We’re not endorsing Netanyahu. A vote for Bennett is definitely just as good.
But when we saw this Chuck Norris video, we knew had to put it up (or else).
We’re not endorsing Netanyahu. A vote for Bennett is definitely just as good.
But when we saw this Chuck Norris video, we knew had to put it up (or else).
MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) sent a special request to Prime Minister Netanyahu, asking for permission to go up to the Temple Mount on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister previously forbade Feiglin from entering the Jewish Holy site.
This Tuesday, Moshe’s son David, who survived a horrendous car crash, is set to get married (Mazel Tov).
Moshe would like to accompany his son up onto the Temple Mount tomorrow, on the day he is to get married, as any other citizen would normally be allowed to do – but at present Moshe is not allowed.
We will update you if Moshe receives the special permission or not from the Prime Minister.
The Israeli political system is radically different from the one in the United States. The most obvious differences are that Israel is a parliamentary system with more than 20 potential parties in the mix, unlike just the two standard American parties, the Democrats and the Republicans.
This year 26 parties are vying for positions in the upcoming vote, 11 of which are likely to pass the threshold requirement for becoming part of the next Knesset.
The first step of this year’s Israeli election to determine who makes it into the Knesset at all, then which parties will form the governing coalition, and finally, who will be the prime minister of the state of Israel, takes place next Tuesday, March 17.
The date was set by a formal meeting in early December, of all the then-current Knesset party leaders. Those leaders chose the date for the election to take place in just four months. While four months is a dramatically short campaign period by American standards, Israeli law permits only five months to elapse between the dissolution of one Knesset and the election for the next.
Election day is a big deal in Israel. Virtually everything, except the polling places, is closed. Free transportation is provided for any voter who needs it to reach their regular polling place.
On March 17, all eligible voters – every Israeli citizen over 18 years of age – can vote. That includes Arabs, Muslims, Christians and Jews, men and women, able-bodied and those with disabilities. There is no voter registration system; every citizen is automatically registered once they turn 18. Nearly six million Israelis are eligible to vote in this year’s election.
MARCH 17: THE BALLOT BOX
Eligible Israeli voters go to polling places in their neighborhoods. There are more than 10,000 polling places throughout this tiny country. Most open at 7:00 a.m. and remain open until 10:00 p.m.
Turnout for Israeli elections has been declining for years, but it’s still well over 60 percent. In the U.S., turnout has been in the low-to mid 50 percent zone since the early 1970’s.
Before entering the voting booth, each voter is handed an envelope. Inside the booth is a tray, with different strips of paper. Each strip of paper includes the name and symbol of a party. The voter chooses the slip of paper which has the name and symbol of the party for whom they wish to vote, and puts that piece of paper in the envelope they were handed. After leaving the booth the voter places the envelope with their chosen party slip into the ballot box.
Israeli voters choose parties, not individual candidates, which, among other things, means their national representation is ideological, not geographic, and the vote is proportional, meaning the 120 Knesset seats are divvied up in proportion to each party’s percentage of the total vote. There is a minimum threshold for a party to meet before it can sit in the Knesset. That minimum is currently set at 3.25 percent of the total votes cast, which translates into four seats.
PHASE TWO: HORSE TRADING
Once the polling places close and the ballots are counted, the second phase of the Israeli election begins, the one frequently described as “horse trading.” In order to have the right to form a government and choose the prime minister, a group of parties needs to be able to control a majority of the Israeli Knesset, the single chamber Israeli legislature. The Knesset has 120 seats.
With so many parties competing, no single one has ever attained that magic number of 61 seats, and it is even likely that three or more parties need to agree to work together to form the ruling coalition. Therefore, parties which have been thrashing each other in public now start eying each other as potential dance partners, trying to figure out with whom they can create a functioning coalition to run the government.
This coalition building phase is a little bit like when, after a brutal primary in the U.S., the second place vote getter and the winner frequently kiss, make up, and agree to live with each other as their party’s candidate for president and vice president during the general election. But several different parties and lots of individual members of those parties are all added into the Israeli decision making mix. It isn’t easy.
