements.

This approach also lost credibility as a result of the rise of Hamas and its determination to wage permanent war on Israel; Iran’s expanding influence and nuclear weapons’ program; and the high – even rising – levels of hatred against Israel among Arabs and Muslims. In addition, the world didn’t reward Israel for making concessions and taking risks. Indeed, the more Israel gave, the more slander and hostility it faced in many sectors.