What happens next in Israel?

Benjamin Netanyahu has won; now what? The answer may depend to some extent on what kind of a governing coalition he forms. Will he form one with the major right-wing parties or will he put together a unity government that includes the center-left? Mario Loyola suggests that given the gravity of the threats to Israel’s security, a unity government might make more sense.

Regardless of the nature of the governing coalition, the fundamentals will likely lead Netanyahu in the same direction. Peter Berkowitz believes that the direction will not “veer right.” Netanyahu, Peter says, will “continue[] to talk tough, to approve building in West Bank towns and cities, and to prefer privatization and free market economics.”

But under Netanyahu, West Bank building hasn’t been nearly as aggressive as his left-wing critics have made out. Peter suggests that most of the building will continue to occur in areas most Israelis believe will remain part of Israel in the event of a deal with the Palestinians.

On the domestic front, Peter believes that Netanyahu’s new government might well be somewhat more “progressive” than the current one. Moshe Kahlon, head of the new centrist party Kulanu, apparently is under strong consideration to be minister of the treasury. Kahlon made the promotion of social and economic justice the centerpiece of his campaign. Moreover, Netanyahu acknowledged during his campaign that his government had done too little to deal with the escalating cost of living in Israel, particularly the crushing price of housing.

Whichever direction Netanyahu takes Israel, he will face the unrelenting hostility of the U.S. government during the remainder of President Obama’s tenure. Caroline Glick notes that Obama has selected Robert Malley as the National Security Counsel’s new Middle East Coordinator.

Malley is virulently anti-Israel. We highlighted some of his greatest Israel-bashing hits here.

Malley or not, indeed Netanyahu or not, Obama was always going to devote the last two years of his administration — his least constrained period of rule — to sticking it to Israel. Thus, as Glick says, we can expect his administration to expand the anti-Israel positions it has already taken:

The U.S. position paper regarding Israeli-Palestinian negotiation that was leaked this past week to Yediot Aharonot made clear the direction Obama wishes to go. That document called for Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, with minor revisions.

In the coming 22 months we can expect the U.S. to use more and more coercive measures to force Israel to capitulate to its position. . . .We can expect the U.S. to make expanded use of European economic warfare against Israel in the coming years, and to continue to give a backwind to the anti-Semitic BDS movement by escalating its libelous rhetoric conflating Israel with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Glick also believes that U.S. cooperation on matters of Israeli defense is in serious jeopardy:

While Obama and his advisers consistently boast that defense and intelligence ties between Israel and the US have grown during his presidency, over the past several years, those ties have suffered blow after blow. During the war with Hamas last summer, acting on direct orders from the White House, the Pentagon instituted a partial – unofficial – embargo on weapons to Israel.

As for intelligence ties, over the past month, the administration announced repeatedly that it is ending its intelligence sharing with Israel on Iran.

Finally, and most importantly, Obama will likely reach a deal with Iran that, by lifting sanctions, will hugely strengthen Israel’s most deadly enemy without meaningfully blocking Iran’s path to becoming a nuclear military power.

Israel elected the right man to cope with Obama’s last-ditch assault — one who is under no illusions about Obama and who has gradually learned how to stand up to him. Even so, the next 22 months will present unprecedented difficulties for Israel, thanks to our anti-Israel president.

Responses