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April 21, 2015 / 2 Iyar, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Bayit Yehudi’

Liberman and Bennett Teaming Up Against Netanyahu

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) said that Bayit Yehudi will not let Shas get the Religious Affairs Ministry, even if it means blowing up the negotiations, according to Nana10.

Shaked said the Bayit Yehudi party would not abandon all the achievements it made on religion and state issues.

Channel 2 reports that Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) have reached an agreement so that Bayit Yehudi would stop demanding the Foreign Ministry from PM Netanyahu, which is the ministry that Liberman wants; in exchange Liberman would help Bennett get the Religious Affairs Ministry, which the Hareidi Shas party is demanding, and at this point is expected to get.

Bennett also wants either the Defense or Foreign Ministry, but would be willing to settle for less if properly compensated with additional, smaller ministries as well as an alternative senior position. Netanyahu supposedly promised Bennett the Defense Minsitry before the elections, when it was thought Bayit Yehudi would have at least 12 seats.

Liberman and Bennett would both work together to prevent Netanyahu from bringing the Zionist Union into the coalition.

Yitzchak Herzog (Zionist Union) again said that he would not be joining the coalition with Netanyahu, and will be in the opposition working to replace Netanyahu.

It appears that Netanyahu wanted to save negotiating with Liberman for last, after he had 61 seats on board from the other coalition partners. This would have given Liberman very little negotiating power.

But Netanyahu isn’t making his most natural partner, Bayit Yehudi, very happy at the moment, and the plan may have backfired.

One of the latest rumors says that Bayit Yehudi will receive four ministries, of which Naftali Bennett would receive both the Ministry of the Economy and the Intelligence Ministry.

The other two ministies they would get are Agriculture for Uri Ariel and Senior Citizens for Ayelet Shaked.

Yisrael Hayom, which is close to Netanyahu, says that the Likud will keep 12 ministries, including: Defense, Justice, Interior Security, Communications, Transportation, Social and Education.

Marzel and Bennett Suffering from Post-Election Trauma

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

Yachad party election loser Baruch Marzel and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett still are licking their wounds more than two weeks after the elections in which Yachad was blanked out of the Knesset and Bayit Yehudi lost four seats.

Yachad’s failure to win the minimum number of votes to enter the Knesset meant that three seats were lost to the national religious bloc. It is assumed that at least two of them would have gone to the Jewish Home party and a third possibly to Shas

Marzel is not chairman of Yachad, but he wins hand down for getting the most headlines, given his ability to provoke fierce reactions to his activism and blunt speech.

He has no regrets that Yachad ran in the elections, despite warnings that it would fail at the polls and weaken the Bayit Yehudi and Shas parties.

He told Arutz Sheva, “We did the right thing, we brought in more power, and we tried hard to pass the threshold. But, on the other hand, there is no doubt that we failed.”

He then went on a rant against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for doing “terrible things, hurting the national religious public and communities, the destruction of outposts – it hurts.”

Yachad still is crying “foul” and claiming that it lost enough votes to enter the Knesset because of “thousands of fake votes.”

He figures that there will not be an investigation because elections judges “can’t afford to take a mandate from Yesh Atid and Labor and put Baruch Marzel in the Knesset.”

Bennett, chairman of Bayit Yehudi, was stoic when the election results were announced. He said that although the Bayit Yehudi’s eight seats in the Knesset are four less than in the previous session, he is certain Netanyahu knows that those seats went to the Prime Minister’s Likud party after a last-minute media blitz that continued even on the day of elections.

Netanyahu is too much of a veteran politician to express gratitude to another party, and Bennett is insulted.

A leaked audio that was broadcast on Army Radio Thursday revealed that Bennett ripped into Netanyahu during a meeting with Bayit Yehudi supporters, some of whom heckled Bennett.

Bennett wants to be Defense Minister of Foreign Minister, but Netanyahu is giving him the cold shoulder.

