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September 15, 2014 / 20 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Likud Beiteinu’

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.

Bennett and Jewish Home Soar in Polls, Challenge Likud for Lead

Friday, July 26th, 2013

The Jewish Home party, headed by Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Naftali Bennett, would win only three Knesset seats less than the leading Likud-Beiteinu party If elections were held today according to a new Knesset Channel poll.

Likud would win 22 seats, followed by Jewish Home with 19, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party 16, Labor 15, Meretz 12 and the other parties less than five each.

The poll’s results are missing some data because the total number of the seats allocated to the parties is 15 less than the 120 in the Knesset. Even if 10 are added for the Arab parties, another five are missing.

One questionable statistic is the four seats allocated to Shas, three less than in the previous poll. Shas perennially wins approximately 10 mandates in the polls and usually comes up with one or two more in the elections. In the current Knesset, Shas has 11 seats.

The popularity of Bennett is unquestioned. He eagerly backed national religious Rabbi David Stav for Chief Rabbi and was dealt a severe loss with the solid victory of Haredi Rabbi David Lau.

Bennett lost the battle, but he picked up lots of Brownie points among the public, most of which is fed up with the Haredi domination of the Rabbinate.

The poll also showed that Lapid is holding his own with 16 seats, three less than his party now holds in the Knesset but one more than in the previous toll. Lapid has won support for his campaign for the universal draft, an issue that apparently is more important to the middle class than higher taxes that Lapid has imposed.

The popularity of Labor, headed by Shelley Yachimovich, dropped sharply from the 22 seats it won in the previous poll. It has 15 Knesset Members, the same number it would retain according to this week’s poll.

Meretz’s growing support , with 12 seats compared with the six it now holds, reflects frustration with Yachimovich, who has been far from spectacular.

If elections were held today, Kadima, headed by Shaul Mofaz, would be erased from the political map, which is no surprise.

Tzipi Livni’s Tnuva party would win only three seats, half of the number she now holds, and that also is not much of a surprise. She has no agenda other than opposing Netanyahu and supporting  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Reform Movement New Meddling in Israeli Policy: the Bedouin

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

The Reform movement is revving up the Chutzpah, positioning itself as a standard bearer for both the Israeli and American Left. Having scored two court victories on what are, essentially, Reform services conducted at the Kotel, the movement is now setting its sights on new and promising areas of Israeli policy. To wit, the Reform movement has urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to set aside legislation that would “displace 30,000 Bedouin in the Negev Desert,” JTA reported.

As you may recall, In January, Minister without portfolio Benny Begin, serving in a caretaker government, proposed a land reform for the Bedouin population that was going to transform the Negev. Ignoring previous court decisions, the Begin plan was going to sanction the Bedouin squatter tenants, all of them illegal, as the legal owners of much of the Negev.

At stake is land totaling hundreds of thousands of acres all over the Negev, claimed by Bedouin squatters. In the 1970s, the Bedouin were allowed to register ownership claims over these parcels with the Justice Ministry, but the state never recognized these claims, because they were not backed by legal proof of ownership. Moreover, every time the Bedouin tried to take the state to court to secure their legal ownership over the land, they lost and their lands were registered as property of the state.

In April, the new government coalition partners, Jewish Home and Yesh Atid, together with most of the Likud-Beiteinu ministers, reached an agreement to introduce significant changes to the Begin plan, after it had already been approved by the transitional government after the election.

The change, essentially, eliminates the Begin plan in favor of the original 2011 plan, which was approved a much less generous land giveaway to the Negev Bedouin.

Reform Rabbi David Saperstein

Reform Rabbi David Saperstein

Reform Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, said in a letter sent Sunday that the plan under consideration in the Knesset is premature.

“Any plan to resettle members of the Bedouin community must be developed with leaders of that community rather than be forced upon them,” Saperstein wrote in the letter. “The sense of displacement, along with potential for increased poverty and violence, that will accompany the dismantling of unrecognized villages is very real and must be treated with the utmost sensitivity.”

The letter also said any plan must secure “fair compensation” for the Bedouin.

That’s fair compensation for a land they do not own.

The letter concludes:

In 2001, the Central Conference of American Rabbis called upon rabbis and congregations to “address the issue of social justice in Israel for…Bedouin” and encouraged “the North American Jewish community to work with the Israeli government in addressing these issues.” And in a 2009 resolution, the Union for Reform Judaism declared support for “the Israeli government in addressing the issues of unrecognized Bedouin villages, equal rights for Bedouin citizens, and needed infrastructure in the form of health, education, and other essential services.” In addition to securing fair compensation for those members of the Bedouin community who will be displaced, it is imperative that the government take great care to extend services to those Bedouin who are resettled in recognized villages to protect their quality of life.

