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May 25, 2015 / 7 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Coalition’

Jordanian King Warns Global Battle With ISIS Has Launched World War III

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Jordan’s King Abdullah II is warning that the international battle against Daesh – the terror organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS or ISIL – has launched World War III, although the rest of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the radical Islamic terror group may not yet realize it.

In fact, the Hashemite monarch told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Global Public Square earlier this week, “This has to be unified.

“I’ve said this to leaders both in the Islamic and Arab world, and to the world in general: This is a third World War by other means.

“This brings Muslims, Christians, other religions together in this generational fight that all of us have to be in this together.

“So it’s not a Western fight,” the king continued. “This is a fight inside of Islam where everybody comes together against these outlaws, so to speak, together.

“We have a moral responsibility to reach out to those Muslims, to protect them, and to stop them before they reach our border.

“There’s a short-term part of this which is the military part of the issue.

“There is the medium part, which is the security element of it.

“And then there’s a long-term element of this, which is obviously the ideological one,” Abdullah said.

The terror group twists Islam, he noted, using “intimidation” as its weapon to “put fear in people’s hearts.”

But not in Jordanian hearts.

King Abdullah II, a trained helicopter pilot dubbed “the warrior king” after 35 years of military service uploaded to Instagram a photo of himself dressed in military fatigues and black gloves to rally his nation after a Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS was burned to death by the terror organization.

He cut short his visit to the United States to fly home at that news, and increased his forces in the U.S.-led coalition in the bombing raids against Daesh. There were, in fact, rumors that the king himself took part in some air strikes against the terror group as well.

“Death to Daesh” was the cry roared by the thousands who swamped the streets of Amman in the wake of the pilot’s execution.

Jordan vowed to “wipe out Daesh completely.”

Obama ‘Refuses Notion Groups Like ISIS Represent Islam’

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama adamantly held firm to his policy of avoiding the term “radical Islamic terrorism” Thursday on the final day of the White House conference on violent extremism.

told participants at the final day of the White House “Conference on Violent Extremism” that 60 nations, including Arab nations, have so far united in the coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terrorist organization, which Obama referred to as “ISIL” and which is also referred to as ISIS. In the Middle East and by some European nations the group is called “Daesh.”

“We all have a responsibility to ensure the security and human rights of our citizens,” Obama said. “A civil society is vital to the success of any country.”

Still unable to use the term “radical Islamic terror,” however, Obama said, “We are here today because we are united against violent extremism and terrorism… a coalition of 60 nations, including Arab nations, has united to degrade and ultimoately destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria.”

Obama spent about 15 minutes listing all the different terror groups around the world dedicating to creating havoc, murder and mayhem in various countries. But few if any were without ties to radical Islam, although Obama was unable to force himself to make the point.

He did, however, finally correct an earlier omission and specify that it was 21 Egyptian Christian Copts who were targeted by Daesh for execution at the edge of the Mediterranean waters in Libya last weekend. He was also careful to note that Israelis have endured the scourge of terrorism for decades, adding a special mention of the terrorist sieges in Paris and Copenhagen in an almost surprising reference to anti-Semitism in Europe.

Nevertheless, he said, “I refuse the notion that groups like ISIL represent Islam… There is a complicated history between the Middle East and the West,” Obama said, “and none of us should be immune from specific criticism on policy… But the idea that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie. We should reject it.”

However, he added, “When necessary, the United States will continue to take action against Al Qaeda affiliates …. in Iraq and Syria. Our coalition will not relent in the mission to destroy ISIL.”

Governments around the world, he added, have the responsibility to “cut off funding to terrorist groups.” Carefully avoiding any reference to Iran, however, Obama instead said the United States will “work with the United Arab Emirates to create a new digital communications hub to counter terrorist propaganda.”

Yesh Atid Prefers Herzog/Livni Over Netanyahu

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Shai Piron, the number 2 man in the Yesh Atid party said the party’s preference is to replace Netanyahu, and as such, given the choice would join a Herzog/Livni led coalition.

Piron said it is time for new leadership in Israel.

Gafni Says UTJ Will Only Go with Right

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Moshe Gafni, the co-chairman of the Chareidi UTJ party said, “Rav Shach would never let us go with the Left, Degel HaTorah [Gafni’s faction in UTJ] has never gone with a leftwing government.”

The statements were made at a Degel HaTorah party meeting to party leaders and activists, according to a Bechadarei Chareidim video and report.

Actually, in July 1999, UTJ (and Moshe Gafni) sat in Ehud Barak’s leftwing government, side by side with Meretz (along with Shas, Liberman’s Yisrael B’Aliyah and the Mafdal).