Bennett accused the Prime Minister of treating the Bayit Yehudi as a party of “suckers” by offering the party to choose between the Education Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry, although Netanyahu already may have reserved that for Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman.

Netanyahu was not impressed by Bennett’s anger, and stated, “Bennett is in dire straits because he has not found a partner to gang up on Likud.” referring to Bennett’s luvvy-duvvy relationship with Yesh Lapid in the previous  government.

Bennett’s biggest fear is that Netanyahu will reward the Shas Sephardi Haredi party with the Religious Ministry of Education ministry, at the cost of the national religious sector.

Meanwhile Moshe Kachlon, chairman of the new Kulanu party, continues to act as if he has post-election delusions. He won 10 seats in the Knesset and already has insisted that being Finance Minister is not enough. Kachlon wants to veto Netanyahu’s desire to choose a Haredi Knesset Member to head the Knesset Finance Committee and also wants one of his party’s MKs to head the Environment or Housing ministry.

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.

Bibi: ‘ISIS Would Devour Palestinian State, We Cannot Help Create That’

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Whether or not he was publicly forced into stating it, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has now said what most focused Israelis and Israel-watchers have realized for quite some time: the creation of any Palestinian State now, as weak as it is and has been since its leadership began attempting to resemble a functioning state, would be immediately subsumed (or, if you will, “gobbled up”) by ISIS or any of the other Islamic extremist groups in the region.

For that reason alone, if not for the myriad others – such as its own leadership’s inclination towards and support for its own version of terrorism – it is impossible for any responsible leader in the region to consider the creation of a Palestinian State any time soon.

In the words of the Israeli prime minister regarding the calamitous instability in the region and its impact on whether there should be a Palestinian state anytime soon: “Therefore, there will not be any withdrawals or concessions. The matter is simply irrelevant.”

Whether Netanyahu’s hand was forced because of the pressure placed on him by the Religious Zionist party Bayit Yehudi which consistently states it will not hand over any territory to the Arabs, or because a right-wing member of his own Likud party got the ball rolling, the end result is the same.

The cat is back in the bag, the Two State “Solution” is now clearly only a solution for ending Israel, and enslaving even the Palestinian Arabs themselves. For the safety of all those living in the land south of Lebanon, west of Syria and Jordan and north of Egypt, the only way to prevent ISIS and its fellow barbarous murderers is for Israel to remain in control of all the borders.

The Israeli prime minister began his most recent iteration in his leadership role with a earth-shattering speech at Bar Ilan University. Netanyahu invoked the “Two State” mantra as if it were within reach.

In that 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan, Netanyahu said he would recognize a Palestinian State “if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state.” He said, if that were to happen, “we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state.”

Even after the recent Gaza wars and bruising condemnations of Israeli self-defense by much of the international community, Netanyahu continued speaking, at least in public, of working with the Palestinian Arab leadership towards a result they claim (an idea that much of the international community was pushing very hard) they want: a Palestinian State.

Perhaps Netanyahu and his advisers believed that Israeli security is so strong it could even survive the birth of a tiny terror state of Palestine (Palistan?). But inviting ISIS into its own neural network? That would make the recent machete, hammer and automobile terrorism by local Palestinian Arab terrorists look like mere schoolyard spitting contests.

Netanyahu’s statement shutting the door on Palestinian statehood came on Sunday, March 8. It came in response to a question about a position taken by the Likud party’s answer to a small Israeli paper’s campaign question.

As Lahav Harkov reported in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday, “The article claimed that the Likud’s answer to a question as to its leader’s position on Palestinian statehood was: “The prime minister told the public that the Bar-Ilan speech [in which he advocated a demilitarized Palestinian state] is canceled.”

According to Harkov, a Likud spokesperson said party member MK Tzipi Hotovely provided the answer and it was her personal position. But regardless of whose language appeared in the campaign response, Netanyahu later made it clear he would not allow ISIS to fill the vacuum created by a weak Palestinian State.

