Feature

Israel veers to the right

In national elections, polls show voters shunning the doves

Israelis go to the polls Tuesday, said Ilene Prusher in The Christian Science Monitor, and the ruling Kadima party will likely “take the brunt of voter frustration” over the two wars it oversaw: Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza just last month. The "indecisive outcome” of those battles has pushed voters toward Likud’s hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu, who will beat Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni unless far-right insurgent Avigdor Lieberman siphons off too many votes.

Lieberman is the only candidate “throwing any heat” in the election, said Joe Klein in Time online, and a “not likely, but not impossible” win for his “neo-racist, anti-Arab Yisrael Beitenu party” is making the election exciting. With Lieberman gaining, Netanyahu is “losing altitude—pretty rapidly,” and the center-left is reluctantly “drifting toward Livni.”

Livni is the least hawkish frontrunner, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, but even she has gone out of her way to show “she’s as tough as the next guy” when it comes to Gaza. And while the urge to “pull back” on peace talks is understandable, “Israel will never be truly secure without peace, and will never have peace without a negotiated agreement.”

No one “seriously believes” that Livni will deliver a peace treaty, said Jonathan Freedland in Britain’s The Guardian, or that Netanyahu will “realize the now-fading Likud dream” of Israeli ownership of Palestine. Both will move to the center-right. If he wins, Netanyahu would rather be “the hawk in a centrist government” than be beholden to Lieberman.

Still, fear over the “surging” Lieberman being in power is “the best thing Tzipi Livni has going for her,” said Benjamin Hartman in Israel’s Haaretz. Her Kadima party is weak and discredited, but this election is mostly about staving off the candidate “you hate or fear the most.”

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