Now that the dust is settling on the lasted flair up in violence in Gaza the winners and losers are becoming a bit clearer. In all three cases; Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Territories (including Gaza) the so far winners are The Rightists in Israel, and Egypt as well as the conservative and proto-fascist Hamas movement. Of course there are other winners as well (the IDF, Israel's Missle Defense Systems, and President Obama, but those victories are much less far reaching for the time being), but the Right in each case came out of this one ahead.
First, let's start with the news of the day...The Winners in Israel.
In Israel, the Likud shed any of it's "moderate facade" and moved Hard Right.
PM Netanyahu votes with wife, Sara in Likud Primaries
After two days of voting, marred by technical problems and various complaints, the Likud primaries ended on Monday night with a clear win for the right-wing branch of the party.
Ministers Benny Begin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan were dealt a heavy blow by Likud members in the primary, with all three failing to make the top 10, which probably suggests the end of their long political careers.
Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar was the evening's big winner, together with ministers Gilad Erdan, Silvan Shalom and Yisrael Katz, who were followed by hardliner MK Danny Danon, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and the party's probable candidate for defense minister, ex military chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon. MKs Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin and Minister Yuli Edelstein close out the top 10 of the party's Knesset election list.
Begin was elected 20th on the slate, Meridor placed 28th and Eitan 30th, and were evidently punished by Likud members for their relatively "liberal" positions on issues such as the Supreme Court and freedom of dissent.So what does this mean... Well, first of all, in the Likud-Betainu agreement it means that Begin, Meriador, and Eitan are O-U-T. One might ask why, since Likud is projected to win 32-38 seats (according to the polls - many found here at Jeremy's Knesset Insider Blog). The reason is due to the agreement Betainu candidates get to place one seat for every two Likud seats earned. For Meriador or Eitan to get in, that list would have to garner a boatload more votes than they are getting now.
To break down the meaning here: Well one thing it means is that there is an unlikely chance at a deal that would look anything what has been discussed in years past with the Palestinians (Olmert, Taba, Oslo, etc... ) With Moshe Ya'alon as DM, Lieberman as FM and the rise of Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon, there is an even better liklihood of either total annexation of the West Bank OR The Netanyahu -Lieberman plan of Israel giving back 50% of the West Bank (which would not include J'slem or the Jordan River Valley). How Likud or Betainu will address the problems caused by this no one knows, but, it certainly would not be along the lines of past governments and would be harder right even then Arik Sharon's Kadima Party.
As one can see from the Poll results, the early lead goes to the Rightist parties 65-70 to 45-50 to the Center, Center-Left (not counting the Arab Parties and Hadash who would never be part of any coalition). While if one combines Avodah, Yesh Atid, Kadima (which right now is "dead in the water") and Tzipi Livni (wherever she may end up) the Center / Center Left can match Likud-Betainu BUT can not form a coalition that would get to the magic number of 61 Knesset seats.
NOW, even more disturbing than Feiglin and Danon occupying powerful positions (not too mention Sa'ar, and the Betainu crowd, is the total rise of a combined National Union, Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, coupled with N.U. breakaway and new home to Kahanists Michael Ben-Ari and Ariyeh Eldad in the "Strong Israel" party.
Of course, the Israeli election is still three months away and a lot can happen in those three months so no one can say that the future is written in stone A lot seems to depend on what Tzipi Livni does. But if she runs as an independent (caucusing with Labor and Y.A.) the government would be forced to ally itself the hardest of the hard right (assuming that Lapid remains true to his word and wouldn't join a Netanyahu - Lierberman government.
Now as many here know I am a supporter of the Israeli Center / Center-Left (particularly Avodah). So, let's hear what they had to say regarding this; (From Ynet)
Addressing the results, Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich said, "The list chosen, accompanied by (Avigdor) Lieberman's extremists who will be part of it, makes the Likud a radical right-wing party."
I think in this case Yair Lapid makes a good point in saying that if the Center parties remain strong... The hard Right will have a hard time governing, AND, if Yesh Atid is smart about it, they may go after folks like Begin, and Meriador and become a straight up Centrist party. Again that is not my particular cup of tea but I can see it's appeal and Israelis that I talk to I think would like that group.
Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On commented on the results of the Likud primaries, saying: "I see the Likud list and it makes me feel bad. We see how settlers have turned the Likud into a nationalistic, extremist rightwing list; how the liberal Likud has passed away today."
"Centrist parties must make a commitment not to join Netanyahu, who will form a radical rightwing government," Gal-On told Ynet.
The Yesh Atid Party, chaired by Yair Lapid, stated that "The Likud has presented a worrying list that revolves around 'old politics' deals and ideological extremism."
"This is no longer the Likud of Menachem Begin and national politics; whoever votes for the Likud-Beiteinu list will get a branch of the National Union Party," the Yesh Atid statement read.
There is a great deal at stake here and so we shall see as the campaigns get rolling. But as Likud moves hard Right this is going to present a very interesting challenge for the "soul" of Israel.