Why I am Voting for Bayit Yehudi

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Naftali Bennett should not take my vote for granted. Until this week I’ve been wavering between voting Likud, Bayit Yehudi or Yachad (Otzma Yehudit).

I’m not happy with any of them, though some would say the definition of elections is voting for the candidate you least dislike.

Obviously, I wouldn’t vote Kulanu, whose members go from Left to very Left. Or Yisrael Beytenu, when Liberman can’t construct a simple statement of intent that doesn’t leave himself open to maneuvering and interpretation – that really turns me off.

There’s a certain logic to voting for the Likud. They’re the biggest party, they hold the reins, and they control the checkbook. Netanyahu is an amazing orator. And better a strong Likud in power than Labor.

There’s a lot of good people in the Likud. There’s Hotovely, Danon, Edelstein, Elkin, Kara… But there are some bad apples on that list too who I don’t want to see in the Knesset.

But as a party they lack a unified ideology other than security and pragmatism. They could easily swing left if they felt their security concerns were properly addressed, or had to be sacrificed for something they felt was equally important.

I also dislike what they did to Feiglin.

But most importantly, I’m concerned Netanyahu will try to form a unity government with the Left if he feels it’s in his best interest to do so.

I entertained the idea of voting for Yachad.

I like Eli Yishai. I think he has always been an excellent minister, and it will be good if he were a minister in the next government.

I’m not exactly blown away by anyone else on his list, though having Baruch Marzel there does at least give him strong right wing credentials. But I don’t actually know enough about Marzel’s positions on anything other than Hebron and the Settlements for me to be willing to give him my vote.

But Yachad has some serious downsides.

They may not pass the electoral threshold, and that’s not a risk I want to take with my vote.

And even if they do pass, there is a good chance that Netanyahu will simply leave them out of the coalition (or at least Marzel). In which case, we’ve already seen how powerless a rightwing party is when excluded from a supposedly rightwing coalition.

This leads me back to Naftali Bennett and Bayit Yehudi.

Bennett was great on security issues. Of that there’s no doubt. He was great representing us in the international media during the Gaza war. I believe he may one day be our Prime Minister, and he’ll probably be a good one.

He was also amazing on economic issues.

And while other parties were proposing solutions to the housing problem, Bayit Yehudi actually implemented solutions that worked.

But I’m was disappointed in his party’s performance last time around in another important area.

In the religious sphere, one of the most important things he could have done was get us a Religious-Zionist Chief Rabbi – and his party failed at that – spectacularly.

While they did manage to block Elazar Stern’s bad ideas on religion and state, Bayit Yehudi failed to implement some of the good ones too.

In fact, for a Religious-Zionist party, I feel they haven’t emphasized their religious side enough – and I believe that problem comes from the top.

Too many of the Bennett commercials are about attracting secular Jews – and I understand he wants to widen his voter base, but as a result, he’s ignoring his religious base, or taking it for granted. Choosing soccer player Eli Ohana was a symptom of that thinking.

I’m certainly not interested in Rabbis running the party (they should run for office if they want to be in politics), but I do want to know how Bayit Yehudi envisions the future of religion and state, and what their practical solutions are for dealing with the tough problems we face in those areas (agunot, the Chareidi monopolies, conversion, Kashrut, Shabbat, etc.) – and not just what solutions they plan to block.

I would have liked to have seen Eli Yishai as a member of Bayit Yehudi. True, he is Chareidi (or Sephardi Chareidi which is different), but I think he would have brought some much needed religious character back to the party.

But it comes down to this…

I don’t trust Likud to not freeze settlements or do something else leftwing. I don’t think Yachad will be influential enough to change anything if they do manage to get in, and that leaves Bayit Yehudi.

When Bayit Yehudi party members say that a large Bayit Yehudi party will have their hands on the steering wheel alongside Bibi making sure he doesn’t turn left, there is a straightforward undeniable logic to that.

So given the options at the voting booth, it seems the only option is Bayit Yehudi.

Naftali, please don’t make me regret my choice.

