CORNELL UNIVERSITY MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
March 3, 2020
Trapped in a draw, Israel on edge of semi-authoritarian abyss
Preliminary results from Israel’s election show that the country’s incumbent Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi), is maintaining a lead over his opponents. However, exit polls also suggest a difficult road ahead for Netanyahu’s Likud party who may not obtain enough votes to secure a parliamentary majority, required to form a government.
Uriel Abulof, a visiting professor in Cornell University’s Government Department and a senior lecturer of politics at Tel-Aviv University, says that Israel’s polarized politics are keeping the country trapped in a draw.
“Bibi lied his way to an electoral win, and Israeli democracy lost. But while headlines tell of Netanyahu’s victory, we should recall that the results are like those of about a year, and two elections, ago: about 60 seats for Bibi-supporters, about 60 for his opponents.
“Moreover, while in April 2019, Lieberman’s voters presumed he’ll go with Bibi, not so now. Israeli politics is thus again trapped in a draw, between two halves of roughly the same size, one fears and hates the other, bringing Israel’s democracy to the edge of a semi-authoritarian abyss. And if fear and hate won, hope lost – again.
“The center and left parties did not fail convincing Israelis of their riveting vision for the future – they didn’t even try. But hope is more tenacious than many give her credit for.”
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