Israel held its second round of elections for prime minister and the 120 members of Knesset, the Israeli parliament. And, much like in April's first round election, no clear party emerged.
Not one of the 32 parities that threw their hats into this ring garnered enough votes to be recognized as the clear winner. And neither of the two neck-in-neck leading parties is able to easily corral votes from like-minded rival parties and stitch together the 61 votes required for a majority, ruling coalition.
Neither of the two largest parties have the votes or the gravitas to tip the scales.
As I went on air analyzing and commenting on the election here in the United States, I was stunned when listening to my Israeli counterparts. Almost as if in one voice those commentators were writing the eulogy for the long-time incumbent, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party.
In interview after interview in Israel, headlines screamed of the end of Bibi. At the same time, Bibi's supporters sang his name and compared their present leader to Israel's biblical leader, David Melech Y'Israel — David, King of Israel.
I experienced feelings of deja vu.
It was almost as if I was watching the last election for president of the United States.
It brought me back to the presidential election of 2016 in which network after almost every network, commentator, and website pronounced Hillary Clinton as the victor — even when the numbersindicated her defeat.
Israeli election coverage, just like U.S. election coverage, was a blatant example not of unbiased reporting, it was a textbook example of "wishful thinking."
Wishful thinking is far worse than fake news.
Fake news is information that is contrived. It is when the purveyor knows that they have created a fiction and play with the facts to achieve their goal and have them line up with their vision. Wishful thinking is different. Wishful thinking is respected journalists and commentators, trusted by the public to provide unbiased information, passing on their personal opinions, even their personal political wish lists, and touting it as analysis.
As those professionals were celebrating the end of the "Bibi Era," the longest serving prime minister in the history of Israel, I was explaining that when the same results occurred five months earlier, the same response was not provoked.
Their behavior was not simply unprofessional, it was anti-intellectual and bordering on indoctrination.
Netanyahu and his Likud party, representing the center-right in Israel, were unable to move the needle following the last election — hence this second voting round. Then again, neither was Blue and White, the leading and center left-leaning contender for the throne led by former IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz, able to budge the national consensus.
Cause for dismay on the part of Israelis, certainly. Cause for national soul-searching and re-evaluation, perhaps. But hardly cause for an epitaph.
And there was more wishful thinking cum reporting. Almost every news source tallied the votes obtained by the United Arab list, an umbrella for various Arab parties, as part of the center-left block, I would ask: what were they thinking? But they weren't thinking. They are wishing, they are dreaming.
The Arab parties are, according to Israel's election rule book, able to join the Blue and White or any coalition, but they won't. They never would.
It's time to look at the numbers:
Sixty-one Knesset seats are what's necessary to form a government and have a ruling majority. With almost all of the votes counted, it is safe to say that the Blue and White and center-left block control 44 Knesset seats. Likud and the right block control 55 seats.
Forty-four plus 55 equals 99. That 21 remaining seats.
Included in that 21 is the United Arab List and the votes belonging to Avigdor Lieberman, the politician who maneuvered and manipulated and stipulated and forced the hand of Netanyahu and is responsible — almost single handedly, for this second election.
Lieberman is, at heart, a staunch rightist, a settlerbut he is also a secularist. He will not join with the religious parties on the right and he will have a hard time joining the left block.
He has a lot of power for someone with only eight seats. But even if he were to join with Gantz on the left, the left would still only have 52 seats.
Right now, some claim the only way a new Israeli government can be formed is if right and left join together in a broad-based coalition.
That seems unlikely.
If anything was evident from this election it's that politically, Israel is split for the foreseeable future. And that's not what anyone wished for.
Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern" a weekly TV program and "My Chopp" a daily radio spot. A dynamic speaker, he specializes in analyzing world events and evaluating their relevance and impact. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.
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