New Poll Gives Herzog-Livni 3-Seat Lead but no Coalition

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

The Likud party lost two Knesset seats and now would win only 21, compared with 24 for the Herzog-Livni “Zionist Camp,” according to a new poll published Wednesday and carried out by the highly reliable Panel Politics for the Knesset Channel.

Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, jumped up to 13 seats, along with the new United Arab List, and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) is in neutral with 12 projected Knesset Members.

It is not clear where Lapid’s two seats went unless there are supporters of Netanyahu who would drift to Lapid. The other parties are holding steady, with Kulanu, headed by Moshe Kahlon, at eight seats, Shas and Yehadut HaTorah at seven seats each, Meretz with six, Yisrael Beiteinu with five and Yachad squeaking by with the minimum four mandates.

Lapid has said he will not sit in a coalition with Shas. Yisrael Beiteinu will not sit in a leftist coalition. That leaves Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, who would be rotating prime ministers if they form the next government, with Meretz, Yesh Atid, and Kulanu as potential partners. Even if YeHadut HaTorah were to join and Lapid would not go ballistic, Herzog and Livni would have only 58 seats, three less than a majority.

The Arab List is not going to join, and if it did, Kulanu and YeHadut HaTorah would drop out. The best it can for Herzog and Livni is give it a security blanket on critical votes, but that would last for perhaps a day, maybe even two days.

Netanyahu can count on the Haredi parties, Yisrael Beiteinu, Kulanu, Bayit Yehudi and Yachad for a total of 64.

The big question mark is whether Yachad can win enough votes to enter the Knesset. If not, its ballots will go in the trash and larger parties would gain.

Another unknown factor is yesterday’s speech in Congress by Netanyahu, who is likely to gain one or two seats in the next poll.

Elections are on Wednesday in two weeks.

Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress – Blocked from U.S. Prime Time, Perfect for Israel

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

As Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu departed for Washington, D.C. today, March 1, he underscored the solemnity of his mission, and the fact that his efforts are made on behalf of all Israelis. Every one of them.

The prime minister said:

A few days before the Fast of Esther, I am leaving for Washington on a fateful, even historic, mission. I feel that I am the emissary of all Israelis, even those who disagree with me, of the entire Jewish People. I am deeply and genuinely concerned for the security of all Israelis, for the fate of the nation, and for the fate of our people and I will do my utmost to ensure our future.

Throughout this campaign season in Israel, every one of the major center- to right-wing parties stated that they are in agreement with Netanyahu regarding Iran.

As far left as Labor-Livni, including Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beitenu and Bayit Yehudi, all pledged that there is no space between them and Netanyahu’s position regarding the existential threat posed to Israel, and the entire western world, by an Islamic Republic of Iran with nuclear weapons capability.

TIMING OF THE SPEECH

One of the main criticisms aimed at Netanyahu for coming to speak to Congress in March is that it is a scant few weeks before the Israeli elections. Presumably, the thought was, the speech would unfairly boost his standing and translate into more votes for him.

How strange, then, that Netanyahu’s speech to Congress is slated for 10:45 a.m., east coast time. This means that very few working Americans will be able to watch the speech live; they will all be at work.

Having Netanyahu speak to Congress at 10:45 east coast time, however, means that he will be on the air in Israel during  prime viewing time, starting at about 5:50 p.m. (there will be a five minute delay in Israel).

In other words, to the extent the White House had any ability to influence the timing of the speech, it was deemed more important that Americans not be able to see and hear the Israeli prime minister, than that Israeli voters might be influenced by their prime minister’s congressional speech.

Had the speech been scheduled for 9:00 p.m. EST, as most important speeches are, only the most die-hard Bibi fans in Israel would be up at 4:00 a.m. to watch.

The fear is and was that Netanyahu will be able to infuse Congress and the American people with the necessary backbone to stand up to the global threat of a nuclear armed Iran.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahus-speech-to-congress-blocked-from-u-s-prime-time-perfect-for-israel/2015/03/01/

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