Israeli voters have spoken – and they have clearly moved the country back toward the center politically.
Contrary to gloomy predictions, Israeli voters strengthened the left and the center and weakened the right. They voted for a society that distributes its rewards and divides its responsibilities more fairly.
The results also provide a new opening for peace and a chance to construct a coalition committed to pursuing a two-state solution. It is important to note that there will be more explicit supporters of the two-state solution in this Knesset than in the last.
The big winner in the election, the centrist Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, has already made it clear that one of its key demands is a revival of the peace process. The Labor Party also increased its strength while former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s “Movement” and the pro-peace “Meretz” party will also be well represented in the new Knesset.
Voters gave parties on the right fewer seats, rebuffing those who campaigned on a platform of stalling peace efforts and expanding settlements. The Prime Minister’s Likud party and its Yisrael Beitenu partner lost 11 seats in the 120-member Knesset and Netanyahu must now seek centrist partners to build a parliamentary majority. J Street hopes the Prime Minister moves quickly to do so.
In shaking up the status quo, this election has also produced a new opening for the United States to introduce a new diplomatic initiative in the coming months – a move that is not only in our own national security interest but could bring hope to millions of people, Israelis and Palestinians alike, who yearn for peace.
It is our job at J Street to demonstrate broad support for President Obama to launch a new and bold effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In our new campaign – called Our Time to Lead – we are asking our supporters to take simple, clear actions to urge the President to act.
The State of the Union address next month provides the President an early opportunity to make his intentions clear.
As Daniel Seidemann commented, it turns out it’s not time for two-state supporters to “slash [our] wrists, but rather roll up [our] sleeves.
Please join us – time is of the essence.