Israel has no constitution. Basic Laws substitute. One defines the "Powers and Functions of the Knesset." It's elected by "general, national, direct, equal, secret and proportional elections in accordance with Knesset Elections Law."
Israel's Central Elections Committee overseas procedures. It's composed of Knesset members. A Supreme Court justice chairs it. It authorizes parties, election financing, vote counting, publishing results, and appeals when called for.
Israeli citizens aged 18 or older may vote. Those 21 or older may seek office. Exceptions include career active duty soldiers, high-ranking civil servants, and convicted felons serving terms exceeding three months. Seven years after they expire, full citizenship rights are restored.
Israeli Arabs are enfranchised in name only. They make seek office and serve if elected. They have no policymaking authority. They're little more than potted plants.
The 1992 Law of Political Parties and section 7A(1) of the Basic Law constrains them. Candidates denying "the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people" may not run. Those elected may not serve.
They're prohibited from challenging Israel's Jewish character. Arabs can't demand equal rights, privileges and justice.
Zionist extremism is policy. Jews alone are served. Israeli Arabs are marginalized and denied. They're considered fifth column threats.
Knesset seats are assigned proportionately according to each party's percentage of votes gotten. A minimum 2% is required to get any.
Israel's Basic Law states:
"The Knesset is the house of representatives (the parliament) of the State of Israel, in which the full range of current opinions are represented."
Israel has separate executive and judicial branches. Knesset members (MKs) supervise "the work of the Government through its committees and the work of the plenum."
"The Knesset has several quasi-judicial functions, which include the power to lift the immunity of its members, and the power to have the President of the State and State Comptroller removed."
"The Knesset also has an elective function through which several public officials are elected."
"Once every seven years, the Knesset elects the President of the State and the State Comptroller."
"Every Knesset elects two of its members to represent it on the Committee for the Appointment of Judges."
"Representatives of the Knesset participate in the election of dayanim (Jewish religious judges) and kaddis (Muslim and Druze religious judges), and by means of the House Committee the Knesset also elects five of its members to represent it on the elective body of the Chief Rabbinical Council."
Prime ministers are heads of state. Israeli presidents are ceremonial figureheads. MKs elect them for one seven year term. On July 15, 2007, they chose Shimon Peres.
Following elections, he'll consult with dominant party leaders. At issue is establishing coalition government partners. Leaders of parties winning most seats generally become prime ministers.
On January 22, Israelis voted. At stake were 120 19th Knesset seats. The process repeats quadrennially unless snap elections are called.
Netanyahu chose them nine months early. Doing so he thought was advantageous. Results weren't as good as planned. He won but with fewer seats than expected. Final results showed a near dead heat.
No party gains a majority. Coalitions run Israel. No party ever won more than 56 seats. At least 61 comprise a majority.
Negotiations follow elections. They can take days, weeks, or at times longer. The process begins now.
Final results are as follows:
Extremist right-wing parties:
Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu - 31 seats
Habayit Hanyeudi - 11
Otzma Leyisrael - 0
Hayisraelim - 0
Extremist ultra-Orthodox parties:
Shas - 11
United Torah Judaism - 7
Am Shalem - 0
Koah Lehashpia - 0
Largely Right-of-Center "Centrists:"
Yesh Atid - 19
Labor - 15
Meretz - 6
Hatnuah - 6
Kadima - 2
Eretz Chadasha - 0
The Greens - 0
Aleh Yarok - 0
United Arab List - Ta'al - 5
Hadash - 4
Balad - 3
More than 5.65 million Israelis were eligible to vote. Around 3.6 million did so. Turnout was 63.7%. Results were 4% higher than 2009.
Whatever parties partner in coalition government, one thing is clear. Israel's 19th Knesset will be its most extremist in history. What's called center-left is right-wing to hard-right.
All dominant parties support belligerence, occupation ruthlessness, settlement expansions, and neoliberal harshness.
Israelis have four more years to reflect on their choices. Palestinians and Israeli Arabs have the greatest cross to bear.
Media postmortems followed. Haaretz calls Netanyahu "a man of the past." On January 23, Israelis awoke to "uncertainty." Voting ended but not the election.
Israelis expressed less confidence in Netanyahu than he hoped. Partnered with Avigdor Lieberman lost him support.
He "failed," said Haaretz. He "failed in the political sphere, the foreign policy sphere, and the socioeconomic sphere."
