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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Knesset Member’

Israeli Democracy Dealt Blow with ‘Governance Act’

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Last night the Knesset voted to raise the threshold vote from 2 to 4 percent. This means that a political party must win 4.8 seats before it can receive its first seat in the Knesset. It was presented by the Likud-Beiteinu faction as a necessary measure to enable Israel’s government to govern without the constant fear of being toppled by a walkout of one of its minor coalition members.

The new threshold would effectively eliminate the small parties in Israel, forcing them to align in large power blocks or disappear. Meanwhile, their votes should be siphoned off to four or five major parties.

There’s an inherent problem in Israel’s parliamentary system, which has made it difficult for coalition governments over the past 65 years: the executive, meaning the prime minister, is also a member of the legislative body. In order to stay in power, he or she must juggle the Knesset membership around to maintain a majority of at least 61 out of 120 members. If they go below 60, their government is likely to lose a vote of no confidence (of which it endures about 10 a week), and the nation must go to new elections.

Under the U.S. constitution, it is perfectly fine for the president to govern while both houses of Congress are in the hands of a party other than his own. He will serve out his term of four years (unless he is impeached), and would simply have to haggle with the opposition party to get his legislation through.

An attempt in the recent past to let the voter pick the prime minister in a separate vote ended up with a disappointment to anyone who thought they would attain executive stability this way – and the separate PM vote was scrapped. It appears that the only real solution would be for Israel to switch to a presidential system, with an executive who governs outside the Knesset.

But such a change would be rejected by the smaller parties, who get their life’s blood—i.e. patronage jobs—from their leaders’ stints as government ministers. A cabinet run by an executive who isn’t himself an MK would be staffed by technocrats rather than by politicians, and the smaller parties would be left out to dry, unable to suckle on the government’s teat.

The new “Governance Act” that was passed last night would presumably have the same effect on the smaller parties: they would become history. This means the elimination of all the parties that currently boast fewer than 5 MKs: Hadash (Arabs) has 4, Ra’am Ta’al-Mada (Arabs) has 4, National Democratic Assembly (Arabs) has 3, and Kadima has 2.

You may have noticed a recurring ethnic group among the Knesset factions which would be eliminated by the Governance Act. Those 11 “Arab” seats would be eliminated, unless, of course, these three factions, with vastly different platforms (one is Communist, the other two not at all). are able to unite around their single common denominator, namely that they’re not Jews.

The political thinker behind this power grab is MK Avigdor Liberman, who’s been dreaming about a Knesset where his faction, Likud-Beiteinu, could win a decisive majority, once and for all. His henchman, MK David Rotem, was the bill’s sponsor. But the law of unintended consequences and double-edged swords is strong in Israel, and the new bill could just as easily be just what the Left needed to stage a resounding comeback.

Labor (15 MKs) and Meretz (6 MKs) are really the old Mapai, Achdut Ha’avoda and Mapam, the three Zionist workers parties. Hadash is really a remnant of Maki and Rakach, the two Communist parties which split off Mapam. If the leftist establishment got it together—as it did in 1992—it could cobble Labor, Meretz, the Arabs, Kadima and Livni to create a juggernaut of more than 35, possibly 40 seats.

This kind of unity could only be forged by a common feeling of a great betrayal by the right-wing government – and, what do you know, judging by last night’s drama over the threshold vote, such a sense of betrayal is permeating the smaller parties.

One after another, opposition MKs came up to the podium and used up their time to keep silent. MK Jamal Zahalka strapped duct tape over his mouth. MK Ahmad Tibi stood with his back to the plenum. Merets chair zehava Gal-on wept, her hands over her face.

The Phenomenal Anastasia Michaeli

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Who is Anastasia Michal Michaelevski Samuelson? Fashion model, electronics engineer, Beauty Queen, Knesset Member, devoted mother of eight, champion of the underdog, passionate Israeli, committed Jew?

Would you believe that she is all of the above – and more?

Her amazing life began in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1975, when she was born into a Christian family. In St. Petersburg, after winning a beauty contest, Anastasia participated in a local version of the “Top Model” television show, and landed a position in Paris, France.

Back in Russia, Anastasia met and married Yossi Samuelson, a Latvian-born Israeli Jew 10 years her senior, and converted to Judaism when Samuelson was employed in Moscow by Tadiran, an Israeli electrical supplier. Before leaving for Israel, Anastasia earned a Master’s degree in electronics engineering from the University of St. Petersburg.

In Israel, after the birth of her second son, Anastasia underwent an Orthodox Jewish conversion, culminating with the couple’s re-marriage, this time according to strictly religious rites.

Anastasia continued her studies in Israel and earned a business administration certificate from Bar Ilan University.

In 2005, Ms. Samuelson entered politics. By 2006 she was running for the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, joining Yisrael Beitenu, “Israel Is Our Home” Party. Winning a Knesset seat, MK Anatasia Michaeli has made history by becoming the first incumbent Knesset Member to give birth, bearing her eighth child, and fifth son, shortly after assuming office. Anastasia and Yosef’s seven other children are: David, Rami, Yehonatan, Racheli, Tali, Eli and Michal. Anastasia confided that she would consult with her rabbi before choosing a name for her youngest child.

When asked the sex of her soon-to-be-born eighth child, Anastasia Michaeli Samuelson patted her belly and said with a proud smile: “Another soldier!”

The glamorous 34-year-old Knesset member was not being flippant, nor is she daunted by the domestic burdens a large family implies. “God gave women powers,” she declares. “My home runs like a well-oiled machine. My children are taught the meaning of responsibility.”

“Yehonatan, David and Rami run the household – they wash the floor and do the shopping. Eli, who is three and a half, folds his pants by himself. I fold them after him, but let him get used to it, let them learn the value of money. We are modest people who know how save money.”

She has a kosher home, she says, is careful not to mix meat and milk, and has enrolled her brood in state religious schools. Her office is seeking funding for the yeshiva of a rabbi in her hometown of Rishon Letzion.

As if to buttress her claim to super womanhood, a framed cover of the January issue of La’Isha, a popular Israeli women’s magazine, looks down from a wall above her swivel chair and desk in her Knesset office, showing her cheerful, impeccably dressed brood, with Mom Anastasia, svelte and radiant, beaming in front of them.

Gilad Shalit’s Father to Enter Politics

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Noam Shalit, father of recently-freed IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, informed Labor party Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich that he will run for a slot on the Labor Party list in the next elections. Yachimovich welcomed his decision and said she is “convinced that he will greatly contribute to Labor as a Knesset Member.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/gilad-shalits-father-to-enter-politics/2012/01/09/

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