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March 29, 2015 / 9 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Avigdor Lieberman’

Understand Israeli Elections – Here’s a Primer, Part 1

Friday, March 13th, 2015

The Israeli political system is radically different from the one in the United States. The most obvious differences are that Israel is a parliamentary system with more than 20 potential parties in the mix, unlike just the two standard American parties, the Democrats and the Republicans.

This year 26 parties are vying for positions in the upcoming vote, 11 of which are likely to pass the threshold requirement for becoming part of the next Knesset.

The first step of this year’s Israeli election to determine who makes it into the Knesset at all, then which parties will form the governing coalition, and finally, who will be the prime minister of the state of Israel, takes place next Tuesday, March 17.

The date was set by a formal meeting in early December, of all the then-current Knesset party leaders. Those leaders chose the date for the election to take place in just four months. While four months is a dramatically short campaign period by American standards, Israeli law permits only five months to elapse between the dissolution of one Knesset and the election for the next.

Election day is a big deal in Israel. Virtually everything, except the polling places, is closed. Free transportation is provided for any voter who needs it to reach their regular polling place.

On March 17,  all eligible voters – every Israeli citizen over 18 years of age – can vote. That includes Arabs, Muslims, Christians and Jews, men and women, able-bodied and those with disabilities. There is no voter registration system; every citizen is automatically registered once they turn 18. Nearly six million Israelis are eligible to vote in this year’s election.

MARCH 17: THE BALLOT BOX

Eligible Israeli voters go to polling places in their neighborhoods. There are more than 10,000 polling places throughout this tiny country. Most open at 7:00 a.m. and remain open until 10:00 p.m.

Turnout for Israeli elections has been declining for years, but it’s still well over 60 percent. In the U.S., turnout has been in the low-to mid 50 percent zone since the early 1970’s.

Before entering the voting booth, each voter is handed an envelope. Inside the booth is a tray, with different strips of paper. Each strip of paper includes the name and symbol of a party. The voter chooses the slip of paper which has the name and symbol of the party for whom they wish to vote, and puts that piece of paper in the envelope they were handed. After leaving the booth the voter places the envelope with their chosen party slip into the ballot box.

Israeli voters choose parties, not individual candidates, which, among other things, means their national representation is ideological, not geographic, and the vote is proportional, meaning the 120 Knesset seats are divvied up in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total vote. There is a minimum threshold for a party to meet before it can sit in the Knesset. That minimum is currently set at 3.25 percent of the total votes cast, which translates into four seats.

PHASE TWO: HORSE TRADING

Once the polling places close and the ballots are counted, the second phase of the Israeli election begins, the one frequently described as “horse trading.” In order to have the right to form a government and choose the prime minister, a group of parties needs to be able to control a majority of the Israeli Knesset, the single chamber Israeli legislature. The Knesset has 120 seats.

With so many parties competing, no single one has ever attained that magic number of 61 seats, and it is even likely that three or more parties need to agree to work together to form the ruling coalition. Therefore, parties which have been thrashing each other in public now start eying each other as potential dance partners, trying to figure out with whom they can create a functioning coalition to run the government.

This coalition building phase is a little bit like when, after a brutal primary in the U.S., the second place vote getter and the winner frequently kiss, make up, and agree to live with each other as their party’s candidate for president and vice president during the general election. But several different parties and lots of individual members of those parties are all added into the Israeli decision making mix. It isn’t easy.

But first let’s back up. How were the individuals on each party’s list chosen?

     PARTY LISTS

As soon as the Knesset is dissolved, either because it reached its four year expiration date, or because it is dispersed for some other reason (such as happened in the current case, when Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the Knesset to disperse and the Knesset unanimously agreed, on Dec. 8), the parties begin internal negotiations to determine who will be on their official “list,” and in what order. The higher up on the list one is, the greater the likelihood of actually making it into the Knesset.

There are various systems for determining who are included, and where they are placed, on each party’s list, including voting by the party leadership. Additional factors are taken into consideration, such as whether enough women are included, whether there are security experts represented, whether certain ethnic minorities will be included.

     PRIME MINISTER SELECTION

How does one of the party members then become the prime minister? Israel’s president, currently former Knesset member Ruby Rivlin, selects the member of Knesset believed to have the best chance of forming a viable coalition government, given the election results. This can take some time until the parties are able to align so that they can govern together.

