‘We’ll see more radical Netanyahu’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters / Nir Elias)
​Netanyahu’s win in the election despite a devastating Gaza war, deteriorating economic situation, and increasing political isolation will only encourage him to continue doing exactly the same, says Dr. Ishay Landa from the Open University of Israel.

RT:Why was Netanyahu so convincing to voters and why were the polls so wrong as you see it?

Dr. Ishay Landa: I think that Netanyahu succeeded because he worked on what he excels in doing which is really this kind of scaremongering, depicting the situation in black-white terms, “it’s us against them, the Jews against the Arabs.” And sadly I have to say that has a strong purchase on the Israeli voter. A lot of people actually believe that… And this kind of fear mongering paid off big time for Netanyahu this time again.

RT:Are we going to see a more radical Netanyahu?

IL: Yes, I’m afraid we are going to see a more radical Netanyahu if that’s at all possible. I think that he will take encouragement from this kind of renewed mandate of two years of achieving absolutely nothing positive as far as I see it, and as far as people on the left see. The devastating war, wrecking devastation in Gaza, taking the lives of tens of Israeli soldiers. The situation within Israel socio-economically has only deteriorated. The situation politically has deteriorated in a sense that Israel is increasingly isolated. If after two years of this kind of negative results Netanyahu gains again this kind of mandate, then I think it will encourage him to continue doing exactly the same.

READ MORE: Netanyahu’s Likud claims 'victory against all odds' in Israel elections

RT: What will convince Israeli voters that this push for security resulting in isolation might not be the best thing for Israel?

IL: It’s difficult to say what will influence them. I think that the Israeli voter is very ideologically motivated; there is a sort of tribal affiliation both on the left and the right. So reality sometimes - as shockingly as it may sound - doesn’t figure out so prominently in people’s calculations…And economically we have to say the situation is very bad, but at the same time people are looking at the situation in Europe and saying “are we that bad? Is ‘Bibi’ really the source of our problem?” …And under these conditions they say “we prefer what we know rather than risking a new alternative”.

Political analyst Mukhaimer Abu Saadam comments on the United Arab List party surging into third place in the Israeli elections: “The United Arab List was place number three in the final results of the Israeli parliamentary elections receiving 14 seats out of 120 seats of the Israeli Knesset. Yes this is the first time Arab members of Knesset were able to receive that number. Most of the time the Arab seats at the Knesset were something between 10 or 11 and this is quite an enormous and significant step for the Arabs inside Israel to receive 14 seats at the Knesset. But let me also add that this doesn’t represent the overall population of the Arabs within Israel. The 14 seats out of 120 seats are about 12 percent of the Israeli Knesset members and the Arabs constitute more than 20 percent of the Israeli population and more than 19 percent of the Israeli voters.”

‘Choice between right and wrong’

Dr. Mordechai Kedar, director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam at Bar-Ilan University, says that as more money was spent on the campaign against Netanyahu the more attractive he became for Israeli voters.

RT:Why is everyone so surprised that Netanyahu won?

Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Because all the polls in Israel made an impression that the left would win but apparently the Israeli voter is much cleverer than the polls. Apparently many of those polls were sponsored by people who had all kinds of intentions and we know very well that much money was brought into this campaign against Netanyahu and the more money was spent against him, the more he became attractive and people voted for him. It’s not a struggle between the right and the left, it’s a struggle between the right and the wrong because what happened is that the left here in Israel actually took something from the margin like the price of oil, cottages, housing and made it the biggest problem which Israel has.

READ MORE: White House pushes Palestinian statehood in face of Netanyahu win

RT:You said about the choice between the right and the wrong. Am I right that the wrong choice would be better ties with the US, some kind of diplomatic dialogue with Iran and negotiations for a two-state solution?

MK: Definitely. We are more than sure that the Palestinian State on the so-called West Bank will turn into another “Hamastan” just like what happened in Gaza. Does anyone in the world can prevent it, Russia the US or NATO? We are not willing to have another “Hamastan” here, near Jerusalem in Judea and Samaria area which will threaten 80 percent of the Israeli population with short-range missiles...

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.