To their credit, UTJ left the coalition in September of 1999, due to an open breach of Shabbat by the government when it ordered the transport of a large turbine generator for the electric company on Shabbat.

Gafni said that Degel HaTorah would have no problem going with the Left, in fact the Left would make sure the Chareidim receive even more money from the government.

But, Gafni said, Rav Shach [Degel HaTorah’s late spiritual founder] said the party needed to worry about the children of the non-religious who are learning in the public schools, over a million of them, who don’t know what is “Shema Yisrael,” implying that a Rightwing government helps in that area.

After the UTJ party became excluded from the current coalition, Gafni became an extremely vocal and enraged voice against the “Dati-Leumi” sector, even going as far as threatening to destroy Hesder Yeshivas and dry out the settlements in revenge when he gets back in power particularly in response to the Shaked Enlistment Law.

It appears Gafni’s pronouncement regarding the Left was made in reaction to Aryeh Deri’s recent statement that the Shas party would not join a leftwing government, which then put pressure on UTJ to also declare their allegiances for their rightfully concerned voters.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman Finally Declares His Allegiances [video]

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Wow. It took a long time, but Yisrael Beiteynu chief, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman finally declared his political allegiances without the semantic games and ambiguity.

In a YNET TV interview, Liberman clearly stated he will only join a right-wing led coalition.

Liberman said it could be a right-wing coalition, or a right-wing led national unity coalition, but he won’t join a left-wing coalition.

On the other hand, Liberman specifically clarified that these two options are the only realistic coalition configurations that seem possible.

From that statement, one might choose to interpret his allegiances to a right-wing led coalition as a practical response to what’s actually available as opposed to ideological considerations. He believes that The Zionist Camp (Labor) will join a right-wing led national coalition government.

Liberman is down to the low single digits in the polls, but he believes that on election day the voters will bring him back to double digits.

Latest Election Polls

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Israel Channel 1 has released its weekend poll.

Likud pulls ahead in this poll. Eli Yishai continues to not pass the electoral threshold. Unbelievably, Shas is actually making a comeback.

Regardless of the minor variations, the fundamentals remain the same, and forming a coalition still remains dependent on the small parties who have refused to declare allegiance to either side.

Likud (Netanyahu): 26

Labor (Herzog / Livni): 24

Bayit Yehudi (Bennett): 15

The Joint (Arab) List: 11

Shas (Deri): 9

Yesh Atid (Lapid): 8

UTJ (Gafni / Litzman): 8

Yisrael Beyteynu (Liberman): 7

Kulanu (Kachlon): 7

Meretz (Gal-On): 5

Understanding and Fixing the Real Problem with the Israeli Political System

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Politicians love to blame the plethora of small parties for the electoral mess we’re in, and their solution for the past few decades has always been to raise the electoral threshold required for a party to get into the Knesset.

But what if they’re wrong? (And they are.)

 

The Misconception Two legislative revolutions happened that radically changed the Knesset’s makeup and voter habits, which brought us this mess we’re currently in.

But first, let’s clear up a common misconception — that there are suddenly too many parties in the Knesset.

Historically, the number of parties in the Knesset has ranged from 10 to 15 parties. The average since 1949 has been 12.5, and the last 3 governments have only had 12 parties in the Knesset. That’s less than the historical average.

So blaming the problem on the number of parties is incorrect.

But there is something significantly different about all the parties currently in the Knesset, it’s just not about how many parties there are.

 

The History Before 1992, the Knesset consisted of a big party, generally a second medium party or two, and a lot of small one to four man parties.

In fact, between 30% to 50% of voters voted for small parties – presumably because Israelis want a closer and more responsive relationship with their elected officials.

So what changed?

Before the 1992 elections, Israel had a low electoral threshold (1%). One man parties were common.

That threshold was raised to 1.5%, then to 2% in 2003, and now to 3.25% in 2014.

The big parties keep trying to kill the small parties, thinking it will help both the big parties and the coalition’s stability.

 

The Unintended Consequence

Voters got cheated in the 1992 election, after the small one-man parties failed to pass the threshold. This resulted in the Right losing control of the coalition and Rabin getting in, even though more citizens voted Right than Left.

But there was a more significant unintended side effect.

It was also the first time since 1977 that the Knesset had more than two parties with more than 10 seats.

Before 1977, it was common, but back then, the leading party always had a very significant lead over the next largest parties.

Since 1992, with more than one medium-sized party, as well as larger “small” parties with 6 to 8 seats, we begin to see that these medium-sized parties having more influence and power than their size should allow.

