Israeli’s Most Boring Politician wins its most Boring Election

That was the rap on the national elections in Israel for the 120 seat Knesset, that with Ariel Sharon in the hospital, and Kadima leader and ex-Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert essentially acting as a caretaker interim PM, even now as he is the elected head of the newly victorious Kadima Party, which looks like it will garner the most seats of any party in Israel’s fractious national proportion electoral system (the same system now in place in Iraq and Italy, which explains the general political instability in both of those places… well, a small part of Iraq’s problems, anyway). Israelis also thought it was boring, with a 63% turnout– very low for Israel, though it would be an amazingly high turnout here.
It looks like Kadima will have somewhere between 29 and 32 seats, the re-energized Labour Party with around 20, the good-old-lefty Meretz Party with around 5 seats, and some Arab parties somewhere between 5 and 8 seats… though it is unclear if Arab parties will be invited into a governing coalition of a party founded by Ariel Sharon. The rump Sharon-less Likud Party headed by the loathsome Bibi Netanahu got around 10-12 seats, the worst dropoff of a ruling party in Israeli history.
And so… this is interesting (after all). As some of you know, this blog took tremendous interest in Israel’s last national election some three years ago, when then Labour leader Amram Mitzna proposed a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, building “the wall” and negotiations over withdrawal from everywhere else with whatever Palestinians wanted to negotiate. Since that time, Sharon’s government (which trounced Mitzna in the election)… unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, built the wall… and has pretty much stopped talking to the Palestinians.
So where it goes now looks like Israel will simply do unilaterally what it could not do in the context of a deal: pull out of parts of the West Bank that it doesn’t want (much of which reflect troublesome Palestinian population centers), while consolidating Israel’s hold on Jerusalem, and some of the largest, best established settlement blocs.
In some sense, the Palestinians made this easier by electing Hamas (which today won a big confidence vote in the Palestinian parliament 71-36, paving the way for a Hamas led Palestinian government.) The Palestinians are now led by a group committed to the destruction of Israel… so why should Israel deal with them? Olmert has pledged to move to Israel’s “final borders” more or less unilaterally.
This wasn’t exactly how Mitzna would have done it. It is, of course, where Sharon was going. Israel has decided it can’t really coexist with its Arab neighbors (other than those inside Israel willing to live as second class citizens)… so there’s no point in prolonging it. Israel will now make peace on its own terms, and set its own “final borders”.
We’ll see how long that lasts.