Israel’s Labor Party Did Great in Election

Ben BirnbaumIn 2011, when then-Labor leader Ehud Barak bolted his own party, obituaries abounded for the party that had built the Israeli state and ruled it unchallenged for four decades. Since the 2000 collapse of the peace process, the party that signed the Oslo Accords had been discredited in the eyes of most Israelis. And in the elections that followed, it ceded the mantle of largest anti-right party first to Kadima and later to Yesh Atid. It contented itself with serving as a junior member of nearly every government.

Last night’s results were a disappointment when compared to the buoyant polls of a few days earlier. But compared to what was expected when Netanyahu called early elections three months ago, it was a miracle. The party’s 24 seats marked its best finish since 1999, when Barak reached the prime minister’s office with 26.

All signs point to Labor joining the opposition. The question is whether the party’s primary voters will reward Isaac Herzog or, as they have more often done, search for a new savior. There will be no shortage of candidates for the role. Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin — one of the subjects of the Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers — is somebody to watch.

—Ben Birnbaum
Benjamin Netanyahu Will Not Win Another Election

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