But first let’s back up. How were the individuals on each party’s list chosen?
As soon as the Knesset is dissolved, either because it reached its four year expiration date, or because it is dispersed for some other reason (such as happened in the current case, when Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the Knesset to disperse and the Knesset unanimously agreed, on Dec. 8), the parties begin internal negotiations to determine who will be on their official “list,” and in what order. The higher up on the list one is, the greater the likelihood of actually making it into the Knesset.
There are various systems for determining who are included, and where they are placed, on each party’s list, including voting by the party leadership. Additional factors are taken into consideration, such as whether enough women are included, whether there are security experts represented, whether certain ethnic minorities will be included.
PRIME MINISTER SELECTION
How does one of the party members then become the prime minister? Israel’s president, currently former Knesset member Ruby Rivlin, selects the member of Knesset believed to have the best chance of forming a viable coalition government, given the election results. This can take some time until the parties are able to align so that they can govern together.
Some of the horse trading here involves party leaders with high numbers demanding significant ministry positions in exchange for pledging their party’s support. Compare this to the ability of the U.S. president, once elected, then deciding who will become the various cabinet members.
This phase is incredibly complicated. For example, right now at least five different parties will be needed to join together to create a ruling coalition. And it is not as if just the top five vote-getting parties will join together, because of differences in ideology.
For example, the tiny far left Meretz party, which currently is polling at five seats, thought it would be able to create a power bloc by pairing up with the Joint Arab List. The Arab group dashed those hopes, claiming they would not join with “Zionists.”
Another complicating factor is that certain parties have claimed they will not join in a coalition with Netanyahu, and the Likud has ruled out creating a coalition with other parties, including the current frontrunner, the so-called “Zionist Union.” That party is a joining together of the center-left Labor party and Tzipi Livni and her entourage. Livni has changed parties so many times in the past few years most people just refer to this new party as Labor-Livni.
Once finally selected, the prime minister announces the formation of a new Knesset and the offices each minister will hold.
January 29 was the deadline for all parties to submit their lists of candidates. As of that date, the following parties had the following members in the following order (the parties are listed in terms of their most recent polling status):
ZIONIST UNION (1) Isaac Herzog (2) Tzipi Livni (3) Shelly Yachimovich (4) Stav Shaffir (5) Itzik Shmuly (6) Omer Bar-Lev (7) Hilik Bar (8) Amir Peretz (9) Merav Michaeli (10) Eitan Cabel (11) Manuel Trajtenberg (12) Erel Margalit (13) Mickey Rosenthal (14) Revital Swid (15) Danny Atar (16) Yoel Hassan (17) Zuhair Bahloul (18) Eitan Broshi (19) Michal Biran (20) Nachman Shai (21) Ksenia Svetlova (22) Ayelet Nahmias Verbin (23) Yossi Yona (24)Eyal Ben-Reuven (25) Yael Cohen-Paran. The left-center Zionist Union was forged by combining Labor and Tzipi Livni and her followers, has very recently been polling at between 20 and 24 seats.
LIKUD: (1) Benjamin Netanyahu (2) Gilad Erdan (3) Yuli Edelstein (4) Yisrael Katz (5) Miri Regev (6)Silvan Shalom (7) Moshe Ya’alon (8) Ze-ev Elkin (9) Danny Danon (10) Yariv Levin (11) Benny Begin (12) Tzachi Hanegbi (13) Yuval Steinitz (14) Gila Gamliel (15) Ophir Akunis (16) David Bitan (17) Haim Katz (18) Jackie Levy (19) Yoav Kish (20) Tzipi Hotovely (21) Dudu Amsalem (22) Miki Zohar (23) Dr. Anat Berko (24) Ayoob Kara (25) Nava Boker. Likud has been polling at between 26 and 20 seats, most recently declining.
