Although pollsters had predicted a tightly contested election, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday stormed to a surprisingly decisive victory over Isaac Herzog, leader of the Zionist Union party, to claim his third consecutive term in office and fourth overall. Herzog’s center-left alliance of the Labor and Hatnua parties ran an anti-Netanyahu campaign and pledged domestic reforms and resumed peace talks with the Palestinian people. The alliance had appeared to surge in recent weeks, but in the end secured only 24 seats in the next Parliament, while Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party, which took hard-line stances against the formation of a Palestinian state and a U.S.-brokered nuclear deal with Iran, won 30 seats. Under Israel’s splintered, multiparty system, candidates must cobble together a coalition with one or more parties to secure a 61-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament, and install a prime minister. Netanyahu is now expected to far surpass that threshold through coalitions with other conservative, Orthodox, and right-leaning parties before the March 31 swearing-in.Stephen Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs and faculty chair of the International Security Program at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The Gazette interviewed Walt, a critic of U.S. foreign policy toward Israel, by email about the election and what the results mean both for Israel and for the United States. GAZETTE: The conventional wisdom was that this would be a very, very close election and that there was a real possibility that the Zionist Union could win. Are you surprised by the results, particularly Netanyahu’s wide margin of victory?WALT: Netanyahu has always been an adroit campaigner, and he pulled out all the stops in the closing days. Israeli public-opinion polling is also notoriously unreliable, which helps explain why the final results diverged from pre-election predictions.GAZETTE: What do you make of Netanyahu’s recent public disavowal of a two-state solution to the Palestinian question? Was it a political gambit designed to shore up support in the late days of a tight race, or are we seeing his true, long-held view revealed for the first time?WALT: The Likud Party is committed to creating a “Greater Israel,” and Netanyahu has always opposed a two-state solution. He opposed the Oslo peace process in the 1990s, and the “Palestinian state” that he sketched in his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University wasn’t a genuine state at all, just a set of disconnected Bantustans under total Israeli control. His rejection of a two-state solution last week was a political gambit, but it was also a reflection of long-held personal convictions.GAZETTE: What does that remark, coupled with his accusations that the Zionist Union bused in Israeli Arab voters to vote with them — a remark seen by some as a racially motivated scare tactic — portend for the prospect of unified government moving forward?WALT: His tactics in the election are likely to polarize Israeli society further, which is not what that country needs today. Even worse, his actions called attention to the deep racial inequalities within Israel, and the lack of any clear strategy for achieving a just and peaceful solution with the Palestinians and broader acceptance within the region. This issue, rather than any threat from Iran, is the main challenge that Israel will face in the years ahead.GAZETTE: National security was once again a defining issue. What does a Netanyahu victory mean for Israel domestically and internationally?WALT: Netanyahu made it clear that we should expect more of the same: more settlements, steadfast opposition to any sort of Palestinian state, and continued warnings about Iran. These issues have been the core of his agenda for two decades, and there is little reason to expect his position to change significantly.GAZETTE: Who is the Likud Party most likely to form a governing coalition with?WALT: The Likud’s obvious partners are Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home Party, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu (both much weaker after this election), and a number of smaller religious parties. He may also be joined by former Likud Party member Moshe Kahlon, who campaigned on the need for economic reform and whose centrist Kulanu Party did very well.GAZETTE: What was at stake in this election, and where does it fit historically in terms of significance compared with past elections?WALT: This election was noteworthy for several reasons. First, in order to fend off a surprisingly potent campaign by the Herzog-Livni Zionist Union Party, Netanyahu tilted sharply right. He openly rejected the creation of any kind of Palestinian state and described voting by