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December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘elections’

47.1% of Israeli-Arabs Prefer Ahmed Tibi

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

A poll of Israeli-Arabs showed that 47.1% of Israeli-Arabs want MK Ahmed Tibi as head of a united Arab list running for Knesset, according to a YNet report.

Dr. Ahmed Tibi is the head of the Ta’al party, and has served in the Knesset since 1999. He has also served as a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset.

From 1993 to 1999 Tibi served as the political advisor to Yasser Arafat.

He has a medical degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

38.8% of Arab respondents said they didn’t care who would be in charge.

62% answered that they planned to vote in the upcoming elections. 56% voted in 2013.

The poll was run by “Stat Net” and 850 Israeli Arabs were polled.

Shas Politicians Fight It Out to Destroy the Party

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Shas Haredi Sephardi party leader and ex-con Aryeh Deri has demanded that former party chairman Eli Yishai deposit a resignation letter just in case he decides to work against the party, the Haredi Kikar Shabbat website reported Thursday morning.

Yishai met with a rabbi from the “Council of Torah Sages” and was presented with Deri’s letter of conditions for unity between him and Deri.

Yishai saw the condition for the letter and refused, setting the groundwork for Deri and Yishai to call off their “unity peace talks” that were scheduled this morning.

“Why does Deri think that Yishai has to submit this kind of letter,” an aide to Yishai told Kikar Shabbat. “Yishai doesn’t believe Deri and is sure he will use the letter to chase him out of the party. Deri tells the media he will be number two [on the party election list], but the public knows that Deri is making conditions he cannot accept and wants to make Yishai leave the party in a move that will appear, in principle as if he does not want unity.”

A spokesman for Deri did not deny the report of conditions.

A poll published on Wednesday shows that Yishai as Shas party chairman would attract enough voters to elect nine Knesset Members, two more than with Deri as leader.

The Shas party lost its founder and spiritual leader, former Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, last year. Ever since, Deri and Yishai have been at each other’s throats, the way politicians act out of “good for the country.”

The Deri-Yishai feud could split up the party into two factions.

That could leave Netanyahu, or Herzog-Livni, playing Deri and Yishai off each other to bait them into a coalition.

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?

Kerry Summons Netanyahu to Rome for Urgent Meeting before PA Bid to UN

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has summoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to an urgent meeting next Monday ahead of a United Nations Security Council vote in two weeks on a Palestinian Authority timetable to demand Israel’s withdrawal to the old Temporary Armistice Lines by 2016.

Haaretz, which often is privy to reports from ”anonymous” senior officials when it comes to cooperation with the Obama, reported that the Kerry-Netanyahu talks will last for several hours.

The Office of the Prime Minister told The Jewish Press it could not confirm or deny the report.

President Barack Obama does not want to be put in a position to have to decide whether or not to veto an anti-Israel decision by the Security Council.PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has served notice that he no longer is interested in the American-backed “peace process” and that he will achieve his demands via the United Nations, where the General Assembly is overloaded with pro-Arab countries.

As an alternative proposal to the 2016 deadline, France has suggested a two-year deadline for permanent agreement based on the “Green Line” borders that were erased by the Sic-Day War in 1967.

The French proposal is based on Israel accepting the old borders with the exception of land swaps, and that Jerusalem be divided between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Haaretz reported that it is not clear if Kerry will propose his own proposal.

Obama and Kerry’s insistence on forcing an agreement down the throats of both sides, instead of living up to their former word that it cannot bargain for both parties, has left them high and dry.

Israel has refused to buckle under pressure for another building freeze on homes for Jews.

Abbas has snubbed Washington by declaring the “peace process” dead and by essentially telling the United States he can get what he wants in the United Nations, with or without Obama.

The timing of the U.N. vote is incredible because of the sudden election campaign in Israel.

Assuming the Security Council approves the Palestinian Authority proposal, an American veto would spoil the case by anti-Netanyahu parties that the Prime Minister has destroyed good relations with the United States.

The lack of a veto would instantly be seen as an attempt to undermine Netanyahu and interfere in the elections.

If the Obama administration would have taken the opportunity to chuck the whole mess it has fostered, it would be off the hook.

Instead, Obama might find himself hanging on it.

Yisrael Katz May Replace Lapid as Finance Minister

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to appoint Likud wheeler-dealer Yisrael Katz as Finance Minister this week, replacing Yair Lapid, whom the Prime Minister fired last week when he decided had enough of the current coalition.

Katz currently is Transportation Minister. He also is an old guard and powerful rough and tough Likud politician, who knows how to get things done but can’t do much of anything unless it is through a back-door deal.

Netanyahu did a masterful job as Finance Minister in the Sharon government a decade ago, and the economy probably would be better off if he were to continue to head the ministry until the elections in March.

However, it is the elections that are prompting him to have Katz take over the job, not for the sake of the economy but for the sake of his own position as Likud leader.

Giving Katz a more prominent position and power would keep at bay challengers to Netanyahu, such as Gideon Saar and Gilad Erdan.

Katz is excellent at pulling strings behind the curtain and keeping people in place, and managing the nation al treasury is nifty way to do so.

Limor Livnat Announces Retirement

Monday, December 8th, 2014

After 22 years in politics, Likud Minister Limor Livnat announced her retirement.

Livnat joined the Likud in 1992, and first served as a minister in 1996.

Livnat said will continue serving as a minister until elections.

Yesh Atid MK Accuses Netanyahu of Bombing Syria for Political Gain

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Yesh Atid Knesset Member Yifat Kariv Monday morning accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of ordering a bombing attack on Syrian weapons headed for Hezbollah in order to scare Israelis that they need him as prime minister to protect the country.

“Netanyahu can’t put together an alternative coalition, so decided to choose the path of terror and fear-mongering to set fire to the Middle East,

What is really scary is that this woman, who was asocial worker before demoting to herself to the rank of Knesset Member, sits on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, whose chairman is privy to the most secretive information in the country.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz on Monday, without mentioning her name, said that it was “ludicrous” for anyone even to suggest that the government authorized the bombing of Syria to gain votes.

He was being very kind to Kariv, who could be described with a few other adjectives not fit for publication. She gave Syrian President Bassar al-Assad an excellent excuse to accuse Israel of carrying out the bombing raid. Officially, the government has maintained the usual” no comment” stance on counter-terrorist actions against Syria and other countries.

Zahava Gal-On, who heads the left-wing Meretz party,  has more sense than to accuse Netanyahu of jeopardizing the entire country by bombing Syria for political points, but added that Kariv’s reaction shows “how little faith there is in Netanyahu’s government.

MK Kariv’s idiotic accusation should cost Yesh Atid a few votes.

 

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/yesh-atid-mk-accuses-netanyahu-of-bombing-syria-for-political-gain/2014/12/08/

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