The sad story about the election Israel will hold tomorrow is that, no matter what the precise results, the balance of power will be held by a group of legislators contemptuous of the principles of democracy.
Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party seems almost certain to become the country’s third largest parliamentary faction and, as such, a member of whatever ruling coalition the new prime minister forms. Lieberman is not new to the Knesset and he has held cabinet portfolios, but with between 15 and 20 parliamentarians in his faction, he will be far more powerful than he has ever been before. Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni of Kadima and Ehud Barak of Labor already granted Lieberman legitimacy by agreeing to sit in a government with him, but in the new government he will possess both legitimacy and power.
Press reports about Lieberman have focused on his promise to require Israel’s Arab citizens to sign a loyalty oath in order to preserve their citizenship. Stripping citizens of their rights because of their political views and ethnic origin is manifestly anti-democratic, but that’s hardly where it ends….
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