BEIRUT – Winds of rightist political extremism are blowing through the election campaign in Israel these days. Some two weeks before the elections, it appears that the Israeli arena is becoming more extreme and divided.
On one side of the arena is a strong camp that consolidates the rightist factions, which show solidarity with the religious parties. On the other side of the spectrum is the divided camp of Left-Center parties, which have lost a significant amount of their strength over the years. This asymmetry ahead of the upcoming elections raises doubts as to the Left-Center camp's ability to survive, particularly in light of the death of the pace agreements and the bitter fate of the two-state solution.
The spike in the popularity of the rightist parties does not stem from any specific achievements of the Netanyahu-led coalition. Rather, it is a result of two processes: The first is the failure of the agreements signed between the Israeli leftist camp and the Palestinian leadership; the other is the political instability in the neighboring Arab countries.
The uncertainty regarding the political situation in the Arab countries has caused many Israelis to endorse the political logic of the Right, which preaches against concessions and political compromises and stresses Israel's need to protect itself from the dangers lurking in the region, even at the price of restricting the individual and collective freedoms of its citizens.
The Israelis take pride in these elections, but the effects a victory for the extreme Right would have on the lives of Israelis as individuals are known to all, as are the ramifications of the foreign policy of any rightist government that is established.
From the perspective of the Palestinians - and the Arab world in general - I do not believe a victory for the Right would be any worse than a victory for the Zionist leftist camp. The Palestinians are paying the price for the settlement policy, which was initiated by Labor-led governments in the 1970s. They are paying the price for the seizure of their lands following the Six Day War, which was waged by a Labor-led government.
Labor's attitude has changed over the years - particularly during the Yitzhak Rabin era, when Israel realized that the conflict with the Palestinians could not be resolved by force and signed the Oslo Accords – but the current political reality in Israel indicates that this historic period is on the verge of dissipating completely.
The entire Israeli public will pay the price of a rightist political victory, as it will spark a final movement toward principles based on extremism, zealotry and opposition to a plurality of views within society. The Palestinians, for their part, will also pay a heavy price, as their right to freedom and a respectable life in their own independent state will continue to be denied.
Randa Haidar is a Lebanese political analyst. Her article was published in the Al-Nahar newspaper and was translated to Hebrew as part of a project initiated by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the I`lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel in Nazareth