First of all, there is Likud-Beitenu. Likud alone was bad enough. The addition of Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beitenu makes it even more destructive.
I agree with President Barack Obama that Netanyahu is leading us to certain disaster. His total rejection of peace, the obsession with the settlements, the deepening of the occupation -- all these are turning Israel (Israel proper, not just the occupied territories) inexorably into an apartheid state. Already in the outgoing Knesset, abominable anti-democratic laws have been passed. Now that all the moderate Likud members have been purged, this process will be accelerated.
With Lieberman and his acolytes joining the Likud, things look even more dangerous. Netanyahu will have to posture and act even more extremely, for fear of losing the leadership to Lieberman, who is now No. 2. It is quite probable that Lieberman will still succeed in replacing him somewhere along the road.
The emergence of Naftali Bennett as the star of the elections makes matters even more desperate. It seems to be a rule on the Israeli right that nobody is so extreme that another cannot be found who is even extremer.
THE NEXT group to be struck off the list is the religious one. It consists mainly of two parties: the Ashkenazi "Torah Jewry" and the Sephardi Shas.
Both used to be quite moderate in matters of peace and war. But those days are long gone. Generations of a narrowly ethnocentric, xenophobic education have spawned a leadership of rabid nationalist rightists. Bennett, too, was brought up in this camp.
As if this was not enough, these parties want to impose on us the Jewish Halacha, much as their Muslim counterparts want to impose the Sharia. They oppose almost automatically all progressive ideas, such as a written constitution, separation between synagogue and state, civil marriage, same sex marriage, abortion and what not. Off the list.
OF A different caliber are the self-styled "Center" parties.
The largest is the Labor Party under Shelly Yachimovich, which now stands at about 15%.
I must confess that I have never liked Shelly very much, but that should not influence my vote. She can (and sure does) boast of several achievements. She has taken a moribund party and turned it into a live force again. She has found new and attractive candidates.
The trouble is that she has helped to eradicate peace from the national agenda. She has made overtures to the settlers and their allies. Although she has paid the obligatory lip service to the "two-state solution," she has done absolutely nothing to further it. Her sole concern is with what she calls "social justice."
She has promised not to join a Netanyahu-Lieberman government. Experience has taught us not to take such pre-election promises too seriously -- there is always a "national emergency" lurking round the corner -- but even as head of the opposition, a peace-denier can do a lot of damage. Sorry, not for me.
Shelly's main competitor is Tzipi. On the face of it, Livni is the exact opposite. Her main and almost sole election plank is the resumption of negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas.
Fine, but Tzipi and her former boss, Ehud Olmert, were in power for almost four years, during which they started two wars (Lebanon II and Cast Lead) and did not come even close to peace. Why believe her now?
I have never heard Tzipi utter a single word of sympathy or compassion for the Palestinian people. My suspicion is that she is really interested in a an endless Peace Process, not in peace itself.
AN INTERESTING character in these elections is Ya'ir Lapid.