Where next for the left in Israel?
Israeli politics has been viewed by British audiences almost exclusively through the prism of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Regardless of where a British Labour party member stands on the political spectrum or which side of the Israel-Palestine conflict they position themselves, it is likely that most within the Labour family would be able to agree that the situation would be improved with a stronger democratic left in Israel.
Once the dominant force in Israeli politics, the left has experienced a dramatic decline in popularity over the past two decades, spending much of its time divided and/or in opposition. Indeed it can be argued that Israel’s left has not represented a coherent governing power since the death of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
There are now hints of a reversal in this trend and the 2013 election provides an important moment to reflect on the opportunities and challenges facing the centre and broader left political movement in the country. On the one hand the Israeli Labor Party increased their representation in parliament whilst fellow leftist party Meretz doubled theirs. But the election still returned a Netanyahu government. And whilst the rise of the centrist party Yesh Atid represents a thirst amongst Israeli voters for something new, party leader Yair Lapid is by no means a social democrat.
This report seeks to broaden and deepen the British Labour party’s understanding of the political context in Israel and, in particular, the challenges and opportunities currently faced by the political left. It hopes to better develop the kind of shared political understanding and analysis that helps parties of the left win power across the globe.