How Is Netanyahu's Victory Reverberating Across The Region?

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a resounding victory in yesterday's elections, after a very tight race.

His last minute swing even further to the right — saying there would be no Palestinian state as long as he is in power, and telling voters that the left was bussing Arab voters to the polls in droves — seemed to work.

Rami Khouri, editor at large for Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper and senior public policy fellow at the American University of Beirut, tells Here & Now's Robin Young Netenyahu's victory wasn't a surprise at all to him.

"For the last 30 years of so, there has been a steady drift and shift to the right in Israel," Khouri said. "A similar shift by the way, has been going on all around the Arab world."

Khouri says that Netanyahu's challenger — the centrist leader Isaac Herzog — isn't actually much different.

"The platform of the centrist party is not really very centrist," Khouri said. "If you look at their position on for instance the Arab-Israeli issue — they were talking about a united Jerusalem, forever under Jewish, Israeli, Zionist control. They were talking about continuing to build settlements, maybe withdrawing form some. There was really very little difference on the position to ward the Palestinians between the two major parties."

Khouri says the shift toward conservatism in Israeli politics and society is a source of concern for the rest of the region.

"The fear in the Arab world is that we are now seeing the reality, which is a very militant, right-wing, super-nationalist Israeli populist majority that leads Israel democratically," he said. "And this is a huge challenge to the international community who have assumed there will be a negotiation leading to two states, and Netanyahu is saying not in my time."


This segment aired on March 18, 2015.


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