Disastrous Showing in Israel Election Throws Right Wing Into Turmoil

Listless Netanyahu Barely Got in Gear Until Election Day

Power Pair? His alliance with Avigdor Lieberman’s party was supposed to give Benjamin Netanyahu an easy path to victory. It turned out to be a flop — and both may pay big price.
getty images
Power Pair? His alliance with Avigdor Lieberman’s party was supposed to give Benjamin Netanyahu an easy path to victory. It turned out to be a flop — and both may pay big price.

By Reuters

Published January 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

“It was very tense,” said a party member with knowledge of the gathering. “They finally realised it could all unravel.”

It held together, in the end, but the “victory” celebration at Likud’s cavernous Tel Aviv campaign headquarters was a sombre affair. Only a few hundred loyalists turned up, with loud bickering flaring over who or what to blame for the setback.

STROKE OF GENIUS?

Some openly questioned the wisdom of the union with Yisrael Beitenu, whose brash Soviet-born leader, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, alienated some Likud rank-and-file.

Likud stalwart Tzachi Hanegbi defended the alliance as “a genius thing to do, even though we lost some members” because it guaranteed Netanyahu the premiership by co-opting a major rival.

But Hanegbi told Reuters their apparent pre-election confidence appeared to have persuaded some Likud voters that they could safely shift support to Yesh Atid without jeopardising Netanyahu’s chances of remaining prime minister.

Describing Lapid as “secular, new, fresh,” Hanegbi conceded: “It is now going to be more difficult for us to establish a government.”

Doron Attias, a Likud Central Committee member, said the party had also lost votes rightward - to another political upstart, Naftali Bennett of the pro-settler, religious-nationalist Jewish Home, which came fourth in the ballot.

“I’m angry and I’m hurt,” Attias said, accusing settlers of betraying Netanyahu, who has expanded Jewish settlements across the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem - land the Palestinians demand for a future independent state.

“I think we should stop investing in Judea and Samaria,” Attias said, using the Biblical term for the West Bank.

Yet Netanyahu might himself have contributed to the Likud defections by accusing Bennett, an elite army commander, of encouraging insubordination after he voiced reluctance to take part in any future evacuations of West Bank settlements.

Likud campaigners also denounced the more radical views of some on the Jewish Home list - attacks that allowed Bennett to portray himself as victim of an electoral mugging.

“The attack pushed religious voters from the Likud to Bennett, and it pushed young right-wing, but non-religious voters, away from Bennett into Lapids arms,” wrote Nahum Barnea in the biggest-selling Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Few Likud supporters criticised Netanyahu openly in the wake of their dismal showing - a reflection of the party’s tradition of rallying together, but also of the reality that the prime minister has no credible rival for the party leadership.

“Likudniks don’t trash other Likudniks in public,” Likud Central Committee member Dudu Hayyim warned fellow activists at the election headquarters as journalists hovered for quotes.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.