The outcome of Israel’s third election in 11 months points to at least half the electorate’s overwhelming desire for continuity in government rather than the chaos of another deadlocked ballot and the resulting economic havoc. For this reason, Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud and its right-wing bloc came in first, trailed by their challenger, Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan.
Ganz and his three co-leaders failed to accurately diagnose the dominant popular mood, because all three of their election campaigns were firmly fixated on Netanyahu’s unfitness to govern under three corruption indictments and imminent trial on March 17. In any case, they argued, he would be too busy with the trial to exercise his duties diligently as prime minister.
And so, after Netanyahu trumpeted his party’s great victory on Monday night, March 2, at the end of voting, Kahol Lavon’s leaders waited in vain for good tidings.
What their strategists missed was that a weighty slice of the electorate was prepared to separate Netanyahu as politician and national leader from the persona that the police and prosecution had indicted for fraud, breach of faith and bribery. Some credited his allegations of a conspiracy by an adverse faction of the law enforcement body for trumping up the charges against him and subverting witnesses to this end.