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Israel at the Polls

Michael Sharnoff

Surprising exits polls from Israel reveal that Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni has edged out Likud rival Benjamin Netanyahu in the country’s parliamentary elections. However, in the wild world of Israeli politics, the fact that Livni earned the most votes does not necessarily mean she has enough votes to form a coalition.
Currently, Kadima and other left-of-center parties will likely be able to muster only 56 seats for a coalition.  A 61-seat majority is needed to form a government in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset. By contrast, a right-wing bloc led by Netanyahu would likely include 64 seats, which is sufficient to govern.
Right-leaning parties have recently gained in popularity at the expense of peace-seeking leftist parties. This can be attributed to the withering of the peace process with the Palestinians, as well as other regional dangers. Iran continues in its quest to acquire nuclear weapons and despite a 3-week war and ceasefire, Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israel.  Indeed, one rocket struck Israel 30 minutes before Israeli polls closed.