Why did India vote against Israel?

Middle East conflict

Ephraim Inbar

To person

Prof., Ph.D .; born 1947; Director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan / Israel 52900.
Email: [email protected]

Prime Minister Netanyahu is establishing himself as a successful center politician. He tries to solve challenges like the Iranian nuclear program or the deadlock in the peace process.


On February 10, 2009, a new parliament was elected in Israel. The most remarkable result is the emergence of a new political landscape: the three largest parties in the Knesset are the Likud with 27 seats and two of its offshoots, the center party Kadima with 28 and Israel Beitenu ("Our House of Israel") with 15 seats. Thus a clear majority of 70 seats (out of a total of 120) was occupied by Conservatives. This made Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) the election winner and new prime minister. The Labor Party was only the fourth largest party with 13 seats. Meretz, on the left of the Labor Party, received only three seats. These elections show how much the so-called "peace camp" is marginalized in Israeli society and how clearly conservative the zeitgeist in Israel is today.

Netanyahu achieved a coalition of Likud, Israel Beitenu, Shas (11 seats) and the Labor Party. Although the latter, chaired by Ehud Barak, the current defense minister, is relatively weak and divided, it is an important partner in the governing coalition. Because their participation helps to convey the image of a government of national unity. Netanyahu is therefore trying to maintain the coalition with the Labor Party.

After US President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu felt it was his duty to both respond to the US President's speech and to address Israeli society. In his subsequent speech at the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies on June 14, 2009, he was able to successfully define a new Israeli consensus and present himself as a middle-class politician. 71 percent of Israelis agreed with Netanyahu's remarks - a real feat for an Israeli prime minister. [1] In his speech, Netanyahu underlined the historical right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel (Palestine) and rejected Obama's interpretation that the Holocaust was the legitimation of the Jewish state. He stressed that the existence of a Jewish state as a refuge for the Jews persecuted by the Nazis would have prevented the Holocaust.

Despite the historical claim to the land, Netanyahu, like the majority of Israelis, is ready to reach a territorial compromise with the Palestinians (two-state solution). But Netanyahu's willingness to recognize a Palestinian state is conditional. His call for a demilitarized state reflects the Israelis' deep-seated fears of their neighbors. He calls for the long overdue recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state, insists on Jerusalem as the undivided capital, in line with the prevailing opinion in Israel, and rejects a complete freeze on construction of the settlements.

With this speech, Netanyahu hit the nerve of the political center of Israel: The opinion ruling in the country - also among the hawks in Netanyahu's party - fluctuates between the willingness to make territorial concessions and enormous skepticism about the Palestinian ability to compromise with the Zionist To be able to close and implement movement. The Israelis' greatest concern is the extent to which the Palestinians are addressing Israeli security needs. Even the hawks within the conservative Likud support the ten-month construction freeze in the settlements in Judea and Samaria, which was announced on November 25, 2009 - presumably on the assumption that the construction freeze would avoid a rift with the key ally, the USA.

By positioning himself within the political center, Netanyahu stabilized the ruling coalition and at the same time retained both the political flexibility to seize opportunities in the peace process and the size necessary to lead Israel through this protracted conflict.

Netanyahu's mid-course also increases the likelihood of weathering potential tensions with Washington. Because from the perspective of Jerusalem, US President Obama looks like a political newcomer with little understanding of world political issues, while Netanyahu in Israel is perceived more and more as a responsible prime minister. In the event of a dispute, the majority of Israelis would be more likely to vote for the popular Netanyahu than for Obama. Compared to his first term as prime minister (1996-99), Netanyahu is now showing more political acumen. He is generally more prudent, less rude towards political opponents and more flexible towards partners. He is also more patient and less impulsive when dealing with the media. This more mature behavior helps him hold his coalition together.