YESH ATID (1) Yair Lapid (2) Shai Piron (3) Yael German (4) Meir Cohen (5) Yaakov Peri (6) Ofer Shelah (7) Haim Yalin (8) Karine Elharrar (9) Yoel Razvozov (10) Alize Lavie (11) Mickey Levy (12) Elazar Stern (13) Pnina Tamano-Shata (14) Boaz Toporovsky (15) Ruth Calderon. Yesh Atid focuses on social and economic issues and was brand new for the last elections. Yesh Atid has been polling at around 10 – 13 seats.
JOINT ARAB LIST (1) Aiman Uda (Hadash) (2) Masud Ganaim (Islamic Movement (3) Ahmad Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) (4) Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash (6) Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya (Islamic Movement) (7) Haneen Zoabi (Balad) (8) Dov Khenin (Hadash) (9) Taleb Abu Arar (Islamic Movement). The Joint Arab party has been polling between 11 and 13 seats.
BAYIT YEHUDI (1) Naftali Bennett (2) Uri Ariel (3) Ayelet Shaked (4) Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan(5) Nissan Slomiansky (6) Yinan Magal (7) Moti Yogev (8) Bezalel Smotrich (9) Shuli Mualem (10) Avi Wortzman (11) Nir Orbach (12) rabbi Avi Rontzki (13) Orit Struck (14) Anat Roth (15) Ronen Shoval. Bayit Yehudi, the religious Zionist party, has recently been polling between 10 and 14 seats.
KULANU (1) Moshe Kahlon (2) Yoav Galant (3) Eli Alalouf (4) Michael Oren (5) Rachel Azaria (6)Tali Ploskov (7) Dr. Yifat Shasha-Biton (8) Eli Cohen (9) Roy Folkman (10)Merav Ben-Ari. Kulanu is a brand new party created by its number one on the list. Kahlon is understood to have destroyed the cell phone monopoly in Israel. Kahlon has not ruled out joining with Likud or Zionist Union. His determination to be the next finance minister is well-known. Kulanu has been polling around 8 – 10 seats.
SHAS (1) Aryeh Deri (2) Yitzhak Cohen (3) Meshulam Nahari (4) Yakov Margi (5) David Azoulay (6) Yoav Ben-Tzur (7) Yitzhak Vaknin (8) Avraham Michaeli. Shas (the Sephardi Haredi party which has experienced severe upheaval since its leader, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef’s death in Oct. 2013) has been polling pretty consistently at 7 seats.
UNITED TORAH JUDAISM (1) Yaakov Litzman (2) Moshe Gafni (3) Meir Porush (4) Uri Maklev (5)Menachem Eliezer Moses (6) Israel Eichler (7) Yaakov Asher (8) Eliezer Sorotzkin. UTJ, the Ashkenazi charedi party, has recently been polling between 6 and 7 seats.
YISRAEL BEITEINU (1) Avigdor Lieberman (2) Orly Levy-Abekasis (3) Sofa Landver (4) Ilan Shohat (5) Sharon Gal (6) Hamad Amar (7) Robert Ilatov. Yisrael Beiteinu is identified with the Russian immigrants and is considered right wing, although it does not believe in annexing Judea and Samaria. It has been polling at 5 seats for quite some time.
MERETZ (1) Zehava Gal-on (2) Ilan Gilon (3) Issawi Frej (4) Michal Rozin (5) Tamar Zandberg (6) Mossi Raz (7) Gaby Lasky. Meretz, which is left on social and Arab-Israeli issues, has been polling pretty consistently at around 5 seats.
YACHAD (1) Eli Yishai (2) Yoni Chetboun (3) Michael Ayash (4) Baruch Marzel (5) Sasson Trebelsi. Yachad, only recently created as a split off from Shas, has been polling between 4 – 6 seats.
Other parties which are not expected to reach the threshold number of votes include the Green Party, the Green Leaf (legalize marijuana) Party, Rent with Honor Party, the Economics Party, a Charedi Women’s Party (called Ubezchutan) and even something called the Pirate Party. Gotta love Israelis.
