Don’t be fooled by misleading stories about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s disappointing showing in Tuesday’s election in Israel. Even if the centrist Blue and White alliance of former military chief Benny Gantz were to eke out a very narrow victory over Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party, sending Bibi into retirement to face a near-certain indictment on corruption charges, the story of this election is not at all about the retreat of the right.


On the contrary, the most far-reaching consequence of the 2019 Israeli election may well be that it verified, beyond any reasonable doubt, that there is functionally no left left in Israel. It has become a country with a center, a right, and a far right, but no electorally viable left to speak of.


Center-left social democratic parties have been in sharp decline in recent years across the Western world. But nowhere has the collapse been more stunning than in Israel, whose founders and ruling class for the first 30 years of the country’s existence were very deeply linked with the labor movement. Labor has been in retreat ever since the collapse of peace negotiations with the Palestinians in 2000. But its showing on Tuesday was truly astonishing: With 5 percent of the vote, the Israeli Labor Party is now less than two percentage points away from failing to clear the minimum threshold (3.25 percent) for winning seats in the Knesset. The party is approaching the possibility of extinction.


President Trump celebrated Israel’s continued support for their current leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, in this week’s election –