Lew’s View: The Netanyahu Victory and Possibilities for Progress

Lewis GoldsteinAlthough the  election results from Israel are not as I and many others wanted, I remain hopeful that a new government under Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu can move towards peace and treat all Israeli citizens with respect and equality. Presently, Netanyahu’s Likud Party appears to have elected 29 members to the Knesset which has 120 seats. The Zionist Union Alliance, led by Isaac Herzog, has 24 or 25 seats.

“Now it’s time to set aside campaign rhetoric and political squabbles and move forward together,” said Rep. Eliot Engel in a recent statement. I couldn’t agree more.

The leaders of the opposition to Netanyahu, Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni must work with Likud and the other parties who seek peace and recognize that a two-state solution is the path to peace. Mr. Netanyahu needs to recognize that a two-state solution is the path to peace and he should work with them and with the Arabic party Joint List which elected the third highest number of members to the Knesset.

Never in Israel’s history have Arab members of the Knesset joined in a coalition to govern or attempted to work with the government in power. That has to change. Mr. Netanyahu has marginalized the Israeli Arabs. Only an inclusive and peace oriented government can change that. Several members of the Knesset from the far right are no longer members of the Knesset.  Israel’s present path is isolationist. That has to change.

Netanyahu’s statements against a Palestinian nation and his intent to build more settlements in contested areas are turning Israel’s strongest allies into skeptics. His policies raise fears in many American Jews who do not want to see Israel isolated in an already hostile world.


And now  the unique Israeli way of forming a governing coalition.

And now the unique Israeli way of forming a governing coalition. (Credit: Haaretz)


Netanyahu’s anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian rhetoric stoke the embers of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel feelings. Hopefully with fewer members of the Knesset from the settlements this policy can change. We need to pay careful attention to Netanyahu’s new government and hope that he see the need to include members from moderate and left of center parties.  The formation of a governing coalition in Israel is always chaotic as the above cartoon depicts.

Deals are made, new policies are developed, members yell and scream at each other. I pray that out of this wrangling and seeming chaos comes a government which will govern with equality, acceptance and tolerance for all. The Israeli economy is not in great shape. The new coalition government must address economic inequality. All Israeli residents –Arabs, Christians and Jews– must be treated equally when it comes to wages, living conditions, job opportunities and benefits.

Lastly, Mr. Netanyahu must work with President Obama on a viable two-state solution that ensures Israel’s safety, security and continued existence as a Jewish state. As more and more allies turn away from Israel because of his extremist actions, he will be forced to change course in order to protect his legacy — and to protect Israel.

I urge Mr. Netanyahu to recognize that it is his duty to protect the security of all of the peoples of Israel — Muslims, Christians and Jews alike.


The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author do not necessarily represent those of The Bronx Chronicle, its staff, or contributors.

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