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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Which Fatah Won the Palestinian Local Elections?

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Fatah leaders were quick to declare victory in the October 20 local elections in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -Ed.]. But the results of the vote for 93 municipal and village councils show that the vote was anything but a victory.

True, in some cities and villages, Fatah did win a majority of seats.

But this is not the same Fatah that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and the old guard leadership of the faction had backed.

Boycotted by Hamas, this was an election where Abbas’s veteran Fatah leadership mainly competed with Fatah candidates who decided to run on an independent ticket.

In the end, the Fatah “rebels” scored major victories in important cities, such as Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah, as well as many villages.

Abbas and the veteran Fatah leadership tried up to the last minute to dissuade the disgruntled members of his faction from running as independents, but to no avail.

The Fatah Central Committee, a body dominated by Abbas loyalists, later decided to expel all the Fatah candidates who insisted on running in the election separately.

The results of the elections show that many of the Fatah candidates who were dismissed scored significant victories. Candidates who were expelled from Fatah defeated those who expelled them: Abbas and old guard Fatah leaders.

Even in places where Abbas’s Fatah candidates won, the vote was on the basis of clan affiliation. Many Palestinians voted for Abbas’s Fatah candidates not because they were satisfied with the old guard leadership of Fatah, but simply because the candidate happened to belong to their clan.

What is perhaps most worrying for Abbas is the fact that a large number of his policemen and security officers voted for the dissident Fatah candidates who ran against the Palestinian Authority’s nominees.

Moreover, low voter turnout in many cities and villages is seen as a sign of indifference on the part of Palestinians in the West Bank. Palestinian analysts are convinced that had Hamas participated in the elections, turnout would have been much higher and the Islamist movement would easily have defeated a divided Fatah.

The low turnout and the success of Fatah rebels in the elections should be seen as a vote of no-confidence in Abbas and the old guard leadership of his ruling faction.

For decades, Abbas and his veteran loyalists in Fatah have blocked the emergence of fresh and younger leaders – something that has seriously affected Fatah’s credibility. Failure to reform Fatah and get rid of corrupt officials has also driven many Palestinians away from Abbas and his loyalists.

Abbas’s term in office expired in January 2009, but this has not stopped him from continuing to cling to power. In wake of the results of the local elections, it has become obvious that Abbas does not have a mandate — even from his Fatah faction — to embark on any significant political move, such as signing a peace treaty with Israel or applying for membership for a Palestinian state in the UN.

Instead of going to New York next month to ask for Palestinian membership, Abbas should stay in Ramallah and work toward reuniting and reforming Fatah before his political rivals drive him and his veteran loyalists out of office.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Likud-Beiteinu Worrying Left

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

The merger of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Yisrael Beiteinu party of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday has left-wing parties scrambling for a solution to the sudden show of solidarity on the part of the pro-nationalist camp.

In an article by Israel HaYom, an anonymous Kadima MK said unity on the left is a big item of discussion now, with emphasis on securing a great leader who will draw votes.

According to the MK, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, and Labor chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich are being called on to unify under the leadership of either former Foreign Minister and failed almost-Prime Minister and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni, or the recently acquitted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Both are expected to announce whether they will re-enter politics early next week.

Mofaz has said he will relinquish leadership of Kadima if either party needs the position in order to run for prime minister.

The strong Sephardic party, Shas, has expressed its concern over the Likud-Beiteinu merger, saying it could mean the drafting of Hareidi Jews into the army.

Hundreds of World Jewish Leaders Coming to Israel Next week

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Hundreds of Jewish leaders are coming to Israel next week from around the world to participate in the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors in Tel Aviv, October 28-30.

The central event is expected to be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attending a ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport welcoming the first charter flight of Operation Dove’s Wings, which will the conclude the Ethiopian Aliyah.

The conference will take place under the leadership of Chairman of the Board of Governors, James S. Tisch and Chairman of the Executive, Natan Sharansky. The Board of Governors will be held in Tel Aviv for the first time, at the invitation of Mayor Ron Huldai.

