Israel’s election and Obama

There was an electric atmosphere across Israel last night, from the moment the first exit poll suggested (accurately, it appears) that Bibi Netanyahu’s Likud – Yisrael Beitenu block would get the most votes and around 31 seats. But, the polls also showed the shock result that –¬†out of nowhere – the¬†center-left party of former journalist Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) would be the second biggest with around 19 seats. Labor look to be heading for 15 seats. So, Labor plus Yesh Atid received more votes than the Likud plus Yisrael Beitenu…

It’s mildly amusing to recall the woeful failure of the likes of the BBC and The Guardian to (a) impartially cover the election; and (b) accurately gauge the mood of the nation. Hint to both of them: you need to stop hanging out with Haaretz journalists. I should also say that I was disappointed by the Economist’s coverage. Its editorial of last week was a disgrace. Maybe their journalists are also spending too much time in the company of the wrong people.

I spent some time online, following the trends, and watched a bit of the TV coverage. The bottom line is that the serious talking and negotiating are going on now, in an attempt to form the next government. It looks like the right spectrum will have parity or a wafer thin majority of seats (60-61 out of the 120 total). However, it may be that Bibi will look at forming a ‘central’ block coalition as that is likely to be more durable. We shall see; meantime, it’s all to play for.

In among the noise and fury of last night, one of the best, lasting images was prompted by a couple of stars in the Twitterverse: they pointed out that over in Washington, Obama was rushing to his computer to google Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid! Obama’s pulse was probably going through the roof if he saw or heard any of the rumors that Labor were going to back Yair Lapid as the new Prime Minister. (Unlikely, but a juicy prospect nevertheless.)

I didn’t see Lapid’s speech, but you can get a flavor of it from this Times of Israel report. Note the mention of Dov Lipman; one to watch.