Beyond traditional party divisions, there is a fault line running across the usual oppositions of right and left, religious and secular. It is the division between those who are pro- and those who are anti-Netanyahu. The pros justifiably emphasize his experience - especially at the international level -, his success with the vaccination effort, and the total lack of any alternative candidate of his "caliber". Neither Lapid, Ganz, nor Bennet is able to compete with him in these areas.
But his political longevity, unique in Israel’s history, is no accident. Those who are anti-Netanyahu justifiably point to the multiple accusations of corruption that have stained the last years of a prime minister facing a sovereign and independent justice system. Is it reasonable to reappoint a man at risk of conviction? One who is moreover amenable - as experience has shown - to any shift towards the right, any transgression, any alliance... in short to any available political maneuver? Aren’t small religious parties asking for backward steps in gender-equality policy in return for their support? There is a delightful Israeli series called Shtisel on Netflix, which humorously and tenderly describes the life of an Orthodox family in one of Jerusalem’s most religious neighborhoods. Reality, however, is much less forgiving and much more brutal than fiction. To use another TV analogy, one might wonder if Netanyahu isn’t the XXL Black Baron of Israeli politics.
This political paralysis calls the state of democracy in Israel into question, as well as the viability of its electoral system and the functioning of its government. Have the existing divisions between the country’s different communities made Israel ungovernable?
Israel’s political system is all the more dysfunctional and paralyzed because, beyond divisions around Netanyahu himself, and beyond the quasi-structural polarization of Israeli society, there is an electoral system of absolute proportionality that freezes and magnifies these fractures and makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to build stable government majorities.