Individual parties begin to become key to coalition building, and political extortion became the name of the game.

In 1996, there was second change — in the right direction, but not radical enough.

Instead of both direct elections for Knesset members and the Prime Minister, Israel only voted directly for the Prime Minister.

 

The Second Unintended Consequence

Direct Elections allowed voters the freedom to choose the party they wanted, separate from the Prime Minister – which they eagerly did — but for the first time ever in history, no party had more than 40 seats.

And ever since 1996, no ruling party has even came close to approaching the 40 seat minimum, except Sharon in 2003, who had 38.

This one-time experiment was enough to influence voting behavior ever since.

 

Voters Fight Back

Legislators had hoped to game the system against the will of the voters, but the voters realized that with proper voting strategies, they could game the system in return and perhaps get the government they wanted.

Voters learned that even without direct elections, they could get the Prime Minister and policies they desired by voting for the medium sized coalition partners they wanted – a wise choice for voters looking for more influence in the political process.

Thus leaving us with lots of small-medium to medium sized parties, and without any large ones.

 

The Lesson

The lesson is incontrovertible, the higher the electoral threshold, which removes alternatives to choose from, the “smaller” parties become more and more indispensable to any coalition, and the more desirable it becomes to vote for a medium sized party — and not for a large one.

 

Understanding the Voter

What can be done to fix the situation, to create a more stable government?

First of all, it needs to be recognized that Israelis want to vote directly for their politicians, and not for parties. This is why small one to four man parties were so popular until the big politicians banned them.

Lots of small parties may be unruly, but they don’t result in the exaggerated influence of the midsized parties to disrupt or control the government.

But, even if the threshold laws were canceled, which they should be, I don’t see voting patterns rushing back to their pre-1992 formats, though to a limited extent it will, just not enough to be useful.

After all, voters now understand the power of medium-sized parties.

Increasing the threshold won’t work either, as we’ve seen, each increase just gives more power to the third-tier parties.

And finally, forcing a two party system down the voter’s throats with (for argument’s sake) 45% thresholds, would just leave the voters feeling very cheated.

 

An Initial Proposal

One solution is to disconnect the executive and legislative branches.

Separate votes, separate powers, real check and balances – basically the American system.

That, tied with direct elections for Knesset members would be the optimal solution.

Only, I don’t see anyone implementing it in the foreseeable future.

 

A Solution Within the Existing Framework

So what can be done now with what we have? (Not that this is the best solution).

If Israel wants to stay with the parliamentary system, the solution is not as as complex as you might think. It requires two steps.

First of all, remove the minimum electoral threshold. Let people vote for whom they want.

The second is, let the head of the largest elected party become the Prime Minister, automatically, with no requirement at all to assemble a coalition to form the government.

 

The Intended Consequences

What do I foresee happening?

Only the die-hards will vote for the small parties. Most everyone else will want to make sure the Prime Minister comes from the biggest party that represents them the closest.

We would see a lot of parties consolidating automatically.

There will be a natural push to make sure the Likud or Labor becomes the biggest party.

If the Prime Minister wants to appoint ministers from other parties, he (or she) is welcome to (for instance, if he thinks it will help pass votes in the Knesset), but it won’t be needed.

It could even result in Israel getting professional and not political ministers.

 

Would It Work?

Would this system be governable?

I believe so.

It would probably require better delineation and definition of powers, and it admittedly could result in a Likud Prime Minister facing off against a large Labor + Arab ad hoc coalition in the Knesset, but if each branch had checks and balances against the other, it would either force them to work together, or create an absolute stalemate.

Resolving the stalemate issue could be done through direct elections of at least some of the Knesset members.

Creating direct electoral accountability means that at least some of the MKs would vote across party lines.

 

Concerns

There is a valid concern that one party could win 61 seats. And even though that could happen now, it would be more likely under this system.

A possible solution for that is requiring mid-term elections for half the Knesset in such a case – without affecting the sitting Prime Minister’s government.

Another issue it that Israel is a mosaic of very different sectors.

Having such wide and disparate representation in the Knesset is a good thing. This idea might hurt that, as it’s not clear how well the two big parties would represent the smaller sectors – though I suspect they would court them very nicely.

And of course, its unlikely the MKs would vote for a system that would minimize the size of their own parties. But with all the party talking consolidation right now, it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

 

Bottom Line

This isn’t the only solution and not the best solution, but it does accurately explain the problem we’re in and how we got there.

I’m throwing this idea out there to hear what you think.

So — what do you think?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/understanding-and-fixing-the-real-problem-with-the-israeli-political-system/2014/12/10/

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