Israel Policy Forum congratulates Israelis on a successful election and Benjamin Netanyahu on his victory that will enable him to have the opportunity to form the next Israeli government. The high turnout across all sectors is a welcome sign that Israeli citizens remain engaged in politics and desire a say in determining the direction of their country despite the frequency of recent elections. We are confident that U.S.-Israel relations are strong enough to withstand the vagaries of politics and that the Biden administration will be informed by its past experience with Netanyahu as prime minister.

While we of course respect the results of Israel’s elections, we have grave concerns about the outcome and its potential implications. A government that rests on the embrace of Kahanists, includes ministers convicted of incitement to terrorism, and openly espouses bigotry toward Israel’s Arab citizens is not cause for celebration. Should Itamar Ben Gvir and his Otzma Yehudit faction be part of the next coalition and wield any measure of power, it will put significant stress on U.S.-Israel relations and challenge the notion of shared values upon which the strength of the relationship is based, while raising deep and legitimate concerns about the robustness of Israeli democracy. Furthermore, it will put any negotiated resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict further out of reach and will damage the vision of a secure, Jewish, and democratic Israel. Respecting democracy does not require us to cheer policies that we abhor, and we reject the notion that Israel is a democracy as a matter of course rather than a democracy because of the policies it adopts.  

We will voice these concerns and raise them with our Israeli friends at every opportunity because of our steadfast belief in Zionism and in Israel as the Jewish people’s homeland, our abiding desire to see Israel remain secure, Jewish, and democratic, and our enduring support of a strong relationship between Israel and the U.S. We remain committed to working with anyone who shares our vision and our principles.