tv Inside Story Al Jazeera March 18, 2015 2:00am-2:31am EDT
the cost of injustice right here. that's our show for today. thank you for joining us. >> hello, i'm ray suarez. israeli's prime minister found himself in the fight of his political life, as voters turned out in large numbers and were signaling they were ready for change, but just a few hours ago, benjamin netanyahu net declared victory in a close race. right now, it looks a lot like a tie. when the dust settles and a victorious party shapes a coalition that can back the next prime minister, will the voters actually see anything different? was this about security? was it about iran and the threat it poses, or did it come down to pocketbook issues and the
hardships and increasing number of israelis jews and arabs alike are bearing. we'll look at the forces driving the elections in tel-aviv and discuss the way forward for israel at home and on the world stage and find out what any change means to president obama and his goals. israel's election. it's the "inside story." politicians trying to push their own supporters to the polls for a not yet 70-year-old country about the size of new jersey israel has core complicated politics. religious and secular, native born and immigrant, jew, muslim, christian, settler in the occupied territories or supporters of a two state solution with the palestinians
the political spectrum has splintered into an array of small parties and alliances and since israel has a power playry system, the sitting prime minister benjamin netanyahu could lead his likud party to a second place finish and still be the next prime minister. in the last days before the polls opened netanyahu confirmed what many in israel and the united states ever suspected. he declared he did not support a two state solution that would conclude with israel living next to a palestinian state founded on territory seized by israel in 1967 after it fended off an attack from its arab neighbors. we'll look at the vote, what it means to israel, the region and to the israeli-american alliance with al jazeera's dana lewis joining us from tel-aviv. it looks like those political obituaries written for benjamin netanyahu were not just
premature, but flat out wrong. >> i would say here nobody was putting money one way or the other. i mean, all bets were off. you were talking about preelection polls, which only gave the zionist block about a four vote lead and then there were rumors all through the weekend that maybe netanyahu was closing the gap. i don't think anybody went in, the best political commentators that i know would not make a guess one way or the other how this was going to turn out, and then you have these numbers that came out tonight, and we were at the zionist headquarters tonight. they were cheering. they thought that was victory and at netanyahu's party headquarters, they were also celebrating, to a lot of confusion. it will take days for the smoke to clear over this election and find out who is going to be able to form the next government. >> because israel uses a proportional representation
system in order to support the seats, do you have to count every vote before you know who's ahead and behind. >> the exit polls are generally pretty accurate. a minute after 10:00, when the polls closed, 10:00 p.m. local time, we knew basically the two had around 27 seats. those numbers are staying fairly steady as all the votes are counted. the point is neither one is anywhere near that 61 seat majority that you need to be able to form a government where there are 27 seats away all of them have to go out and like a middle east market now start negotiating and back room dealing and trying to pull all those other parties over to them. more than two dozen parties altogether. so netanyahu or hertzog will start offering people different power positions and trying to bring those parties to them, but they'll have to do it quickly, because now the president gets involved.
>> if the final vote totals are very close, is there a rule governing how the president chooses which leader gets the first shot at forming a governing coalition? >> no. there are general died lines. if one of the parties has a large number of votes, or a decent lead over the next with un, then he is kind of bound to go that way, but the rule essentially for the president is go to the party to the leader which has the best chance of forming a coalition government. there are big question marks over that tonight, not only forming the coalition government, but a stable government. if netanyahu was asked to form the next government, there are large questions about how stable that government would be right now. the first vote, you know, would the government come apart at the seams. you have the third party now according to the exit polls that we know so far, the third party is the arab list, those four arab parties that came together
and voted under one list, they ever at least 13 seats, so they also play a very big role now in what goes on. the president has to listen to them and he has to go to each party now and say who will you support and they have to go to the leaders of isaac hertzog, of the sigh i don't knowist unit and benjamin netanyahu of likud and say do you think you can form a government. then he has decisions to make. he has already, ray, if i haven't confused you enough being quoted locally here by the newspaper, the president as saying maybe there should be a national unity government for the stability and long term health of the political system in israel. that is his other option. he can go to the two parties and say you guys work together, form a marriage and do a national unity government. >> al jazeera's dana lewis joined us from tel-aviv, thanks for joining us. >> as we continue our conversation on the issues at stake in this election, and the formation of the next
government, i'm joined now by ori near currently with americans for peace now following a long career as a reporter in israel and professor of peace and development at the university of married. you heard dana talking about stability, but if a national unity government is formed pulling together all of the parties, some which can't stand each other, is it a recipe for nothing happening? >> it is and that is why so little happens in terms of policy in israel. that's why governments don't fulfill their term. i think of the last six governments or so, none of them actually fulfilled their four year term. governments in israel just can't stay intact for a long enough time, because of this instability, because it's this kind of mish-mash of parties that get together to form a coalition. >> professor, i think i'm right
in saying that no party has ever won a majority in the cinecet following an election. one of the big headlines has to be the arab list now being the third largest party. big development? >> it's a big development, not so much because it's the first time they've played that role. frankly when you talk about the election in israel and negotiated ultimately, the oslo agreements in 1993, he actually -- oh he needed to stay in government with the support of the arab parties, and while i think the israeli political field was not receptive to having ministers being arab and arab themselves reluctant to join form ally, he found a way to reach agreement where by they supported him, voted for him and they had a side agreement where they gave certain benefits and they joined. at that time, they played a political role.
