The right has won an unmistakable ideological victory in Israel. The dream of a Palestinian state is over. But tragically and paradoxically, it is precisely the ideological victory that may prevent the national camp from a political victory – and not for the first time.
In 1996, Netanyahu was elected prime minister and dramatically reduced the wave of terrorism that erupted following Oslo. Security quiet has turned attention to domestic issues. Indeed, the 1999 elections focused on "old age in the corridor" and issues of religion and state. The Likud did not answer these issues – and lost.
The transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and the Pompeo Declaration in relation to the legal status of the settlement in Judea and Samaria have marked the years of political effort, and the facts established in the field will be recorded in the history pages. However, precisely because of these achievements, which have jeopardized the political plan of the followers of the withdrawals, the Israeli electorate was free to focus on the social, religious and economic issues.
This is the backdrop for turning religion and state relations into a burning issue. Avigdor Lieberman did not invent the rift, although he certainly used it cynically, after two decades of heartfelt cooperation with the ultra-Orthodox. Still, quite a few Israelis are troubled by the issue, including many right-wing voters. And when they look at the Likud, they do not see a party seeking to mediate between Lieberman and Leitzman, but a party that chose a party. The connection between the Likud and the ultra-Orthodox expresses a deep alliance. But in complete politics it is not necessarily larger than its parts. In many cases, connections can get away with pointers. The Likud-Israel House connection in 2013, for example, smuggled Likud voters who flinched from Lieberman – and vice versa.
"With us in Minsk, when I was a kid," an acquaintance who moved from the Likud to Israel told us, "If you wanted to buy a sausage, the state forced you to buy a can too. So if you want to vote Likud, I have to vote for Leitzman too, I'd rather give up."
This does not mean that partners need to be thrown away, and collaboration can continue in other ways. But the national camp needs to understand that the symbiosis between the ultra-Orthodox and Likud parties has a value and electoral cost, and we no longer have the privilege to deny it. The national camp needs to secure rooms for everyone. To the ultra-Orthodox, the secular, and the religious. To preserve religion and state issues – and to the liberal right.