Which ‘Israel before all’? From the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the Jewish/democratic Left-Right axis

Gayil Talshir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The hyper-election period of 2019–21 marked the climax of Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule and with it the transformation of the Israeli party-system. While most commentators read the political situation as personalisation of the ‘Yes Bibi’/‘No Bibi’ polarisation, this article argues that ideological analysis is necessary to understand the dynamics of the four elections and their structural effects. It argues that the dominant issue on the left/right continuum over the past 50 years–the Palestinian-Israeli conflict–gave way to an internal cleavage between Israel’s nature as a ‘Jewish and democratic state’. Netanyahu’s trial only intensified the National Camp’s thesis of the Deep State, accusing the Left, the civil service and the judicial system of being ‘undemocratic’ and condescending of ‘the people’s will’ while the centre-left bloc defended the ‘Jewish and democratic’ Israel, accusing the Right of offering a ‘Halachic state’. Thus, while the Right emphasised the Jewish people, and Netanyahu’s natural partners were the religious and Haredi parties, the centre-left bloc focused on ‘Israel before all’ (to use the newly formed Blue-and-White party’s slogan). Ideological realignment is thus the key to understanding the changes in Israeli party-system.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)896-916
Number of pages21
JournalIsrael Affairs
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Israel
  • Left-Right
  • identity politics
  • party system change
  • political ideology
  • realignment


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