Tags: Israel | Danny Ayalon | Azriel Bermant | Israeli elections | Netanyahu | holds | power

Danny Ayalon: 'Chances Are' Netanyahu Will Stay in Power

By    |   Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 07:31 PM

A former official in the government of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu toldNewsmax TV on Tuesday that the country's national elections would likely conclude with his old boss hanging on as prime minister.

Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister in 2008-2012, spoke to "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner shortly before polls in Israel closed, and a few hours before Netanyahu declared himself the victor in a race that was seen as either too tight to call or tilting toward his Labor party opponent, Isaac Herzog.

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Ayalon and another "MidPoint" guest, Tel Aviv University research fellow Azriel Bermant, were predicting beforehand that, at the very least, Netanyahu would probably share the top job with Herzog on a rotating basis as part of a national unity government necessitated by the closeness of the final results.

But Netanyahu now says he is already pushing ahead to form his own coalition government, apparently confident that his party, Likud, had won enough center-right and hard-right votes to give him the necessary edge, the Associated Press reports.

If he's correct, it means he will have survived concerns about Israel's economy that Ayalon and Bermant said were much more central to this election than issues such as friction with the United States, the Palestinian conflict or fears of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Yet Netanyahu also made last-ditch appeals to Jewish nationalism, saying the country's Arab voters were mobilizing against him.

He said on Monday that he will never allow the formation of a Palestinian state and will continue to permit construction of Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem.

Ayalon, a visiting professor at Yeshiva University in New York, said that was Netanyahu trying to peel off votes from Israel's ultra right-wing parties and thereby improve Likud's chances at leading the new government.

Bermant said it was also Netanyahu finally saying out loud what he's always felt.

"Netanyahu, six years ago, he was on record on saying that he accepted the idea of a Palestinian state," said Bermant. "I personally was skeptical whether he ever was ready to accept a Palestinian state."

Bermant said a Netanyahu win might actually come as a relief to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who would have faced more pressure to deal with Herzog and make politically painful trade-offs in order to reach a lasting peace deal.

"There's a part of me that wonders whether he's hoping that Netanyahu wins the election because that way he doesn't have to make difficult decisions," said Bermant.

Ayalon said another term for Netanyahu also means patching up frayed U.S.-Israeli ties. Relations have deteriorated amid an apparent mutual personal dislike between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, made worse by disagreements over settlement construction and nuclear talks with Iran.

"If it's Bibi," said Ayalon, it's time for "ironing out the differences and certainly putting aside any personal sentiment because the responsibility, and their obligation, is to move ahead, and to move ahead together. … It will save lives, both Israeli and American."

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A former official in the government of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu toldNewsmax TV on Tuesday that the country's national elections would likely conclude with his old boss hanging on as prime minister. Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister in 2008-2012, spoke...
Danny Ayalon, Azriel Bermant, Israeli elections, Netanyahu, holds, power, against, Palestinian, state
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2015-31-17
Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 07:31 PM
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