Tuesday, October 26, 2010

israel's rise of the right

NPR | In Israel, a recent poll shows that support for traditional left-of-center parties is slipping dramatically. Analysts say it's an indication of the waning power of the peace movement in Israel. The mostly right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reflects a fundamental shift in Israeli politics.

'Reflecting the Israeli Mood'
On a recent afternoon, Israel's parliament, or Knesset, tables a no-confidence motion in the government's settlement policies in the occupied West Bank. A few left-of-center politicians take to the podium, but the hall is mostly empty.

It's a sign of the times in Israel. Netanyahu leads what analysts here say is the most right-wing government in Israel's history. Parties that up until recently were marginal at best now have a powerful voice.

The recent poll shows that if elections were held today, left-leaning Labor, the party that used to control Israeli politics, would only get nine seats in the 120-member Knesset. Left-leaning parties in all would only get about 47 seats.

On the other hand, the right-leaning nationalist and religious parties would get about 73 seats.

And the group that has been making the biggest inroads is Yisrael Beiteinu, or Israel Our Homeland, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

"In a way, he's reflecting the Israeli mood more than I do, more than the Labor does," says Daniel Ben Simon, a member of parliament for the Labor party. "I have witnessed it from the parliament. I am sitting next to the people from Yisrael Beiteinu Lieberman party. It's their Knesset, it's their time, it's their period. They are moving within the Knesset as if they were the owners of this place."

Rise Of The Right
Analysts say there are several reasons why the rise of the right in Israel is no temporary phenomenon. The first is demographic. Israel's population is becoming more religious. Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews have bigger families.

But, critically, the failure of the left's long push for peace with the Palestinians has gutted its support.