JewishPress.com will post another primer once the elections reach the second phase: assembling the ruling coalition.
Aryeh Deri has crushed any hope of the Herzog-Livni duo that they can form the next government coalition and has paved the way for a Netanyahu-led Haredi-right-wing administration.
Deri, and the Shas party he heads, have a long record of moving left or right so long as the party can be part of a coalition and squeeze the government for money for its institutions. The party and its chairman have no ideology when it comes to being part of the power structure.
When Deri says he is a leftist, don’t believe him
When he say he is a nationalist, don’t believe him.
However, on Thursday made it clearer than ever, with no reservations, and said at a campaign stop at Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market and also on Israeli radio stations:
I have un-categorically stated that I will not sit in a leftist government, and then I was asked about my personal association with Herzog. I answered, ‘I don’t discard Bujie [Herzog] personally….I have explained clearly that the participation of Shas with the Likud goes back many years.’
That is not entirely true. Shas sat in the Peres-Rabin coalition and voted for the Oslo Accords, and Deri said earlier this week he favors the expulsion of Jews from Jewish communities that are not part of large populating centers in Judea and Samaria.
So with the election results in doubt and polls showing a trend in favor of Herzog and Livni’s Zionist Union party, why is Deri locking himself out of a possible coalition led by Yitzchak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, who have a commanding lead over Netanyahu, according to the polls?
The simple and correct answer is that Deri knows that a Herzog-Livni coalition would be incredibly unstable, unless there is a sudden sweep beyond the leftists’ wildest imagination. On the other hand a government headed by Netanyahu, even with the tiniest majority, would be stable.
In other words, a coalition in the hand is better than a coalition is in the bush.
The arithmetic is very simple, much more so than colleague Shalom Bear stated here yesterday.
Let’s give Bujie the benefit of the doubt and grant him 26 seats in the Knesset. Let’s give Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid 13 and Kulanu, headed by Moshe Kahlon, eight. That comes out to 47, and make it 53 with six seats for Meretz, and that is being generous.
The missing seats won’t come from the Likud or Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home). Nor will they come from Yisrael Beiteinu. They won’t come from the United Arab List because Kahlon has ruled out sitting with a coalition that is kept in office by outright anti-Zionists, although the same objection could be raised concerning a cajole of future MKs on Herzog’s list of candidates.
The only way Herzog and Livni can fill the gap is with the Haredi parties. YaHadut HaTorah (United Torah Judaism) traditionally sits with the right wing. Even if they were to agree to sit with Herzog and Livni, all of the hate in the world for Netanyahu will not convince Lapid and Meretz to sit together with the Haredim. And vice-versa.
The UTJ chairman even refused to show up for a question and answer session on Thursday that would have required him to sit in the same room with Lapid.
Yes, if Shas wins eight seats, it could give Herzog a majority, but Deri knows that a leftist-Haredi coalition is too shaky to last any longer than the time between Mincha afternoon prayers and Maariv evening prayers.
But Deri knows very well that he is the deal-breaker for a coalition led by Netanyahu, even if the Likud wins only 21 seats. Add five from Yisrael Beiteinu, 12 from Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) and eight from Kulanu. The sum total is 46, and these numbers are conservative.
That is where the Haredim will call the shots. Shas and UTJ will come up with at least 15 seats, giving Netanyahu a tiny but stable majority of one. Unlike a leftist coalition with Haredim, all of the parties in the projected Netanyahu government have no problem sitting with each other.
In the past, that would not have been true because Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, was one of the major reasons, the previous coalition broke up, But his party has been whittled down to almost nothing, leaving him little room to let out much more than a weak squeak.
If Yachad wins enough votes to enter the Knesset, and that is a big question mark, the coalition would have a majority of four, after subtracting Baruch Marzel, who has said he won’t sit with Netanyahu.