Some of the horse trading here involves party leaders with high numbers demanding significant ministry positions in exchange for pledging their party’s support. Compare this to the ability of the U.S. president, once elected, then deciding who will become the various cabinet members.

This phase is incredibly complicated. For example, right now at least five different parties will be needed to join together to create a ruling coalition. And it is not as if just the top five vote-getting parties will join together, because of differences in ideology.

For example, the tiny far left Meretz party, which currently is polling at five seats, thought it would be able to create a power bloc by pairing up with the Joint Arab List. The Arab group dashed those hopes, claiming they would not join with “Zionists.”

Another complicating factor is that certain parties have claimed they will not join in a coalition with Netanyahu, and the Likud has ruled out creating a coalition with other parties, including the current frontrunner, the so-called “Zionist Union.” That party is a joining together of the center-left Labor party and Tzipi Livni and her entourage. Livni has changed parties so many times in the past few years most people just refer to this new party as Labor-Livni.

Once finally selected, the prime minister announces the formation of a new Knesset and the offices each minister will hold.

January 29 was the deadline for all parties to submit their lists of candidates. As of that date, the following parties had the following members in the following order (the parties are listed in terms of their most recent polling status):

ZIONIST UNION (1) Isaac Herzog (2) Tzipi Livni (3) Shelly Yachimovich (4) Stav Shaffir (5) Itzik Shmuly (6) Omer Bar-Lev (7) Hilik Bar (8) Amir Peretz (9) Merav Michaeli (10) Eitan Cabel (11) Manuel Trajtenberg (12) Erel Margalit (13) Mickey Rosenthal (14) Revital Swid (15) Danny Atar (16) Yoel Hassan (17) Zuhair Bahloul (18) Eitan Broshi (19) Michal Biran (20) Nachman Shai (21) Ksenia Svetlova (22) Ayelet Nahmias Verbin (23) Yossi Yona (24)Eyal Ben-Reuven (25) Yael Cohen-Paran. The left-center Zionist Union was forged by combining Labor and Tzipi Livni and her followers, has very recently been polling at between 20 and 24 seats.

LIKUD: (1) Benjamin Netanyahu (2) Gilad Erdan (3) Yuli Edelstein (4) Yisrael Katz (5) Miri Regev (6)Silvan Shalom (7) Moshe Ya’alon (8) Ze-ev Elkin (9) Danny Danon (10) Yariv Levin (11) Benny Begin (12) Tzachi Hanegbi (13) Yuval Steinitz (14) Gila Gamliel (15) Ophir Akunis (16) David Bitan (17) Haim Katz (18) Jackie Levy (19) Yoav Kish (20) Tzipi Hotovely (21) Dudu Amsalem (22) Miki Zohar (23) Dr. Anat Berko (24) Ayoob Kara (25) Nava Boker. Likud has been polling at between 26 and 20 seats, most recently declining.

YESH ATID (1) Yair Lapid (2) Shai Piron (3) Yael German (4) Meir Cohen (5) Yaakov Peri (6) Ofer Shelah (7) Haim Yalin (8) Karine Elharrar (9) Yoel Razvozov (10) Alize Lavie (11) Mickey Levy (12) Elazar Stern (13) Pnina Tamano-Shata (14) Boaz Toporovsky (15) Ruth Calderon. Yesh Atid focuses on social and economic issues and was brand new for the last elections. Yesh Atid has been polling at around 10 – 13 seats.

JOINT ARAB LIST (1) Aiman Uda (Hadash) (2) Masud Ganaim (Islamic Movement (3) Ahmad Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) (4) Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash (6) Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (Islamic Movement) (7) Haneen Zoabi (Balad) (8) Dov Khenin (Hadash) (9) Taleb Abu Arar (Islamic Movement). The Joint Arab party has been polling between 11 and 13 seats.

BAYIT YEHUDI (1) Naftali Bennett (2) Uri Ariel (3) Ayelet Shaked (4) Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan(5) Nissan Slomiansky (6) Yinan Magal (7) Moti Yogev (8) Bezalel Smotrich (9) Shuli Mualem (10) Avi Wortzman (11) Nir Orbach (12) rabbi Avi Rontzki (13) Orit Struck (14) Anat Roth (15) Ronen Shoval. Bayit Yehudi, the religious Zionist party, has recently been polling between 10 and 14 seats.