Israel’s own Arab citizens as a serious threat. Most observers will rightly conclude that the idea of a “two-state solution” between Israel and the Palestinians is finished; the problem is that the only alternatives to two states are either a bi-national democracy or some sort of apartheid. Second, Zionist Union had vowed to reverse Israel’s declining international standing; Netanyahu’s victory is unlikely to stop this worrisome trend. Third, economic inequality has been rising rapidly inside Israel, and the next government will have to take steps to address it. Finally, this is the first election when Israel’s various Arab parties united to field a “joint list,” and this step could presage a broader public campaign for Palestinian civil rights within Israel itself and within the Occupied Territories.GAZETTE: How is this election likely to affect relations between Israel and the United States going forward?WALT: The outcome will not be as important as most people think. Although relations between Netanyahu and the Obama administration have been strained, the underlying problems between Washington and Jerusalem are structural, not personal. Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and its de facto control over Gaza are sharply at odds with core U.S. values, the two governments disagree about the best way to deal with Iran’s nuclear research program, and the other gaps between U.S. and Israeli interests are becoming more apparent over time. The two states will continue to cooperate on a number of issues, but frictions are likely to continue no matter who is prime minister in Israel and who is president here.GAZETTE: In Foreign Policy [magazine], you recently characterized the U.S.-Israel relationship as “dysfunctional.” What did you mean by that?WALT: It is dysfunctional because it is so one-sided. The U.S. gives Israel generous economic, military, and diplomatic support no matter what its government does, and American politicians will not utter even the mildest of criticisms because they fear the political clout of AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] and other groups in the Israel lobby. This situation damages U.S. standing around the world, increases the terrorism problem, undermines U.S. non-proliferation efforts, and forces every administration to devote disproportionate attention to a relatively small state. This situation has been equally harmful to Israel, as it has allowed Israel to continue policies — such as settlement-building — that are not in its own long-term interest.
(ESPN) On Arsenal’s side, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang shined by scoring twice in the empty Wembley Stadium. He scored Arsenal’s only two goals in the win (Pulisic scored for Chelsea). The win gives Arsenal a record 14 FA Cup final victories. Arsenal has now won four FA Cup finals in the past seven years.FOURTEEN. TIMES. 🏆 #HeadsUpFACupFinal | @EmiratesFACup— 🎗 Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 1, 2020🏆 1930🏆 1936🏆 1971🏆 1979🏆 1993🏆 1998🏆 2002🏆 2003🏆 2005🏆 2014🏆 2015🏆 2017🏆 202014 #FACup wins! 👏Nobody has won it more than Arsenal 🔴 pic.twitter.com/RFqZAbWv0M— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) August 1, 2020″Credit to the lads for a fantastic cup run, it just wasn’t our day today,” Chelsea said on Twitter.FA CUP FINAL NEWS:AFTV caught celebrating Christian Pulisic’s injury in FA Cup finalChristian Pulisic makes history with Chelsea goalFA Cup final highlightsChristian Pulisic gives Chelsea 1-0 leadCHRISTIAN PULISIC GIVES CHELSEA THE LEAD INSIDE FIVE MINUTES! pic.twitter.com/PIB2hDymW1— ESPN (@espn) August 1, 2020Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ties it upSpot on, @Aubameyang7 🎯 #HeadsUpFACupFinal #ARSCHE pic.twitter.com/qxgcVgitIY— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) August 1, 2020Aubameyang with go-ahead goalAUBA AT THE DOUBLE! 🤩 #HeadsUpFACupFinal #ARSCHE pic.twitter.com/UhHGwMU0rm— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) August 1, 2020FA Cup final: Chelsea vs. Arsenal score(All times Eastern)Final score: Arsenal 2, Chelsea 12:34 — ARSENAL WINS!2:30 — Yet another man down for Chelsea as Pedro Rodriguez suffers an apparent shoulder injury. He’s laid down on the pitch for several minutes after the game entered extra time. Pedro was later carried off on a stretcher as the game entered its 100th minute.2:21 — Seven minutes of extra time has been added.2:05 — Things are getting bad for Chelsea.Kovacic picked up his second yellow card, sending him off. That leaves Chelsea a man down and a goal down. Not to mention Chelsea has already dealt with injury problems in this game with the exits of Pulisic and Azpilicueta.Chelsea are down to 10 men!Kovacic is sent off after bringing down Xhaka #HeadsUpFACupFinal 🔴 1-1 🔵 (74)— 🎗 Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 1, 20201:55 — WE HAVE ANOTHER GOAL!Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang knocks through his second goal of the day, giving Arsenal a 2-1 lead over Chelsea. His goal was scored in the 67th minute of play.AUBA AT THE DOUBLE! 🤩 #HeadsUpFACupFinal #ARSCHE pic.twitter.com/UhHGwMU0rm— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) August 1, 20201:40 — A massive blow to Chelsea as Christian Pulisic is done for the day with what looks like a pulled hamstring.Pulisic kept on running even after pulling the hamstring ! RESPECT , #FACupFinal pic.twitter.com/cof1U34LJY— GOAT FC ❼ (@ReallyaGoat) August 1, 2020Christian Pulisic exits the #FACupFinal with an apparent hamstring injuryGet well soon 🙏 pic.twitter.com/fcKBNSZMQS— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 1, 2020Pedro Rodriguez came in to replace Pulisic. This is now the second injury to Chelsea after Azpilicueta exited in the first half. 1:30 — Second half play has begun.Halftime recap — The FA Cup final is tied at 1-1 between Chelsea and Arsenal.Christian Pulisic got things started off early with a historic goal, giving Chelsea a 1-0 lead at the five-minute mark. Pepe would later score a tying goal, but it wasn’t counted as an offside negated the goal.Shortly after, however, Chelsea’s Azpilicueta picked up a yellow card, giving Arsenal a penalty kick. Aubameyang took the kick and made the goal, tying things up. Azpilicueta would get injured, forcing Chelsea into a first-half substitution. Christensen replaced Azpilicueta. Cesar Azpilicueta injury https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/60/c4/cesar-azpilicueta-injury_6rlzxble6bjq1pwpvf41fv514.png?t=-1425946773&w=500&quality=801:01 — Some fun history regarding the goals scored so far in this one.Former teammates at Dortmund. Friends. FA Cup final goal scorers. pic.twitter.com/oGm55y5uho— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 1, 20201:00 — ANOTHER GOAL!Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converts the penalty kick and scores in the 30th minute.Spot on, @Aubameyang7 🎯 #HeadsUpFACupFinal #ARSCHE pic.twitter.com/qxgcVgitIY— The Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) August 1, 202012:58 — There’s some action going on now. A yellow card was handed to Cesar Azpilicueta after he took down Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. As a result, a penalty kick was given to Arsenal.12:57 — Arsenal gets the tying score from Nicolas Pepe … but it doesn’t count. The goal was ruled offside and therefore not a legal goal.What a hit by Pepe, Shame it was disallowed for offside: pic.twitter.com/31chtavokE— ⭐️™ (was San) (@GargantuanFC) August 1, 202012:48 — Arsenal gets a free kick near Chelsea’s goal, but is unable to take advantage. Dani Ceballos took the kick, but the ball sailed just over the net.12:37 — AND WE HAVE OUR FIRST SCORE!Christian Pulisic gets Chelsea on the board early with a goal within the first five minutes of play. At 4:58 in the game, Pulisic is able to weave his way around the defense in order to get the first goal of the game. (Getty Images) Arsenal won the FA Cup final over Chelsea on Saturday with a 2-1 victory.Chelsea faced a number of obstacles in the loss. For starters, Cesar Azpilicueta left the game with an injury in the first half. As the second half started, Christian Pulisic suffered an apparent hamstring injury, ending his day. Later in the second half, Mateo Kovacic picked up a second yellow card, leaving Chelsea down a man as play resumed down the stretch. https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/bb/97/chelsea-arsenal-halftime-ftr_16f3n7a7aq1wv133cyp5kyczv5.png?t=-1424580741&w=500&quality=801:22 — We’ve now reached halftime.1:17 — Five minutes of extra time was added.1:05 — We have a slight break in the action now as Cesar Azpilicueta is down with an injury. Chelsea is forced into a first-half substitution as Azpilicueta leaves. Replacing him is Andreas Christensen. In addition to giving Chelsea the 1-0 lead, Pulisic made history. He became the first U.S. international to score in an FA Cup final.Christian Pulisic makes it look easy. #FACupFinal pic.twitter.com/jUwbsg8Fsv— Sporting News (@sportingnews) August 1, 202012:30 — And the main event is underway. Christian Pulisic has an opportunity to secure his first major trophy if Chelsea is able to win today.Noon — We’re a half-hour away from the start of the FA Cup final. Chelsea and Arsenal are both ready for the big game.Warm-up time at Wembley! 💪 #HeadsUpFACupFinal pic.twitter.com/xgt5YWKbpX— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 1, 2020🕹 𝗚𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗠𝗼𝗱𝗲⚪️ OFF🔘 ON #HeadsUpFACupFinal pic.twitter.com/WIgZla5t9q— 🎗 Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 1, 2020