i think it's a new phase in arab political empowerment in israel. what we see is they not just came together, they are not likely to stay together, they are ideologically different, and it's very hard to keep them together . the fact is they were willing to do so in order not to lose. we don't know the exact participation level, but occasions are much higher than 2013. >> we'll talk more about what that means for their having a stake in the future of society. when we return, the next parliament is starting to take shape as the votes are tabulated. our guests will help you understand what it means for israel and for its relationship to the united states. stay with us. it's "inside story."
>> welcome back to "inside story" on al jazeera marrying. i'm ray suarez. here's what we can safely say so far about the results from the israeli elections. the polls closed several hours ago. we've been encouraged to watch turnout which looked high in the early polling. what is the list of arab parties becoming the third largest party in the knesset mean down the road, where will the other parties throw their support. will the likud block finish and does netanyahu said virtual promise of permanent control of the lands occupied after the six day war and the yom kippur war promise to cause tension after years of american support for are a palestinian state. still with us, ori nir and shipley
telhami. in the closing hours before the polls opened, prime minister netanyahu said to the voters i promise you no two states. what does that mean? >> well, it means that in the way he answered the question there's still a tiny bit of wiggle room which i think he'll try to use if he becomes prime minister and has to reestablish relations with the international community, which stands behind the idea of a palestinian state. what it does mean is that if he does form and it seems he's going to, a light wing coalition, that position that he holds, but doesn't want to make it public, is one that's going to guide his policies. i think we're going to see more of the same in terms of creating settlements, in terms of not engaging in negotiations with the palestinians toward the two state solution
and, you know, more erosion are prospects for peace. >> do you think there were people on this side of the atlantic who said he said what when he said that? >> no, a lot of people ever suspected he didn't really want a two state solution on this side. in our administration. even going publicly like that at the last minute, you can interpret it as a political risky move that worked out for him. one reason he was able to peel off some of the candidates from other right wing parties to get his big chunk, but still, it does tie his hands. it's not unheard of, the policy change of position and frankly he's accused of doing that too many times, but perhaps because of that, where he seems not to be trusted, he's trying to win over to be part of this
coalition, like the king maker in the next government, i still think it's going to be very hard for him to get out of that early on. there's no trust already with the palestinians. there's no trust already with this administration. you add that to it, nobody wants to test him anymore. they've tried before, it didn't work. i think you're going to see some diplomatic activity, for sure, because nobody gives up, but in the end, strategically they're going to be moving elsewhere. >> tell us about the party, if they get the projected 10 seats that the polls are saying they may, they will hold the balance of a ken necessary knesset majority. >> giving meaning to what these elections were about, you know we tend to look at israel outside of israel through the prism of its relationship with the palestinians, of its relationship with its neighbors and so on. this iran, so on.
this is not what these elections were about. they were about socioeconomic issues and the party received quite a great deal of support because of those positions. it is headed by a formerly minister who became popular because he reformed the cellar market in israel and managed to cut the price of cellular calls by 50%, considered a big hero in israel. his positions are more right leaning than left leaning, but mildly so and he's more inclined to be with likud. >> i agree that he's more likely to go with likud, a former likud member. he's still allied with likud and people on the right, including former foreign minister lieberman. the reality of it is, there are two things. one is the social issues. he's already said even today
that he is going to put a social agenda on the table, i'm going to go with, and number two, the last poll on thursday among those who said they were going to vote for him were asked who would you want him to support as prime minister, more people said hertzog than netanyahu, but he needs a moral argument to be able to make that shift. it would have been that hertzog would ever got more seats than netanyahu and the president would need to go to him first. now, he doesn't have that moral argument to make the switch. i think it's hard for him. i just see that's why i think conventional wisdom still when push comes to shove, he'll probably go to the right, but he's saying is keeping all options open at this point. >> you heard the professor talk earlier about the discomfort among arab members of the knesset who will be taking their seats, about participating in an israeli government.
isn't there going to be a lot of attention placed on them, not only because they're the third largest party in the knesset but because this looks like such a close result. the zionist alliance of labor could govern if they had those 13 seats in their alliance. >> yes, that's true. it is true that they are going to become much more of a player than they used to be before. at the end of the day, as unfortunate as it is, arab kerr net set members are not being taken into account in the actual formation of the coalition because they never have been and will not be, i think members of this coalition. members of coalition in the past, will not be members of this coalition. when it comes to the math, to adding up the seats up to 61, which is what you need in order to govern or to have a coalition, they're not counted. >> if i may add on this with un,
it's not just that they don't want to be part of it, some of them probably prefer to be part of the government, the oths is politics. the sitting prime minister of all israelis and sort of criticizing the mobilization of arab voters as something that goes against him, and clearly in the past, you've heard people say it outright, we need a jewish majority. the people on the left and progressives prefer to make alliance with them and marry writ's tried to make an alliance with the overflow of votes that didn't work out and the arab party is probably responsible for that failing, but there is this ethos that everybody who tries to put a coalition together
tries to get a jewish majority first. >> will some of the stiff resolve among republicans to back israel against iran be weakened by either a weakened netanyahu or a new israeli prime minister? >> frankly, he didn't make a difference. he came here and we saw, i did polling here about, you know the whole crisis. he lost support in the u.s. over the past few months, because the american public turned against him, particularly democrats and republicans, democrats and independents, republicans didn't change much in terms of their attitudes. he didn't sway the debate at all on the nuclear issue. a majority of people still want a deal with iran if one is on the table. >> i agree. i agree.
