Israel set for rightwing entrenchment

On Tuesday, Israeli voters are likely to elect the most hardline government in their history

Published January 21, 2013 7:36PM (EST)

Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu is on course to maintain power in the upcoming elections, with the government expected to entrench towards an even more right-wing, pro-settler line. Tuesday's election "could be on course to give Israel the most hardline government in its history, deepening its international isolation and potentially putting strains on its relations with Washington," reported Reuters.

Netanyahu's Likud party entered the campaign forging an alliance with the hardline Yisrael Beitenu party. The coalition is expected to secure a narrow majority and Bibi will likely also invite the ultranationalist Jewish Home Party to join his ruling alliance. The P.M. made clear in his address that if re-elected, he will not listen to international calls to allow a Palestinian state delineated by pre-1967 borders. Via the Guardian:

"When they say, 'Go back to the 67 lines,' I stand against. When they say, 'Don't build in Jerusalem,' I stand against," the Israeli prime minister told Channel 2 in a television interview.

"It's very easy to capitulate. I could go back to the impossible-to-defend 67 lines, and divide Jerusalem, and we would get Hamas 400 metres from my home." He would not allow that to happen under his leadership, he said.

Likud supporters on Sunday draped the walls of Jerusalem's Old City with huge banners proclaiming "Only Netanyahu will protect Jerusalem" and "Warning: 67 border ahead."

Tuesday will see Israel's first election since the Arab Spring and the revolutionary struggles that continue to blaze in the Middle East and North Africa. However, as Reuters noted, "the Arab revolts of the past two years have barely figured in the campaign, and even the center-left Labor Party, once pioneers of talks with the Palestinians, has avoided focusing on a peace process in deep freeze since 2010."

The question of military intervention in Iran has largely remained out of campaign debates, but Bibi has stressed that stopping Tehran developing a nuclear arsenal is a priority for him. Both the issue of expanding illegal Israeli settlements and intervention with Iran could further cool relations between Netanyahu and President Obama.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Benjamin Netanyahu Iran Israel Israeli Elections Palestine Right Wing