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Iran Won Israeli Elections

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fellMatthew 7:27



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Hours after the elections in Israel ended, Haaretz published a cartoon that correctly summarized the result. A figure resembling Iranian President Ahmadinejad is looking at a military parade and says, "They should go to Hell, we spent billions on their adventurous hallucinations that won't be implemented." The text alludes to words of former Prime Minister Olmert, who on January 11, accused Netanyahu of spending $3 billion on "hallucinated adventures that were not implemented and would not be implemented;" he was referring to an attack on Iran. Another hit on Netanyahu was the strange timing imposed on Lieberman's legal struggle; Netanyahu's deputy is now waiting to clear legal issues stopping him from becoming a government member. Yet, Benjamin Netanyahu emerged from the elections as the leader of the largest party in the 19th Knesset. After counting 99.8% of the votes and before the surplus-votes agreements were applied, Likud-Israel Beiteinu won 31 mandates out of 120.

Haaretz Post-Elections Cartoon

"They should go to Hell, we spent billions on their adventurous hallucinations that won't be implemented"
Haaretz Post-Elections Cartoon

The second largest party is a newcomer, secular-humanist Yesh Atid led by Yair Lapid, with 19 seats. Overall, the largest winner was Lapid; the main losers were Netanyahu, Kadima-Livni, and the "Power to Israel" extremist party, which was left out of the Knesset since it didn't cross the 2% threshold. Another point of interest was that after Ahmad Tibi's plea to Palestinians to come out of thei apathy and vote (see The Revolt of the B'Seder Arabs), they did so, awarding him an extra-seat (his party has now 5). The abovementioned words of Olmert scared the Left and the Palestinians. Consequently, these elections were defined by a high turnover of voters to Left and Arab parties; until 10 PM, the State's Elections Committee reported a 66.6% turnover, roughly 1.5% more than in 2009. The result was that Netanyahu lost 11 seats. Now, he is locked in an even tougher situation. In the next days, President Peres will probably choose Netanyahu as the candidate to form the government. Afterwards, Netanyahu will have an initial period of four weeks to form a coalition. In order to achieve that, he needs the support of at least 61 Members of the Knesset. A Minority Government with less than 60 members is technically possible, but has proven to be unstable. The problem is that according to traditional coalitions, the new Knesset is split 60:60.

Tzipi Livni pays dear for her sabotage of Kadima

Tzipi Livni pays dear for her sabotage of Kadima


Four main scenarios exist. The simplest is a Narrow-Right Coalition composed by Netanyahu (31), The Jewish Home (11), Shas (11) and Yahadut HaTorah (7). The last two are ultra-Orthodox Haredi parties. Probably this is the most comfortable structure for Netanyahu. However, it lacks a clear majority.

The Right-Center Coalition is the stuff nightmares are made of. It is based on the first option, but it adds to it Lapid (19) and Tzipi Livni (6). The result would be a particularly stable 85-member coalition. Minor variants of this option are the addition of just one party, Lapid or Livni. Both parties are problematic for Netanyahu. Tzipi Livni recently sabotaged Kadima, her former party, which barely entered the Knesset with two seats. To say the least, she cannot be trusted. Lapid is raucously anti-religious; his main aim is to send the Haredim to the army. Stranger things have happened in the past in Israel, but he is unlikely to favor such a coalition.

The third option is a Right-Center Coalition without the Haredim. This will give Netanyahu a 67-strong coalition. Yet, Haredim are the most stable part in Israeli coalitions. The few governments that attempted to rule without them didn't last. Moreover, Haredim will allow Netanyahu to balance his new Nemesis, Yair Lapid; thus he is unlikely to ignore them. The fourth most-probable coalition is a Left-Center-Haredi one. Including Lapid (19), Labor (15), Shas (11), Yahadut HaTorah (7), Livni (6), Meretz (6), and it will have 64 members. This option would remove Netanyahu from power; in this scenario, Yair Lapid will be Prime Minister in such a case. This is unlikely to happen.

Iran Won

Netanyahu's decision to call for early elections was the result of his evaluation that he could improve the position of his party. In the polls, he was leading solidly; his plan was that his party would also hold the positions of Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Then he would have had enough power to advance his belligerent agenda. Accordingly, Minister of Defense Ehud Barak announced he wouldn’t run. Minister of Foreign Affairs Lieberman returned to Likud as Netanyahu's Deputy. Disbelieving his good luck, Netanyahu watched how Tzipi Livni, former leader of the second largest party in the former Knesset, gave a death strike to Kadima. Netanyahu ran to the nearest shopping mall and bought new sunglasses; they were rosy and merry. Yet, he couldn't enjoy them. He was hit by several storms. Lieberman was oddly impeached days before the elections, apparently for political reasons. The Jewish Home party gained votes among settlers and traditional Jews at the expense of Likud, forcing Netanyahu to deploy the Holocaust Weapon. Finally, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who had been recently acquitted after having been forced to leave office, used his regained innocence to hit the most probable figure behind his impeachment: Netanyahu. Olmert's careful whisper destroyed Netanyahu's dreams.

Unless something unexpected happens, it will take at least another month until the next government is presented. It is difficult to say to which of the abovementioned scenarios it will resemble. The "Traitors Season" has begun; one can expect several Members of the Knesset to switch parties in the upcoming weeks. Predicting who is difficult; Tzipi Livni is not the only one with Judas' blood in her veins. Yet, what is clear is that the next government would be a coalition of barely-related parties. Due to their conflicting agendas, there is no chance they would agree on an attack on Iran. Iran won the Israeli elections.

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