The Board of Governors is comprised of organizations from around the world and meets three times a year, traditionally in Jerusalem, to hold in depth strategic discussions about issues affecting the Jewish world.

Bennet’s Staff: ‘Netanyahu’s People Negotiated the Pact between Orlev and Hershkowitz’

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Over the past four years there has been some bitter infighting between the two Bayit Yehudi party members, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz and MK Zevulun Orlev, IDF Radio reported. Their relationship has been one of contempt and mistrust, to put it gently. Now, suddenly, there’s been a reconciliation at the helm of the National Religious Party. As Orlev put it: “Even though we’ve had our downhill slopes during our past term in office, I have willingly agreed to a joint leadership for the party, and everything will be carried out in unity.”

Orlev and Hershkowitz agreed on Monday night to what they call “a joint leadership based on the Shas party model.” Hershkowitz, who is behind in the polls, announced that he wouldn’t run for chairman of the party or even for a Knesset seat, but would participate in leading and managing the party. This decision will benefit Orlev who is running against Naftali Bennet, a one time member of Netanyahu’s team who has been on bad terms with the premier for the past several years. Sources close to Bennet say that Netanyahu’s supporters negotiated the “peace treaty” between Orlev and Hershkowitz in order to thwart Bennet’s political career.

Heshkowitz denies the charges. “People claim that Natan Eshel was involved in making the deal – I want to make it completely clear that this matter has no connection to the prime minister, neither directly nor indirectly.”

Bennet’s headquarters reacted by saying, “The old political system was completely exposed tonight. The public is looking for leadership, not an employment arrangement for politicians.”

First Crisis for Yachimovich: Kibbutzim Threatening to Leave Labor

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

The kibbutz movement is threatening to sever its historical ties with the Labor Party before the upcoming elections. The reason: the recommendation of party Chair Sheli Yachimovich that in the primaries their sector will be unified with the moshavim sector.

The kibbutz and moshav movements have historically marked two distinct philosophies within the labor movement, and nowadays, despite privatization and many other changes both movements have undergone, they still view themselves as historically distinct and as such each deserving its own dedicated representation.

Should the Yacimovich proposal be accepted in a procedural vote at the party conference by the end of the month, it will guarantee both sectors only one Knesset seat, in place of the two seats which traditionally have gone to them. According to the kibbutz movement leadership, such a move may result in their abandoning the party with which they have been strongly identified over the years.

Hanik Marshak, secretary of the kibbutzim sector, was furious at the Yachimovich decision “We oppose such a move,” she told Maariv. “Consolidating seats might hurt the party in terms of its size and representation. The Labor Party should continue its tradition of many years and not change the procedure.”

Marshak also promised that if the issue is not resolved, the kibbutzim will consider the possibility of leaving the party. “We will assemble our sector’s institutions and come to a decision,” she said.

A source inside the Labor party estimated that if it loses the kibbutzim votes, this will mark the first crisis under the leadership of Yachimovich.

Today, according to estimates, the kibbutzim sector within the Labor party holds about 7,000 registered voters. In past years, the same sector boasted as many as 15 thousand voters.

Last election the Labor Party lost its traditional control over the kibbutzim to Kadima. Labor, then still under the leadership of Ehud Barak, received the support of 30.6 percent of the kibbutzim voters, compared with 31.1 percent that went to Tzipi Livni’s party.

An old joke best explains the distinction between a kibbutz and a moshav: if a kibbutznik had enough, he’ll probably move to a moshav (easier communal rules); but if a moshavnik had enough – he sure as heck is not moving to a kibbutz (even more stringent communal rules).

Now it appears the entire kibbutz movement might be moving – but probably not to a moshav…

Assad’s Sister Defected

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Bushra al-Assad, sister of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has fled Syria with her children, an informed source told Al Arabiya English on Tuesday. Her husband, Assef Shawqat, who was the deputy chief of staff of the Syrian military, was assassinated in July.

According to the opposition website All4Syria.info, Bushra left Syria to Dubai. Apparently she fled to the UAE in the past, during a short family quarrel with her brother, Bashar.

