Israeli elections: No matter the Prime Minister, the status quo will triumph

If you follow the ongoing election campaign in

Israel

hoping to find any meaningful debate on policy, you will be left profoundly disappointed. As has been the case in previous campaigns for a while now, the political discourse has remained shallow, and the most significant issue, if there is any at all, is the leadership and future of embattled Prime Minister

Benjamin Netanyahu . Ironically, both major political camps in Israel have one thing in common: They believe that the world as we know it will come to an end, either because Bibi is no longer the leader of the country or the opposite happens, and he will be reelected for another term on Tuesday. Even though it is true that personalities and their individual style of leadership matter, the problems besetting the state of Israel are longterm and

structural.

Nonetheless, election outcomes matter, and Netanyahu has raised the stakes further with his recent

announcement

that, if reelected on Tuesday, he would begin the process of annexing settlements in the occupied and colonized

West Bank.

With

Donald Trump

in the

Whitehouse ,

dismissing Netanyahu’s musings on this question as nothing more than mere electioneering would be a grave mistake. So far, at least, he has always allowed his rightwing tendencies to get the better of him whenever circumstances allowed him to do so, and Bibi is likely to survive only if he ends up being in a position to form another rightwing coalition government; he would also face no serious opposition from the Trump administration, and there is precious little that would stop him from making good on this particular election promise in his next term.

What are the likely consequences of the election, and how has the campaign been going so far? Three prominent experts are weighing in on this question in this

discussion,

hosted by the

Middle East Institute.

Natan Sachs is a director and fellow with the

Brookings Institution;

Israeli journalist

Amir Tibon

is the Washington correspondent for

Haaretz

and

Grace Wermenbol

specializes on the Middle East and North Africa.

Another interesting roundup on the campaign in its dying days can be found

here.

I fear that

Noam Sheizaf

puts it well when he explains that, for Israelis at present, voting for the status quo is

rational.

For more coverage of Israeli politics on this blog, read related material

here.

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