Embarrassed Likud officials were quick to talk about blocs last night. Well, here is one clear assertion that can be established through the thick fog of these undecided elections: Even at its worst moment, when it's beaten, eulogized, and devoid of fighting spirit, Israel's center-Left bloc still won more than 50 mandates.
There are graver political disasters. The one thing that should be done is change this bloc's name; it would be better to refer to it as the "moderate bloc." There isn't really a centrist bloc in Israel. Kadima is using this term for electoral branding purposes, yet during the campaign Tzipi Livni consistently expressed more dovish views than the ones expressed by the Labor party leader.
The split was and remains between two blocs – the parties that support diplomatic compromise and the ones that object to it.
And, by the way, the actual numbers show a much tighter race between the two blocs. As opposed to the past, all the significant parties that failed to pass the election threshold this time around enjoyed the support of the moderate bloc. The Pensioners' Party, the Green Movement – Meimad, the Green Party, Ephraim Sneh, and Green Leaf likely wasted about 100,000 votes altogether – this equals more than three lost mandates.
This is an amazing phenomenon. Almost a decade after the Camp David tragedy and the Intifada, with Hamastan in Gaza and ceaseless Qassam attacks on the south, members of the moderate bloc refuse to give up the struggle for the country's helm.
This week too, at the moment of truth, they stepped up. Benjamin Netanyahu failed to neutralize their commitment. He conducted himself in a more stately and cautious manner than ever before, while investing immense efforts in reducing the antagonism of members of the moderate camp towards him in the past two years. To a large extent, he succeeded. However, the moderate camp is no longer motivated by hatred to Netanyahu the person, but rather, it ideologically recoils from the diplomatic rejectionism he represents.
For the past month, under Lieberman's threatening shadow and Shas' bear hug, Netanyahu managed an elections campaign that contradicted any political logical. Instead of breaking to the Center, he broke to the Right. Instead of blurring radical positions, he clarified them. Hesitant voters in the moderate camp, who saw him joining forces with Effie Eitam, erasing Dan Meridor from elections posters, and rushing to plant a tree on the Golan Heights, understood who and what they're dealing with.
His refusal to leave a narrow, vague ray of hope for negotiations with the Syrians made him an unacceptable candidate in their view. Their "just not Bibi" did not just come from the gut; it came from the left lobe of their brain.