Netanyahu's Likud did not take the predicted beating, but rather it dealt a whooping itself. We kept hearing from the press that Israelis wanted a change but the morning after elections what we learned was that it was the mainstream media, political pundits, and Obama cronies who wanted the change-- the Israelis didn't listen, they wanted Netanyahu.
It wasn't supposed to go that way. Most pundits saw a very close election, a possible loss for Netanyahu's Likud party but with enough center-right seats for Bibi to scrap together a coalition. When the exit polls were revealed yesterday afternoon when polls closed, it seemed as Likud scrapped together a tiny win, much better for Netanyahu than expected... but when votes were actually counted, incredibly there was a clear and decisive win for the incumbent and for the center right coalition.
With everything counted except for the military vote it looks as if Netanyahu’s Likud Party has captured 29 of the 120 seats in Parliament, launching past his chief rival, the center-left Zionist Union alliance, which got 24 seats.
It's all over but the coalition horse trading.
Today the media will say that Netanyahu will return to office and a fractured U.S./Israel friendship. Actually nothing has change, the friendship is strong, the relationship between Obama and Bibi is lousy--but it was never good. The peace process is dead but a more accurate description would be just like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the peace process is still dead. There has been no breath in the supposed peace process since Bubba Clinton was the American president.
Before we move on to other issues lets take a look at the Bibi win and who were the big losers.
- Barack Obama: Here's a little secret, many American presidents have tried to influence Israeli elections in little ways. President Obama's involvement was the most overt in history including sending one of his political operatives to Israel to run an anti-Bibi organization partially. Obama put his skin in the game on this one and got burned. On the other watch out for what comes next, Obama has very thin skin and doesn't like to lose.
- St. Patrick: Some saw the fact that the Israeli elections were held on St. Patrick's Day and that Zionist Union's leader Isaac Herzog is the grandson of the Chief Rabbi of Ireland was a good omen for the opposition. Those people forgot the most important point--- St. Patrick wasn't Jewish.
- Mainstream Media: Oh boy did they want Netanyahu to lose, you could tell by the coverage which saw the race as closer than it was, or the way they accuse Netanyahu of being racist because of his complaint that outside Israel NGOs were busing Arab voters to the Polls.
- Polls: Remember all that was written about the U.S. polls after the 2012 presidential election? Ditto!
- Tiny Parties: The threshold to get a seat in Knesset rose from 2% of the vote to 3.25% of the vote. This forced parties to unite, consolidate and made it much more difficult for a tiny more extreme party to be a power broker in creating a coalition.
- Yesh Atid Party: Yair Lapid's secular party was the big winner of the last election but lost almost half of its support this time falling from 19 to 11 seats.
- Tzipi Livni: She was promised a rotation of the PM with Herzog if Zionist Union won, then said she Herzog wouldn't have to rotate, then said he would. The prediction here is that this was the last election where Livni would be important. As the song says, "Na,Na,Na,Na---Na,Na,Na,Na---Hey, Hey, Goodbye!"