Likud-Beiteinu Struggling to Hold Off Challenges
A new round of polls shows the Jewish Home (Habayit Hayehudi) continuing to surge as an even farther-right alternative to the Likud-Beiteinu list, and leaving little doubt that Israel’s already far-right voter base is continuing to shift.
The surge in Jewish Home is led in no small part by former Netanyahu aide Naftali Bennett, who is scoring big both as a multi-millionaire business mogul and as a religious far-right ideologue who condemns the notion of Palestinian statehood on general principle in favor of a Greater Israel.
This is problematic for Netanyahu on a number of fronts, as he has already alienated the religious right by throwing his lot in with Avigdor Lieberman, whose star is falling as his legal troubles mount, and is struggling to keep the joint list just barely palatable to the international community while facing accusations of being “soft” for not taking as sociopathic of a hard-line as his newfound rivals.
Likud-Beiteinu has scrapped any endorsement of a two-state solution in its platform, but with “moderate” Likudniks already uneasy about their alliance with Lieberman and with the expulsion of their more moderate MPs, it will be difficult for them to go a step farther and scorn the idea of peace the way Bennett’s bloc is. This is costing them the extreme hawkish vote in the polls, while Home is scooping up votes from the fashionable religious right as well as the fringe.
This should leave them a force to be reckoned with after the election, but leaves the path to majority government even less clear, as Likud-Beiteinu seems unlikely to partner with them or the center-left, and the really-far-right doesn’t appear to have enough seats to govern without Lieberman and Netanyahu.
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