what worries me, though, is if he, you know, is reelected to become prime minister, forms a coalition, the relationship between the u.s. and israel is going to continue to be very rocky. we're going to continue to see this wrist, i think broadening widening, deepening and that worries me very much. >> whether it's netanyahu or not, or -- >> if it's netanyahu. if there's a new coalition which doesn't seem likely at the moment, but if there's a coalition headed by hertzog, i think there's going to be a lot of mending. >> great to see you both, thanks a lot. >> thank you. >> benjamin netanyahu net's shift to the right may have helped get out the base and finish him over the finish line but likely deepened the divide between him and president obama, when we return, mike vick has the "inside story" on the obama-netanyahu relationship and how the israeli elections might
>> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. for all the attention it got both here and in israel, prime minister netanyahu's recent address before the u.s. congress appears to ever done little to help his political fortunes. on the list of concerns voters brought with them into the polls today, iran and restaining it was behind economic concerns. despite the flap the appearance caused between president obama and the israeli leader, two things are always certain. mr. obama wants a deal with iran and the u.s. will always back israel when it comes to its security. al jazeera's senior national correspondent mike vick joins me now. i'm guessing that they're
watching these votes come in very closely at the white house and the state department. >> you better believe they are staying mum in public. they don't want to be perceived as doing so. benjamin netanyahu is like an american politician who has to placate the base and say things to get them back to the polls and having a hard time to get back to the center right and fix. part of benjamin netanyahu's constituency is the u.s. government, the american public with $3 billion a year in aid and such a vital relationship for israel, which is playing against netanyahu after he was seen as putting that relationship in danger. the question is, will netanyahu be able to come back and fix some of the relations that he has damaged. of course they haven't been that good with the obama administration, growing worse over the last six years. after the speech to congress after his denunciation or
repudiation of the two-state solution that is backed by the u.s. government, i think at this point, if he were to lead a government, whether it be a coalition government or one in anyway way shape or form, it's going to be very difficult for him to work with the administration in any meaningful way over the next few years. >> the prime minister was on record all during the kerry process, all during the cajoling of the head of the palestinian authority, that israel backed a two-state solution. then in the last 48-72 hours of the campaign, here cups the prime minister saying reelect me and you won't have to worry about there being two states. >> it's going to be a very difficult thing for him to reconcile that statement and the history, since 2009, of netanyahu being on record for a two-state solution. the administration from george w. bush, mr. obama's predecessor to the current state of the u.s. government being in favor of a two-state solution. today i was at the white house
and had an opportunity to ask the spokesman there, josh ernest, i said the israeli leader came out against this it's u.s. policy with that where does that leave the peace process, which is already in a shambles. they didn't want to touch that at all. you better believe the administration is watching closely. if you put me on the spot, i'd say it's not a far bet to say they're looking to see the opposition forces take control and they would not be disappointed with size zach zach ertz dog was to take the seat. >> who will be the next prime minister of israel, but you if it is prime minister netanyahu, a weakened prime minister netanyahu, where does this leave the republicans and their opposition to a deal with iran? along with the israeli elections, we're in the closing
days of agreements with iran. >> first and foremost, it's the israel public, but also an audience in the united states, obviously significant, obviously vital to them. a lot of the support that benjamin netanyahu gets here in the united states is predicated on his backing of a two-state solution, which again, he's been on record as supporting for the last six years. what are the ramifications here politically in the united states when he takes that support away? where does that leave his staunchest backers in the united states congress. if you're asking specifically about will this in sense republicans more or will they be more emboldened by netanyahu or stays in the prime minister's office. it's hard to say what republicans can actually do about stopping this thing. the white house is digging in their heels saying congress has no say in this essentially. they're welcome to cult so electric as they support it. you know how that goes. they have a very limited
playbook opposing whatever the president comes up with over the next two weeks in his dealings with iran. >> we have a very short time left. what does this do to the 2016 landscape? benjamin netanyahu showed that he was ready to play games with the bipartisan nature of the israeli-american relationship. can republicans run on this wave wafering? >> it's hard to say. if i were a betting man, i'd say this makes it more difficult for conservative republicans to be seen at staunch reporter of an individual who really made some moves over the course of the last two days that smacked of desperation and flew in the face of the policy he himself had backed for the last six years. >> al jazeera's mike vick, great to have you with us. get in touch on facebook, follow us on twitter, and watch us next time in washington. i'm ray suarez.