KULANU (1) Moshe Kahlon (2) Yoav Galant (3) Eli Alalouf (4) Michael Oren (5) Rachel Azaria (6)Tali Ploskov (7) Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton (8) Eli Cohen (9) Roy Folkman (10)Merav Ben-Ari. Kulanu is a brand new party created by its number one on the list. Kahlon is understood to have destroyed the cell phone monopoly in Israel. Kahlon has not ruled out joining with Likud or Zionist Union. His determination to be the next finance minister is well-known. Kulanu has been polling around 8 – 10 seats.

SHAS (1) Aryeh Deri (2) Yitzhak Cohen (3) Meshulam Nahari (4) Yakov Margi (5) David Azoulay (6) Yoav Ben-Tzur (7) Yitzhak Vaknin (8) Avraham Michaeli. Shas (the Sephardi Haredi party which has experienced severe upheaval since its leader, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s death in Oct. 2013) has been polling pretty consistently at 7 seats.

UNITED TORAH JUDAISM (1) Yaakov Litzman (2) Moshe Gafni (3) Meir Porush (4) Uri Maklev (5)Menachem Eliezer Moses (6) Israel Eichler (7) Yaakov Asher (8) Eliezer Sorotzkin. UTJ, the Ashkenazi charedi party, has recently been polling between 6 and 7 seats.

YISRAEL BEITEINU (1) Avigdor Lieberman (2) Orly Levy-Abekasis (3) Sofa Landver (4) Ilan Shohat (5) Sharon Gal (6) Hamad Amar (7) Robert Ilatov. Yisrael Beiteinu is identified with the Russian immigrants and is considered right wing, although it does not believe in annexing Judea and Samaria. It has been polling at 5 seats for quite some time.

MERETZ (1) Zehava Gal-on (2) Ilan Gilon (3) Issawi Frej (4) Michal Rozin (5) Tamar Zandberg (6) Mossi Raz (7) Gaby Lasky. Meretz, which is left on social and Arab-Israeli issues, has been polling pretty consistently at around 5 seats.

YACHAD (1) Eli Yishai (2) Yoni Chetboun (3) Michael Ayash (4) Baruch Marzel (5) Sasson Trebelsi. Yachad, only recently created as a split off from Shas, has been polling between 4 – 6 seats.

Other parties which are not expected to reach the threshold number of votes include the Green Party, the Green Leaf (legalize marijuana) Party, Rent with Honor Party, the Economics Party, a Charedi Women’s Party (called Ubezchutan) and even something called the Pirate Party. Gotta love Israelis.

JewishPress.com will post another primer once the elections reach the second phase: assembling the ruling coalition.

Palestinian Authority Wants Lieberman Arrested for Incitement

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

The Palestinian Authority has demanded that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman be arrested for stating this week that Israeli Arabs should be beheaded if they do not pledge loyalty to Israel

“Whoever is with us should get up to half the kingdom. Whoever is not with us we should take an axe and lower his head,” the Yisrael Beiteinu leader said at a campaign stop.

All polls show that Yisrael Beiteinu will be lucky if it gets enough votes to return to the Knesset, and Lieberman has been all over the political map to try to find supporters.

His “beheading” comment might bring chuckles to some of his die-hard backers but is not likely to attract a single additional vote.

But if Lieberman wanted publicity, he got it, and NBC reported, “A spokesman for Lieberman’s party said the comments were ‘made in the context of presenting the party’s platform on the issue of instituting the death penalty for mass murderers and terrorists.'”

The Palestinian Authority Minister of Foreign Affairs was not interested in excuses, especially those referring to Zionists.

The PA’s official WAFA news agency said that the Ramallah regime stated, “The Israeli Foreign Minister ‘Avigdor Lieberman of ISIS’ should be arrested and brought to justice, after he incited for the beheading of Arab citizens who are not loyal to Israel….

“Lieberman once again advocated his plan to spin off Arab areas of Israel and integrate them into a Palestinian state, in exchange for areas in the West Bank that would be annexed to Israel.

“’There is no reason for Umm el-Fahm to be a part of Israel,’ Lieberman said, referring to the third largest Arab city in Israel.

“‘Those who raise the black flag on Nakba Day in mourning over the establishment of Israel do not belong here, as far as I am concerned, and I am quite willing to donate them to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas. It would be my pleasure.'”