Deri has done his math, and if the above scenario becomes reality, the irony of ironies is that the anti-Netanyahu media blitz will have resulted with their two most hated voting blocs waving the heaviest hand in the government – settlers and Haredim.
However, there is one big caveat emptor, as a reader responded to this article on Facebook:
LOL. “If Aryeh Deri keeps his word …
Sports-talk radio is replete with predictions ranging from the team which will win the Super Bowl to who will be the new Yankees shortstop. In that tradition, I will now offer my official predictions for what will happen in next week’s Knesset elections. (Please note that if my predictions are completely wrong I will have no problem explaining what happened and why I am still an expert! After all, doesn’t that happen all the time??) OK, here goes:
Likud will win the elections with 26 seats. Current polls show them at 23 but I feel they will do better than that. Yes, many people are tired of Netanyahu as Prime Minister (7 years already, not counting his 3 year run from ’96-’99) but the alternative is weak and unimpressive. His speech before the US Congress sealed his fate as Israel’s next Prime Minister as people realized that – like it or not – this guy is strong, tough, articulate and focused. The thought of that speech being given by Labor leader Boojie Herzog is enough to make you laugh and then sick, and Israelis across the spectrum will decide that Herzog is simply not a viable alternative. Bibi has his issues and people blame every problem on him (which is common in politics) but he is simply the strongest contender and will emerge victorious.
Labor will receive 22 seats which is not as many as they want but is a great improvement over their existing representation of 15 seats. They will receive their increase of seats on the back of Yesh Atid and Meretz who will lose many of their existing Knesset members. As stated above, Labor is not a viable alternative to lead the nation but they provide a comfortable home for the “anti-Bibi” vote. As you know, on Election Day – across the world – many people vote AGAINST someone rather that FOR someone and Labor will receive a lot of these votes. This anti vote helped Obama defeat McCain in 2008 since millions of people voted for Obama as a protest against Bush (who wasn’t even running!!). The voters saw McCain as a continuation of the Bush presidency and voted against him for that reason. This same logic worked against Obama in the recent mid-term elections as people showed their great displeasure in him by voting Republican in both the Congress and Senate. The “anti” vote is a very strong factor in world politics and Labor will receive an enormous amount of those votes. This will increase their current Knesset representation by 50% but will not be enough to topple Netanyahu.
Yesh Atid, led by Yair Lapid, will take a big hit in these elections but will remain a factor in Israeli politics. Currently, Lapid has a whopping 19 seats (from his first election campaign – very impressive!) but he will not be able to hold on to that many. In my opinion, he will drop to 9 seats. His two years as Finance Minister was filled with much controversy and people blame him for many of the economic problems. To be honest, this is of course ridiculous, since he was Finance Minister for less than two years. By the time he learned the job and put together a budget, new elections were declared and he was busy running a campaign to save his political life. Many of his financial ideas were good and innovative but he simply had no time to bring them to fruition. Most people don’t realize this and are simply fed up with him. He still has a following – and 9 seats are strong in Israeli politics – but he will not come close to what he had before.
To date, everyone has talked about a Likud led coalition, a Labor (Zionist Union) led coalition, and a National Unity government.
But there’s another election possibility to consider.
In the outgoing coalition, Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) and Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) proved they could get what they wanted if they stood firm together against Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud); and so, this time around, once the votes are counted, the mid-size parties may quickly realize they can again get what they want, if they again pull the same trick.
What would happen if most of the mid-size parties pulled a “brother,” and created a united front, the United Center, if you will – led by Yair Lapid?
Consider the following configuration:
Yesh Atid (12) + Kulanu (8) + Shas (7) + Yisrael Beytenu (6) = 33
The United-Middle is just 28 seats short of a coalition.
There’s actually no reason to assume that Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Litzman (UTJ) can’t find common ground – after all, while Lapid got to pass his Haredi draft law, in reality the law backfired and fewer Haredim now enter the army – so both sides have won (or lost).
