web analytics
February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Special Features
Sponsored Post


Likud Beitenu’s Political Juggernaut

TEL AVIV – Political pundits have long debated who is the real Benjamin Netanyahu. Is he a pragmatist handcuffed by his right-wing support base and fealty to his late father’s nationalist vision? Is he a true right-wing ideologue whose apparent concessions to Israeli-Palestinian peace are but feints?

Or is he merely a political survivor willing to do whatever it takes to stay in office, ideology be damned?

Last week’s surprise announcement that Netanyahu’s Likud Party and Avigdor Lieberman’s nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party would merge their candidate slates in the upcoming election – but not merge their parties – offers some signs that the smart money is on the right-wingers.

The move deals a potential knockout blow to Netanyahu’s left-wing rivals and makes a third term for Netanyahu more likely than ever. Some polls show the two parties losing seats as a result of the deal, but even low estimates predict them to be the Knesset’s largest list.

Lieberman’s nationalist agenda also will likely gain further traction in the next government. That agenda has included legislation requiring loyalty oaths for new non-Jewish Israeli citizens and a ban on settlement boycotts – moves that many Israeli and American Jewish critics have slammed as undemocratic.

“The real government reform starts now,” Lieberman said at a news conference Thursday night. “We advance to finish the work.”

Critics worry that with the merger, Netanyahu has unambiguously embraced Lieberman’s hard-line domestic platform.

“The prime minister is essentially signaling that he has chosen the extremist, pro-settlement right, that he has chosen to walk in place, not to make progress in the diplomatic process,” Zehava Gal-On, head of the left-wing Meretz party, told Israel’s Army Radio, according to Reuters.

Not that the Orthodox parties will be happy with the deal.

Lieberman, a secular immigrant from the former Soviet republic of Moldova, is one of Israel’s most prominent anti-haredi politicians. He wants Israel to allow civil marriage in addition to religious marriage, and he has railed against government privileges granted to haredim. The current coalition’s tensest moments came this past summer when Lieberman and the haredi parties battled over whether to require army service for haredi youths who had previously received exemptions to study Torah.

In that battle, Netanyahu sided with the haredim, breaking up the committee assigned to draft a new military service law.

The merger represents a real triumph for Lieberman. He founded Yisrael Beiteinu in 1999 as a right-wing party for Russian constituents, then quickly broadened its appeal. In 2009, when Israel last held elections, Yisrael Beiteinu won 15 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, becoming the nation’s third-largest party. Lieberman was awarded the coveted post of foreign minister, which he will retain should the joint list lead the next government.

In the elections scheduled for Jan. 22, Netanyahu’s party was previously expected to win a plurality of votes, but there has been talk among Israel’s left and centrist parties of creating an alliance to challenge Likud. Since the elections were announced, rumors have swirled about former prime minister Ehud Olmert or former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, both of the centrist Kadima Party, returning to politics and uniting a joint center-left list.

HaLikud Beiteinu, however, is expected to win more votes than any center-left party. Polls before the merger showed Likud winning 29 seats and Yisrael Beiteinu winning close to its current 15 seats. One poll following the merger showed the new list winning 42 seats, while another put it at 35 – still much greater than the 23 predicted for the left-wing Labor Party.

Under the agreement, the parties will join for the election but remain independent after the vote. Lieberman will be No. 2 on the list, behind Netanyahu.

Some Likud politicians, led by Michael Eitan, opposed the move because of discomfort with Lieberman’s ideology as well as concern the party will lose seats in the election. But a Likud Central Committee vote approved the merger.

“The time has come to unite for the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said during the news conference announcing the merger. “We ask for a mandate to lead Israel with strength.”

He said the beefed-up party would allow him to more effectively combat Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, fight terrorism, and make domestic social and economic changes. Netanyahu said reducing the cost of living in Israel is one of his top priorities.

(JTA)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Likud Beitenu’s Political Juggernaut”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
18,000 Iranian Centrifuges
Reducing Iran’s Number of Centrifuges Makes a Bomb More Likely
Latest Special-features Stories
The Anglo Vote Play Screen

LIVE – Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015 – Political candidates from the parties battle it out – in English – for your vote.

The State Comptroller and Ombudsman will release his report on the housing crisis at 6 p.m. (11 a.m. EST) Wednesday night. The report will cover the Olmert and Netanyahu administrations, letting Tzipi Livni and Yitzchak Herzog off the hook. They were Ministers of Housing in the Sharon government. The Likud party is concerned that the […]

Election Debate Photos with Logo

The evening begins with a dairy reception at 6:30 PM, and the conversations and debate begin at 7:30 PM.

Everyone goes off the deep end and accuses the other of everything under the sun.

If the “Boycott Yesha” movement is true to its ideology, its cheerleaders won’t vote March 17.

The office of the State Comptroller and Ombudsman stated Sunday that it will release the report on the housing crisis before the elections and possibly by the end of the week. A decision on the exact date of relapse will be made in the next couple of days. Israel’s anti-Netanyahu establishment media and the Herzog-Livni […]

The parties keep trading seats back and forth, but the right-left blocks remain the same.

The other leaders are no better: Lapid takes credit for water rates going down and Livni says she is tough on Hamas.

Israelis working as emissaries for B’nei Akiva outside the country should be allowed to vote in next month’s elections, World B’nei Akiva director Rabbi Noam Perl wrote Elections Committee chairman Judge Salim Jubran Wednesday. “The fact that the emissaries overseas work for Zionism and for the State of Israel cannot participate in the elections  is […]

Please pray for a full and speedy recovery to the People of Israel ben Sarah.

The Supreme Court will rule next week on appeals by Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi and Baruch Marzel to overturn the Elections Committee decision to bar them from running in the elections. One of the justices at the hearing Tuesday morning stated that the court generally does not get involved in politics, but there is a […]

The “Yesha” crowd once again embarrasses settlers in an attempt to help them.

The parties keep trading seats back and forth, but the right-left blocks remain the same.

More Articles from Ben Sales and Uriel Heilman

TEL AVIV – Political pundits have long debated who is the real Benjamin Netanyahu. Is he a pragmatist handcuffed by his right-wing support base and fealty to his late father’s nationalist vision? Is he a true right-wing ideologue whose apparent concessions to Israeli-Palestinian peace are but feints?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/politics/likud-yisrael-beiteinu-election-merger-creates-political-juggernaut/2012/11/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: