Israel’s 2013 Knesset elections, in which the incumbent ruling party was returned to power for the first time in a quarter-century, were noteworthy in several respects. The basic divisions of Israeli politics into geopolitical and socioeconomic blocs were unchanged, only small electoral shifts being registered. On the other hand, as this report shows, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barely achieved an electoral victory despite his overwhelming preponderance in public-opinion polls. Due to the rise of the new, personality-driven Yesh Atid party and the latter’s unlikely alliance with the settler-based Jewish Home, which together garnered as many Knesset seats as the winning Likud-Yisrael Beitenu list, for the first time in decades ultra-Orthodox parties were excluded from the governing coalition. The elections were marked by the near-invisibility of the Palestinian issue and Palestinian citizens of Israel. The report concludes that the continuing governing consensus in favor of “liberal colonialism” is unsustainable, although exploiting the “cracks” in that consensus is difficult and unlikely in the short term.

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