by Ray Fleming

SO Israel's predicted turn to the Right in Tuesday's elections did not take place. Instead a new centrist party, Yesh Atid, emerged strongly on a platform of socio-economic issues including the abolition of exemption from military service of ultra-orthodox Jews. For prime minister Netanyahu the outcome was humiliating as Likud- Beiteinu lost almost one-quarter of its seats in the Knesset and his probable post-election partner, the hard-Right Jewish Home party, was among the also-rans. No wonder Mr Netanyahu panicked on Tuesday and at the last minute resorted to Facebook with the message, “The Likud government is in danger. Go vote for us for the country's future.” The probable interim outcome of the election will be a Netanyahu-led coalition with a more centrist tilt than the expected rightist influence. Yair Lapid, the leader of Yesh Atid, the new party on the block, has talked of the need for “a real and decent centre” and Mr Netanyahu, ever the opportunist, hurried to tell him “we can do great things together”. All that can be said about this election is that in the short-term it has probably slowed down the extremist anti-Palestinian settlement activists in furthering their plans and also halted opposition to peace negotiations with the Palestinians should President Obama actively support these. But already another election is to be seen on the horizon.

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