Election Committee Bars Arab MK Zoabi from Running for Knesset

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

The Central Elections Committee Thursday overwhelmingly against Arab Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi’s eligibility for running for election because of her association with terror.

The Joint Arab List, which includes Zoabi’s Balad party, will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, where Zoabi stands a good chance of a ruling in her favor.

The 27-6 vote in the committee rejected arguments by the attorney-general that banning Zoabi would be an open invitation to the Supreme Court to get involved in the political process.

Weinstein also advised against disqualifying right-wing activist Baruch Marzel, whose candidacy with the Yachad party also has been appealed to the committee, which has not yet decided on his eligibility.

The opposition to Zoabi’s candidacy by the Herzog-Livni-led “Zionist Camp” party cemented her disqualification, which also was backed by delegates from the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas and Yachad parties.

Meretz and the Joint Arab List voted in favor of Zoabi.

The vote paved the way for similar action against Marzel, who later on the day also was disqualified.

Both Zoabi and Marzel, who is not a MK, have shown a proficiency for grabbing headlines. Zoabi is known for her nasty language against the IDF and right-wing Jews, and she also was onboard the Mavi Marmara boat in the flotilla led by IHH terrorists nearly six years ago to break the Israeli maritime embargo on Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Marzel has been involved in stunts such as marching with an Israeli flag in the city of Umm el-Fahm, which also serves as the headquarters for the northern branch of the radical Islamic Movement.

Marzel and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, along with the new Yachad party, petitioned the Election Committee to bar Zoabi from running.

The committee hearing was nothing less than a shouting match between Zoabi and hecklers, including Marzel, who jeered when she said Marzel and Lieberman “turned my nation into terrorists,” referring to her nation as “Palestinian.”

Yachad party chairman Eli Yishai shouted at Zoabi that she is a terrorist.

 

Liberman Returns to His Roots

Monday, February 9th, 2015

After zigging and zagging a bit, trying to find that elusive, imaginary center, Avigdor Liberman and his Yisrael Beiteynu party have returned to its roots and the campaign platform they has always run on – border modifications for peace – and that’s the message on his campaign posters.

Liberman’s plan is not to move people, but to move borders and citizenship.

He wants the Israeli-Arab residents who identify themselves as “Palestinians” and the land they live on to officially become part of “Palestine”, and no longer Israel. While settlements will be officially annexed into Israel.

No one physically moves, no one is physically transferred, but their official identities match their stated ideological ones.

But for some strange reason, most Israeli-Arabs, for instance of Um el-Fahm, who identify themselves as “Palestinians” don’t want to give their Israeli citizenship and have their homes annexed into “Palestine”.

Weird.

New Poll Bad News for the Left and Bayit Yehudi

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

A new poll published by the Israeli Walla! website Thursday shows that the left and center-left parties are losing support, as is the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.

If elections were held today, the Likud would win 26 seats in the Knesset, compared with 23 for the Herzog-Livni “Zionist Camp” duo, according to the poll.

The most significant changes from previous polls are weakening support for Meretz and Bayit Yehudi. The left-wing Meretz party will barely win representation, apparently losing voters to Herzog-Livni, a merger of Livni’s HaTnuah party and Labor (The Zionist Union), the poll reveals. Theirs candidates are more much more leftist than before, attracting Meretz supporters but apparently putting off supports who may have flocked to Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and the new Kulanu party founded by Moshe Kahlon.

Bayit Yehudi, headed by Naftali Bennett, is losing ground. For the first time since the beginning of the campaign, the party has dropped to 12 Knesset seats, the same as in the outgoing Knesset but two to four less than in nearly all previous polls. This puts them as the same size as the Arab party, who could end up being the 3rd largest party in the Knesset.

That drop accounts for the increase in support for Likud.

The shifts in supports for Meretz and Bayit Yehudi do not change the left-right balance, but they leave the Likud in a better position.

The Walla! poll gives Yesh Atid 10 seats, one more than in most other previous polls. All other parties are more or less in the same position, except for Yisrael Beiteinu, which was granted seven seats, according to the poll. Previous surveys projected the party headed by Avigdor Lieberman would barely win enough support to enter the Knesset.

The new Yachad party headed by Eli Yishai continues to be on the edge of winning enough votes to enter the Knesset.