The pro-Syrian Lebanese daily Ad-Diyar reported that Bushra, a pharmacist, was on her way to Dubai, but didn’t specify whether it would be her final destination.

According to Al Arabiya, Bushra escaped Syria amid reports of internal strife within the Alawite sect, to which the president and most of the military, intelligence, and government leadership belong.

After the assassination of her husband, Bushra expressed great anxiety about her own and her children’s safety. A recent palace “quasi-coup” within the ranks of the Alawite leadership has driven Bushra to flee Syria.

According to Ad-Diyar, “some Alawite leaders are worried that the whole sect would eventually be implicated by President Assad in crimes against civilians,” and this has turned some of them against him. It appears that a “front of Alawite officers” has been formed to negotiate with the rebels’ Free Syrian Army on overthrowing the president.

Bushra feared becoming a target of those Alawites gone rogue, who were implicated by her husband in killing civilians.

Drama in the ‘Jewish Home’ Party

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

In less than three months time the Jewish Home Party, formerly known as the National Religious Party (NRP), will be holding its first ever internal primaries. Although for most political parties the holding of primaries is not a newsworthy event, in the case of the Jewish Home Party this is quite a story.

Although for many years after its inception the NRP was consistently a ten to fifteen member party, ever since the end of the 9th Knesset in 1981 the strength of the party has been drastically reduced. With the brief exception of the 14th Knesset of 1996 when the party managed to climb back over the ten member threshold, for years the party hovered between four to six members before finally crashing down to its current level of three.

Some of the reason for the loss of power was due to the endless splintering in the national camp throughout the years as internal disputes regarding direction and vision frequently led to the creation of new parties. Similarly, for some on the left the party was seen as focusing too much on communities in Judea-Samaria-Gaza while to some on the right the party was seen as being too wishy-washy and unwilling to take a forceful stand. As a result the party witnessed an erosion of power as voters from both sides slowly drifted away.

Even the recruitment ten years ago of Effie Eitam and all the excitement that his name and presence generated couldn’t reverse the trend. Similarly, the various mergers or attempted mergers in recent years with the National Union have failed to stop the bleeding.

The result of this process is that some members of the national camp have turned to the Likud, some to the National Union and yet others to Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu.

Thus there exists today the absurd situation where on the one hand the national religious community excels and even leads in some key areas of the country – the military and hi-tech to name just a few – while in the political realm their power is diffused and hence their collective influence is nearly non-existent.

Only with both an understanding of this background and with the knowledge that unless there is a radical change the Jewish Home Party might simply disappear from the political map in the coming years, can one truly appreciate the events surrounding the upcoming party elections.

For starters, while two of the candidates for the party leadership, Zevulun Orlev and Daniel Hershkowitz, are rightly or wrongly associated with the old guard that has made the party nearly irrelevant, the third candidate, 40-year-old Naftali Bennett, is creating much excitement and anticipation. The former chief of staff of Netanyahu prior to the 2009 elections, Bennett is trying to move the party away from its traditional role of being a small sector-related party that is usually satisfied with only trying to influence the larger ruling parties and instead transform it into a significantly broader and larger party that is finally involved in leading.

Moreover, Bennett’s approach and the high hopes that are being placed on him has convinced a wide range of candidates – such as Ayelet Shaked, the secular co-founder of the MyIsrael national movement, Moti Yogev, the former Secretary General of Bnei Akiva and Dr Yehuda David, the Israeli physician who fought for the truth in the Mohammed al-Dura story – to enter the elections for the party list which are being held one week after the elections for the party leader.

Nevertheless, while Bennett’s race for the leadership and his plan to open up the party to the wider national camp in order to include traditional and secular members side by side with religious ones has earned him the support of many, including perhaps most importantly that of current Jewish Home Party member of Knesset Uri Orbach, his two opponents are still confident that they can defeat their relatively young rival.

Thus as the race to sign up members to the party comes to a close on September 9, the three candidates for the party leadership are preparing for the final push to the November 6 elections. The results of that day will probably mean the continued irrelevance of a once proud party or a breath of fresh air and hope for a frustrated and splintered national camp.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/drama-in-the-jewish-home-party/2012/08/29/

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