Socialist Worker

Settler parties gain in Israel's elections

by Sai Englert
Issue No. 2338

Last week's Israeli election took place on the background of a changing region. The Arab revolutions have toppled dictators and are continuing to threaten imperialism's control over the region.

Solidarity with the people of Palestine and their struggle for liberation has been at the heart of the revolutionary movements from Egypt to Syria.

The three main features of these elections have been the appearance of a centrist bloc, the surprisingly small victory of prime minister Benyamin Natanyahu's party and the worrying growth of the settler parties.

The election seems to confirm a pattern of a rightward shift in Israeli politics.

A couple of years ago Avigdor Lieberman's entry into government was considered unprecedented. Today he is outflanked on his right by the settler movement that is becoming a serious force in the Israeli parliament.

Natanyahu's Likud party was also fielding more right wing, pro-settler candidates than ever before.

The far right settler party Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Homes) received 11 out of the 120 seats in parliament. The party rejects any concessions to the Palestinians and campaigns for a “Great Israel” to cover the entirety of Palestine.

Its candidates and members are actively involved in expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Leading members of its party have caused international outrage in the run up to the election. Party leader, millionaire Naftali Benett, said his conscience would not allow him to evacuate settlements.

Another candidate called on Israelis to imagine blowing up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and building a Jewish temple in its place. This party is based on a wish to completely stamp out the Palestinians.

The election results point towards more of what we have seen in recent years, but with an even harder edge. This means more belligerent attitudes towards Iran and the rest of the region, and more settlement expansions making Palestinian lives even harder than they already are.

Interestingly, former prime minister Tzipi Livni called on people to vote for her because a victory for Natanyahu would mean more international Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions. This is the first time the BDS movement has been mentioned in an Israeli election.

The election also points to the political polarisation in the region – on the one hand the Arab spring, the struggle from below and the return of united Palestinian resistance.

On the other counter-revolution and imperialism is flexing its muscles to keep control over the region – and this particularly right wing and vicious Israeli government makes a perfect ally.

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Fri 15 Mar 2013, 15:32 GMT
Issue No. 2338
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