Conventional wisdom has it that the recent parliamentary election in Israel has swayed Israeli politics further to the political right. After all, the balance of power in the 120-member Knesset has shifted quite dramatically. The political bloc that included the centrist Kadima Party and Labor, which dominated the outgoing government in Jerusalem, was reduced from 70 seats in the last Knesset to 55 seats in the new one, while right, ultraright, and religious-right parties, led by Likud, won 65 seats, a gain of 15 seats.
Likud, headed by former Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu, came in a close second behind Kadima, headed by Tzipi Livni. But with the Yisrael Beitenu Party of Avigdor Lieberman and the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party rallying behind Likud, the right-wing grouping had the clear majority in the Knesset, allowing it to form the next Israeli coalition and return Bibi to the prime minister’s office.
Many pundits have suggested that the victorious parties on the political right have benefited from the rising nationalist sentiments among many Israelis who, in the aftermath of the recent war in Gaza, have concluded that the chances for reaching a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians are very slim and that the Jewish state needs to elect a government that would embrace a tough posture vis-à-vis the Arabs and Iran.
While these national-security considerations were...