His leadership failed. He "cast(s) a pall over us if he survives in power." Most Israelis distrust him for good reason. He represents a direction most reject.
At the same time, likely coalition partners will continue it. Hardline extremists run Israel. Election results changed little. Things changed but stayed the same.
Haaretz commentators had their say. Aluf Benn said Netanyahu failed "because he had nothing much to say." He didn't offer Israelis hope.
His campaign was "pathetic." Instead of platform provisions, he "made do with promising to be a 'strong prime minister.' "
Instead of addressing public needs, he spurned them. He partnered with ultranationalist Lieberman. Last May, Time magazine crowned him "King Bibi." Its editors may have second thoughts.
Chemi Levy discussed "Bibi's blunders." He's the "victim of his own success." Relative "quiet and security" let Israelis focus on socioeconomic issues. He ignored what they most want.
His policies increase international isolation. Partnering with Lieberman "turned out to be match in hell."
Expect him to remain prime minister. Uneasy sits his crown. His slim majority "may turn out to be extremely unwieldy." He's beholden to lunatic right wing elements. Empowering them makes Israelis losers. They have themselves to blame.
On election day, Bradley Burston urged Israelis to "vote as if your life depended on it. It does," he said.
"I intend to vote the hell out of this election. I intend to vote us the hell out of the occupation. I intend to kick Netanyahu in his kitsch and his slime and his cowardice and the way he'll hold on to the leather chair until we the people pry it from his cold, dead hands."
A follow-up article reflected his "pyrrhic victory."
In a matter of months, said Burston, "King Bibi managed to plummet to victory in a technical triumph that has every appearance of debacle."
On January 22 when polls closed, his "ship of state limped into port at 10PM." It "leak(ed) from stem to stern." Its "sails (were) torn and slack." Its "crew (was) restive and growing mutinous."
Imagine what Israelis now face going forward. Imagine what Palestinians and Israeli Arabs can expect. Regional neighbors have cause for concern. So does humanity with him in charge.
He elevates rogue government to a higher level. He threatens war on Iran. Doing so will embroil the entire region in conflict. He's mindless of likely consequences. Israelis are stuck with him for four more years. They have themselves to blame.
Gideon Levy discussed what Israelis "really want: to be left in peace." King Bibi "turned out to be almost naked."
"A hollow election campaign has resulted in an equally empty result - a bit of everything and a lot of nothing."
Ballot choices were few. Hardliners run Israel. Left-of-center parties are few and far between. Support afforded them is meager.
"A new day is dawning upon us," said Levy. It's "a dawn of a day in which (Israelis want) to be left alone." They'll be sorely disappointed. Post-election quiet conceals Israel heading toward "the abyss."
A Final Comment
Don't expect The New York Times to explain. It's unapologetic about Israeli crimes. It ignores them.
TimesSpeak claims no Gaza siege, no occupation, and no Nakba. Israeli slaughter and ethnic cleansing never happened. Palestinians bear full responsibility. They have themselves to blame.
The newspaper of record is on record for lying. It's official policy. So is reinventing history.
On January 22, it headlined "Charismatic Leader Helps Israel Turn Toward the Center."
It profiled Yair Lapid. His Yesh Atid party won 19 of 120 Knesset seats. Doing so changes nothing. Haaretz calls him an Israeli Chuck Norris and professional dilettante.
His rhetoric belies his politics. He supports right-wing extremism. He may join Netanyahu's coalition.
The Times called him "good look(ing) and suave." He's a prominent journalist. He hosts a popular television show. So did Rush Limbaugh before focusing on radio. Other rogue talking heads replaced him on TV.
The Times praised a man deserving condemnation. He's a "notorious wannabe," said Haaretz. He's a ne'er-do-well. He lacks a high school education. He gets his facts wrong. He combines bravado and kitsch.
He calls himself the "ultimate Israeli." He crafted an all-Israeli image. He elevated himself by befriending Israeli elites. His jump to politics was an overnight sensation. He substitutes catch phrases for substance.
His speeches asked rhetorical questions. He focused on "change," "hope," and "new politics." Explanations, clarifications, and specifics didn't follow.
He models himself after Obama. He's more con man than legitimate. He's more image and mirage than real. Sub-surface, he's shallow. When asked tough questions, he ducks them.
He hopes one day to be prime minister. Israelis will have final say. Going forward, they've already got a great enough cross to bear.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.