The Feint Left

There are many who look at the Israeli elections and say to themselves, “Wow! We thought that this would be a move to the right and LOOK! There is a 60-60 split of seats! Netanyahu’s coalition will be weakened! He will have to work with the left.”

But where this appears to be a significant leftward move, potentially Netanyahu could create a center-right coalition with 61 votes (Likud, Yesh Atid, and Jewish Home) with an additional 18 votes for anything supported by the Haredim (SHAS and UTJ). While Yair Lapid supports a diplomatic solution and an ongoing peace process, he agrees with Netanyahu on maintaining the settlement blocs and Jerusalem. In other words, the reality might well be that Netanyahu’s basic support includes 79 of the 108 non-Arab votes in the Knesset which is a massive majority.

In fact, if my understanding is correct, Netanyahu has gone from 65 core votes in the previous Knesset with a right wing coalition (Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, SHAS, UTJ, National Union, Jewish Home, and Otzma L’Yisrael) to 79 core votes with a center-right coalition (Likud, Yesh Atid, Jewish Home, SHAS and UTJ). This center-right coalition has the potential to be stronger than the former right wing one. There is also a real possibility for Kadima and or Hatnuah to join the coalition, strengthening it further.

Where Kadima took 21 votes away before, Yesh Atid may be bringing 14 of them back.

This potential new coalition could operate with dramatically reduced reliance upon the Haredim, assured of support from Labor, Hatnua, and Kadima for votes with which that sector would disagree, yet having a healthy majority for votes with which those three secular parties would disagree such as on land based concessions in any peace process.

To use the term from boxing in which a boxer appears to move a certain way but in fact does not, this looks like a feint left. In fact, Netanyahu’s coalition as a whole may have just gained significant strength, not from the right, but from the center.

About the Author
Rabbi David Kaufman is the Rabbi of Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Des Moines, Iowa, a congregation affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. He is also the President and Co-Founder of We Are For Israel, the home of "Centrist Advocates for Realistic Peace" and created the news site about the crisis in the Nuba Mountains, Rabbi Kaufman maintains an informational blog on which he posts sermons and other materials related to Jewish practice and belief at