The forty-one-year-old Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home) has sent shock waves through the Israeli political system by drawing support from Orthodox Jewish voters who had cast their ballot for the Likud in the past. Bennett has dismissed the two-state solution and wants to annex parts of the West Bank. He represents the future of the nationalist and religious bloc in the same way that Lapid is now the most authentic voice of the remnants of Israel’s secular-liberal tradition.
But then, with the ultra-Orthodox Jews constituting a fourth of Israeli voters in the next decade, the electoral prospects of a more nationalist and theocratic right-wing bloc look quite promising. At the same time, the center-left Zionist parties will probably be deprived of a potential source of electoral growth in the Israeli-Arabs. Like the ultra-Orthodox Jews, they would compose a quarter of Israeli voters in a few years, but are demanding that Israel modify, if not discard, its identity as a Jewish state and become a state “for all its citizens.” Lapid believes that Israel could still remain a Jewish and western democratic state.
But without any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict any time soon, the prospects of Israel turning into a militarized Jewish ghetto will grow as the dreams of a prosperous and westernized Greater Tel Aviv vanish into thin air. If Lapid joins the Israeli government, he will have more power to reverse or at least slow this process. There is a future, but it is not clear that Lapid holds it.
Leon Hadar, senior analyst at Wikistrat, a geostrategic consulting group, is the author of Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East.
Image: Flickr/James Cridland. CC BY 2.0.