 

Lieberman Crushes Labor Coalition Illusion

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman has announced he will sit only with a center-right coalition, virtually blowing apart the illusion promoted by the Labor-Livni party and establishment  media that it can for a coalition government

Lieberman, who has become Israel’s most widely-known if not bizarre chameleon, previously has not ruled out sitting with a coalition headed by new Labor party, which merged with the party headed by Tzipi Livni and renamed itself the “Zionist Camp.”

All pre-election polls since the start of the campaign have shown that the party, co-headed by Yitzchak Herzog and Livni, has no chance of forming a coalition without the support of Yisrael Beiteinu, based on the false assumption that Lieberman would sit with the Haredi parties.

The concept is totally ridiculous, but even that hallucination came undone with Lieberman’s announcement Sunday that “Yisrael Beiteinu never will be part of a leftist government.”

Two weeks ago, he rejected sitting with a coalition that included the left-wing Meretz party, but he finally has realized that he is not the only one who understands that many of the Herzog-Livni candidates would be very comfortable in the Mertz party.

If  the Labor-Livni slate of candidates had been a bit more normal and without the inclusion of potential Knesset Members who unabashedly favor a Palestinian Authority country based on all of its demands, perhaps Lieberman would have held his breath.

One of Labor’s top candidates for the Knesset is Stav Shaffir, who wants to get rid of HaTikvah as Israel’s national anthem because it is too Jewish for Arabs to love.

Another star in the Herzog-Livni camp is Merav Michaeli who has stated that no one should serve in the IDF because of the “occupation.”

Labor Party candidate Zuhair Bahloul maintains that his “Palestinian identity is stronger than [his] Israeli one.”

Lieberman’s party is down to four or five seats in polls, still enough for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to want to make part of the next government if the Likud takes charge after the elections in March.

New Poll Shows All Parties Going Full Blast in Neutral

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

The oddest result of a month of polls is that there has been almost absolutely no change in the numbers.

The weekly Rafi Smith poll published Thursday night reveals that all parties are more or less stagnant and that national religious voters favoring the new Yachad party headed by Eli Yishai may be wasting their votes.

The new party has been on the edge of winning the minimum number of votes to enter the Knesset, but the Smith poll leaves Yachad under the radar. If polls in the next two weeks do not clearly show that the party has enough backing to win Knesset representation, voters are likely to abandon the sinking ship in favor of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party.

Labor-Livni, running under the banner of the “Zionist Camp” party, would win 25 seats in the Knesset if elections were held today, according  to the Smith survey. The number is unchanged from last week’s survey.

Similarly, the Likud party, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, would win 24 seats, followed by Bayit Yehudi with 16, one more than last week.

Next in line are Yesh Atid, whose chairman is Yair Lapid, with nine seats, and Shas, headed by Aryeh Deri with eight Knesset Members. Both parties’ support is unchanged from last week.

Kulanu (All of Us) headed by Moshe Kahlon won enough backing for eight seats, one less than last week.

Yehadut HaTorah (United Torah Judaism), the Ashkenazi Haredi party, gained one seat and now has eight projected MKs. Both Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu lost one seat and are down to five,

The joint Arab list of parties won 12 seats, one more than in the previous poll.

The changes of one seat up or down are relatively insignificant given the margin of error in surveys.

Pollsters insist there is a large bloc of undecided voters, but if that is the case, they appear to be decidedly undecided.

No matter how you spin the  numbers, the results still show that Labor-Livni, or the Zionist Camp if you prefer the official name, have no chance of forming a government.

One Jewish Press report last week suggested that the Arab parties are “natural partners” for a left-wing coalition and that even if they don’t join the coalition, they would give their support for it in critical votes. Arab parties never have agreed to be part of an Israeli government, and given the fact that several of the Arab MKs are blatantly pro-Palestinian Authority and openly against a Jewish State of Israel, they are not about to change the tradition.

However, it also is unlikely that Kulanu and Yesh Atid would accept demands of the Arab parties if push came to shove and Herzog and Livni were to propose a coalition needing support of Arab MKs.

No party has any momentum. The only likely changes in the strength of the left-wing or right-wing camp will come from lukewarm supporters of Kulanu and Yesh Lapid.

That leaves the undecided voters to make up their minds, and they have a little more than six weeks to do so.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/new-poll-shows-all-parties-going-full-blast-in-neutral/2015/01/29/

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