UTJ’s 7 seats would put the United-Center at 40. UTJ also gets the added bonus of hurting Bayit Yehudi, whom they are still angry at from the previous coalition government, when Bennett joined with Lapid, excluding UTJ from the coalition.
The United-Middle then has the choice to invite either the Likud or the Zionist Union to join the coalition as junior partners (assuming Tzipi Livni hadn’t already split off her HaTnua party from the Zionist Union to join the United-Middle on the strength of her own 6 seats).
Yair Lapid has actually hinted that this is what he plans to do.
Lapid made it clear he won’t recommend Netanyahu, but he did not alternatively promise that he would recommend Herzog/Livni. Members of his own party implied that Lapid might recommend Lapid.
To counter this embarrassment of coming in as junior partners, the Likud and Herzog would try to form a National Unity government.
Labor (24) + Likud (21) = 45
Bringing in Bennett (13) gives them 58, and the first 3 from Yachad (excluding Marzel), if not alternatively the 7 from UTJ puts a National Unity government over the top at 61, 64 or 67.
Unfortunately, that configuration has one major flaw. Tzipi Livni.
Livni may decide to bolt to the United-Center rather than sit in a coalition with Bennett, and be in some crazy 3-way rotation with both Herzog and Netanyahu.
In which case, the numbers change to:
Likud (21) + Labor (16) + Bayit Yehudi (13) + UTJ (7) = 57.
Four seats short.
Who would blink first?
Shas (7) would be the weakest link to bribe away from the United-Center, giving a National Unity government 64 seats. Lieberman might also switch sides if he sees things not going his way.
We are entering one of the most critical elections in Israel’s history, and absolutely everything is up for grabs.
It does appear that if the mid-sized parties try to flex too much muscle and get too greedy, we will end up with a National Unity government.
Clearly, as tense and crazy as this pre-election period has been, it won’t compare to what happens after the votes are counted.
At the start of this week I endorsed Bayit Yehudi. I felt from a strategic perspective it made the most sense. We need a strong/influential Rightwing/religious party keeping Netanyahu from drifting too far left – in a Likud led coalition.
But the polls results these past few days fill me with trepidation.
Not only is Likud losing mandates, and not to Bayit Yehudi or Yachad which would at least keep the votes on the right, but as far as I can tell, the seats are shifting to Yesh Atid and due to increased Likud-voter apathy.
Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and Moshe Kachlon (Kulanu) have sensed the winds of change and have made it clear they’ll be supporting Herzog/Livni.
Due to this idiotically raised electoral threshold, these middling parties have become the absolute key to forming any government. From early on, Kachlon managed to position himself to be the lever for whichever coalition would want to come into power.
With Kachlon’s intentions pretty clear, only an election miracle will keep the radical left from back coming to power and returning us to the awful Oslo days.
If that’s the case, I think it will be more important to vote Yachad – for Eli Yishai and Baruch Marzel.
A radical leftwing Livni/Herzog government is going to do very bad things to this country.
They’re going to bring socialism back into our economy – regardless of what Kachlon thinks.
Iran will see this as an opportunity to go full steam ahead.
And the Palestinian Authority will only need to sit back and accept whatever latest gift Livni/Herzog hands over to them that day – as they escalate the violence in return.
“Sacrifices for Peace” is again going to be sick slogan we’ll be inundated with constantly, and the only question is how long will it take before the government starts throwing Jews out of our homes “for Peace”.
If that’s going to be the scenario, then we don’t need a party that will keep Netanyahu from going left, presuming he doesn’t retire. We’ll need an opposition party that will fight tooth and nail to protect us, a party who is going to raise the biggest stink and scream the loudest, because besides that, there won’t be much more that the Right will be able to do from the back benches.
And if that’s the case, we need Baruch Marzel in the Knesset.
Please God, don’t let the Left win – too many friends and acquaintances were murdered by Oslo and the policies of the Left. I do not want us to go through that again.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/muqata/it-might-be-better-to-vote-yachad/2015/03/12/
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