German Press Comments on Israeli Elections

Netanyahu playing with the existential threats Israel is facing, made voters put aside all other burning issues. But, the outcome of the election will come to cost not only Netanyahu dearly, but Israel as a whole. Netanyahu's hard-line stances and his refusal to establish a Palestinian state on his watch will increasingly isolate Israel within the international community.

Netanyahu won the election after Israeli voters, during the last week prior to casting their vote, had considerably shifted to the right, states the weekly Zeit. The paper links Netanyahu's statement that there will be no Palestinian state during his term, to the assumption that the international community will no longer tolerate such conduct. Europe and Germany have been all too patient with Netanyahu's government for all too long. Israel's current election campaign has uncovered Netanyahu's refusal to establish a Palestinian state.

The title of the Berliner Tageszeitung, "Government without Fig Leaf", points to a similar direction. The cards are on the table, concludes the commentator of the Berlin daily. There will be no peace negotiations. Construction in the settlements will continue. The Palestinians, on the other hand, will persist to unilaterally fight for recognition by the international community.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany's leading liberal newspaper, focused on the official reaction of Merkel's government which upholds the position that the ultimate goal of Israeli politics should remain the pursuit of a two-state solution. Merkel's statement was an attempt to drown justified concern in a demonstration of confidence, based on the assumption that Netanyahu's statements have been nothing but pre-election rhetoric. Growing tension between Netanyahu's government and Berlin will, however, not affect the events scheduled to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between both countries. Israel will still be able to rely on the loyal support of the German government.

Several newspapers point to the almost fifty years which have past since Israel won the Six Day War. Israel, then a small country, won against an overpowering number of neighboring Arab states. Since then it has developed into a high tech nation, into a nuclear power and into a country with one of the world's most modern armies. Israel's economy is sound and unemployment rates are low, the Berlin paper Tagesspiegel reminds its readers. The notion "land for peace", comments Zeit on fifty years of occupation, fails to convince many Israelis nowadays. They mainly see Israel being surrounded by hostile forces, a perception which catered to Netanyahu's election strategy of fear.

Also the conservative Welt points out, that Netanyahu had considerably shifted to the right. His apparent reversal regarding a Palestinian state constitutes a breach of Israel's international commitments. Albeit in its commentaries, the paper stresses the realness of threats against Israel, which, however, should be reason enough to attempt and win the trust of its allies.

Without the support of the West, the FAZ argues not even Netanyahu will be capable of guaranteeing Israel's security.

Many German newspapers discuss the likelihood of different coalition scenarios. Netanyahu will substitute the center parties, which he had depended on during his previous term, for religious allies, which are described as "tame and meek", since they lack a serious power base. Other than in Germany, Israeli coalitions are not cumbersomely brokered during explanatory discussions which precede the actual negotiations. In Israel the negotiating parties, being mixed and shuffled, begin to informally talk right away.

Other articles ponder on Moshe Kahlon's possible impact on government policies. He is perceived as the person who will fix Israel's high cost-of-living, solve housing shortage and close social gaps (Spiegel). Many commentators assume that Kahlon will push his luck in the upcoming negotiation process.

Finally, many German papers discuss the alternative of a unity coalition raised by President Rivlin. In light of the country's immense problems, such an option might be a suitable solution. Since Israel's threats are real, the commentator of Welt pleads for a stable government.