We urge you to suspend the plan currently under discussion and allow for greater exploration of its implications and impact, particularly the displacement of existing Bedouin communities.

That’s their justification for weighing in on an internal business of the state of Israel: the fact that they issues one resolution in 2001, and the other in 2009. And if Netanyahu is not careful, they’ll issue a third.

Reform Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Reform Rabbi Rick Jacobs

URJ President, Reform Rabbi Rick Jacobs is already on record in a Jewish Week interview that while he opposes BDS action that delegitimize Israel’s right to exist, he is not so certain regarding boycotts of goods made in Judea and Samaria. An avid supporter of both the NIF and J Street, Jacobs is leading his powerful (1,5 million members, many of whom are Jewish), left-wing movement in what’s shaping up to be an assault against the religious right in Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lapid Threat: On Haredi Draft It’s ‘Equal Burden’ or New Elections

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid warned on Monday that if the government wants to stay in power, it will have to approve a committee’s recommendation on “equal burden,” including criminal actions against draft dodgers.

“If anyone thinks I entered politics only to solve the economic disaster that the previous government left in behind, they are making a big mistake, said the finance minister.

Lapid is proving himself to be a smart politician. He has the secular anti-Haredi public’s vote in his pocket, no matter what. He can scream to the rafters over compromises on the “Peri Committee” recommendations for equal military service for citizens  - well, at least for Jews – and can still agree to a compromise.

His threat to “dissolve the coalition” is real, but neither he nor the anti-Haredi public will mind if a small compromise is made because they know that a political bird in the hand is worth two doubtful birds in the bush. The alternative is a new coalition – probably one with Haredim – or new elections. Both options are really non-starters.

His party took home 19 seats to catapult his fledgling party into the number two spot, behind Likud Beiteinu, on the strength of his demand for equal burden in the draft, a break for the middle class and concessions to the Palestinian Authority for the sake of a peace agreement.

In fact, he has taken positions four-square against the demands of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Lapid even has sounded like a mild nationalist, stating that Jerusalem cannot be divided and making the totally impractical suggestion that Abbas take a step back and agree for interim borders for a new PA state. He even has approved funding for Ariel University located in central Samaria.

Concessions to the Haredim on the military draft is his red line, as he made clear on Monday after Naftali Bennett, chairman  of the Jewish Home party, argued against the Peri panel’s recommendations for criminal charges against draft dodgers.

He said he “does not want to see a police battalion” storm Bnei Brak to arrests Haredim draft evaders.

As with most apparent political crises in Israel, the hot air is a warning to the other side not to try to throw too much cold water on an issue, which in this case is the draft. After all of the thunder and lightning, some kind of compromise will be reached, such as changing the tone of the clause requiring criminal action against draft dodgers in return for extending the military draft for Hesder yeshiva students.

All of the noise has another advantage. It drowns out any mention of the massive draft dodging among many secular Israelis, the ones who voted for Lapid.

The drum beats for dissolving the coalition and risking new elections also silences any reminder about any obligation for the Arab sector.

If Bennett does not want to see a police battalion deployed in Bnei Brak, Lapid would fall over himself before allowing a police battalion to enter Umm-al-Fahm, home of the northern branch of the radical Islamic Movement.

Likud Beiteinu Tourism Minister Uzi Landau asked on Sunday why the Peri Committee did not recommend forcing Israeli Arabs to fulfill a duty of national service.

One obvious reason is that while there is a political benefit from taking aim at the Haredi public, no one is going to switch political support for someone who makes demands of the Arab sector.

Besides, the police would not dare storm Umm-al-Fahm.

And Lapid knows that Bnei Brak would not be a piece of cake, either.

Israel Moves Closer to Eliminating Small Parties

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

A bill to increase the minimum number for a political party to be represented in the Knesset has passed a ministerial committee and will be brought to the Knesset for a first vote. If it passes, it will be discussed in a Knesset committee for returning to the Knesset for further votes.

The bill is sponsored by Likud Beiteinu Knesset Member Dudi Rotem. It would double the current 2 percent minimum, and if it passes, it would be much more difficult for parties such as Kadima, which has only two Knesset Members in the current legislature, to be elected.

The proposal also could affect the three predominantly Arab parties, each of which has only three or four Knesset Members.

Likud-Beytenu to Split?

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

An Israel Channel 10 report speculated on Sunday that Likud and Yisrael Beytenu are headed their separate ways.

Avigdor Liberman will be holding a press conference at 11:00 AM on Monday, where it is believed he may announce the split between the two parties.

If the parties do split, then the Likud will remain the largest party in the coalition by only one seat, while Yisrael Beytenu will drop down to being the fifth largest party, sharing that spot with Shas.

Others are questioning the credibility of the report, since dividing the two parties would cause both Likud and Yisrael Beytenu to lose power and influence against the Bennett-Lapid alliance, which appears to still be holding strong.

Even before elections there were rumors that the two parties would split once a government was formed.

Israel Has New Government

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Reshet Bet announced early Friday morning that the Likud and Habayit Hayehudi have resumed their talks, after a 12-hour disconnect, and reached a final agreement on a new government, which will be introduced later today, Friday.

The agreement was reached after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called up Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett and asked him personally to overlook the slight of not receiving the title of Deputy Prime Minister. He told him that in the new government there will be no Deputy Prime Ministers at all.

Both Bennett and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid responded curtly to a news item they heard over the radio on Thursday, that the Deputy positions, about which they had reached a verbal agreement with the Likud-Beiteinu negotiating team, were taken away.

Likud circles not particularly enamoured with the PM spread the rumor that it was Sara Netanyahu, Benjamin’s wife, who insisted, at the last minute, on sticking it to her husband’s new coalition partners.

The PM’s circles denied the rumors, saying it was just another vicious attack on Sara Netanyahu, and her personal arch-enemy, Naftali Bennett.

Habayit Hayehudi circles said in response that it was not a reassuring way of ushering in a new coalition—killing unilaterally an item everybody had shaken hands on.

The Bennett people refused to attend the meeting Thursday evening in which the government deal was supposed to be finalized, and the first coalition crisis appeared to have erupted even before there was a coalition in place.

Netanyahu had to swallow a frog in apologizing to Bennett personally, and Bennett and Lapid in return swallowed the frogs of not becoming acting PMs when Bibi is away touring the world.

Now the fact that Sara’s contribution effectively killed the position of Deputy PM, Netanyahu will not be able to dole out bites at this honor to senior Likudniks, such as MK Silvan Shalom, who won’t receive a real portfolio. Thank you, Sara.

The Shas and United Torah Judaism factions are livid, obviously, arguing that if they’re out of office, their constituency is going to be ignored. Well, not exactly ignored, more like enlisted and made to study Math and English in yeshiva.

MK Aryeh Deri, who was reinstated in the Shas Knesset list with the hope of increasing its size (they ended up with 11 – just like the Knesset before), was making the rounds all day Thursday, promising to be part of a fighting opposition, whose utmost goal would be to topple this government. A renowned Haredi leftists, who pushed his party into signing on to the Oslo Accords, Deri said he had no problem cooperating with Labor, Meretz, and the Arab lists, to bring down Netanyahu.

Unless he get a government seat sometime down the road.

Habayit Hayehudi will possess five portfolios in the new government, although those will be divided among only three ministers. So Naftali Bennett is now also Minister of Religious Services.

The 20 Likud MKs are competing over a mere 15 positions of power: seven ministerial roles, four deputy ministers, four heads of Knesset committees and the role of Speaker of the House. The portfolios of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Tourism and Absorption has been given to members of the Israel Beiteinu, while members of the Likud will take Interior, Transportation, Communications, Homeland Defense, and the Strategic Affairs Ministry.

A big improvement would be the appointment of former IDF chief of staff Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon as Defense Minister. Yaalon, whose boss at the time, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, opted not to renew his contract in 2005, because he did not trust the former to pursue zealously the evacuation of thousands of Gush Katif Jews. Mofaz appointed Dan Halutz to the job, and Halutz promptly bungled an invasion of Gaza and a war in Lebanon.

Beginning next week, probably on Monday, Israel’s 33rd government—Netanyahu’s third—will be sworn in, featuring 22 ministers, including the Prime Minister, and eight deputy ministers. The Speaker is expected to be the current Minister of Information and Diaspora, MK Yuli Edelstein.

In the almost-final compromise agreement reached Thursday, Netanyahu agreed to give up the education portfolio, which will go to Yesh Atid’s MK Rabbi Shai Piron, Likud-Beiteinu will get Interior, and Habayit Hayehudi will head the Knesset Finance Committee.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-has-new-government/2013/03/15/

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