What should be obvious is that, leading up to the elections for Israel’s 19th Knesset, the majority of the public identified with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ability to present Israel’s legitimate case before the world. They supported his moves in Jerusalem and tolerated, to a large extent, Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria.
In poll after poll over the last two decades, we see a dichotomy: Israelis desire peace very much and are willing to offer much to obtain it, but they do not believe that a peace agreement is achievable and they believe even less that the Arabs would preserve that peace.
Confident in Netanyahu’s handling of Israel’s external threats, Israeli voters felt able to vote based on their lack of confidence in their day-to-day lives. Thinking Netanyahu was already confirmed as Prime Minister, some voters presumed they had a virtual ‘double-ticket’ and sought out someone else.
The voters were dissatisfied with his domestic social programs, or lack thereof, not his foreign and security policies. They were convinced by promises of cheaper housing, less expensive utilities and a fair share of the burden of military service, and, drawn by their desire to be ‘the middle class’, some abandoned the Likud.
Israel’s voters have a history of searching for a secular saviour outside the usual party groupings. In 1977, the Dash Movement for Change obtained 15 seats. In 1999, there was the Center Party with six. In 2003, Yair Lapid’s father, Tommy, broke out with 15 seats for Shinui. In the end, they all dissipated, either disappearing or merging into other frameworks.