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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘livni’

Jewish Home: Bringing in Livni Makes it Harder for Us to Join the Gov’t

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Senior officials in the Jewish Home responded to Tzipi Livni’s joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s  coalition, saying that it lessens the chances of the Jewish Home joining the government, the Israeli publication Ma’ariv reported today.

The criticism focused on the fact that Livni, who took a turn to the left on foreign policy and territorial issues since her departure from the Likud several years ago, will be allowed to manage the revival of the peace process with the Palestinians.  Shortly after the elections, Livni had made it clear that she would only join a government if she would be given such a position.

Ma’ariv cited senior Likud officials who responded saying that according to the coalition agreement with Livni, the Prime Minister will be the one to lead the negotiating team and that the Likud wants the Jewish Home to join the coalition.

Livni’s party, the “Movement Led by Tzipi Livni” won six seats in the Knesset, while the Likud-Beitenu won 31 seats. By signing a coalition agreement, the prospective coalition now has 37 seats. Sixty-one seats (a majority of the Knesset) are needed to form a coalition, but even more are needed to form a stable coalition.

Bennett’s Unholy Alliance with Lapid

Friday, February 15th, 2013

I’m not going to pretend I was satisfied with the Likud’s election campaign, or even all of Prime Minister’s Netanyahu’s policies/positions over the last four years (e.g., Bar Ilan, the freeze, etc.). But in the past four years, we’ve had, first of all, a government that lasted  just about four years, which is quite an achievement in and of itself in Israel. And we’ve managed to stave off international pressure while getting sanctions in place against Iran. At the same time we’ve had modest domestic achievements, keeping the economy stable despite a global crisis and lowering the monthly cost of living.

Yet, leading up to the elections, I was shocked by how many people were so ready to abandon the Likud and Netanyahu, despite the fact that they knew only he could be Prime Minister and would need a strong showing for the Likud-Beitenu slate in order to have a stable center of gravity for his coalition.

On the day of election, I argued that weakening the Likud-Beitenu, even if by voting for the Jewish Home, to Netanyahu’s right, will actually strengthen whatever left-of-center party will join the government. That’s because even if “the right” has a majority of the Knesset, even 65 seats, a stable government requires more than that. Netanyahu will have no choice, just as he did after the last election, but to bring at least one party from the left in to stablize the coalition. Otherwise any coalition partner could bring down the government.

As the Likud-Beitenu dropped in support, that became more and more true, since the less seats it would have the more vital each coalition partner would be. While that would make Jewish Home more vital to the coalition, it would also have a similar affect on the other parties. The only method Netanyahu has of neutralizing that problem is by bringing in more parties. Practically, the weaker Likud-Beitenu was, the more necessary a left-wing party would become to the coalition. That party was Yesh Atid, which seems to be the most centrist of the sizable left-wing parties.

That prediction, or actually warning, came true with a vengeance. Not only did the Likud lose seven mandates worth of votes to Jewish Home (Jewish Home got 12 and Power to Israel got two, for a total of 14 – seven mandates greater then these two parties represented in the prior Knesset), but Yesh Atid almost doubled in size, going from a predicted 10 to 19 mandates.

So, predictably, Netanyahu’s first post-election call was to Yair Lapid.

At that point Netayahu had two realistic possibilities for a right-of-center coalition: Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Yesh Atid+Shas (with a moderate Haredi-draft plan) for a 72 seat coalition OR  Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Shas-UTJ-Livni-(Kadima) for a 67-69 seat coalition without Lapid (unclear draft plan, but relatively decent foreign policy positions).

(A Likud-Beitenu-Jewish Home-Shas-UTJ coalition would amount to 62 seats, would result in do-nothing government, with a bad budget, and might even fall by the time the next budget came up).

When it became clear that Lapid’s demands were too inflexible, making Shas unwilling to join the coalition, meaning the first option was not going to happen, the second option became more necessary. So Liberman went about trying to make it happen, meeting with the Jewish Home. Talks began with Livni as well. But then Bennett and Lapid formed an alliance:  Bennett would not join the government, unless Lapid also joined.

Practically, that means that Netanyahu can’t form a government without Lapid. It also means that Lapid will be strengthened in his demands, specifically his universal draft plan (which sees lowering the amount of yeshiva-exemptions to a mere 400, lower than it was in the early years of the state) and Shas and UTJ will not sit in the government. Lapid will be doubly strengthened in his demand for a renewed focus on the peace process (he still clings to Golda Meir’s non-sense slogan of, you only make peace with your enemies), because not only does he have more leverage with Netanyahu, but also because Netanyahu will need to bring in more left-wing partners to stabilize the coalition, such as Tzipi Livni who demands that she lead a renewed negotiation effort.

Netanyahu tried to break the alliance by offering Bennett virtually everything he wanted prior to elections – greater say over government guidelines and ministries – in exchange for being the first party to join the coalition. That would have weakened Lapid’s position and forced him to moderate. But Bennett refused.

New Lapid Bennett Axis Enters Coalition Talks Together

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Now it’s getting real, at least according to the newly right-wing daily Maariv: the chairman of Yesh Atid, the leather-jacketed, cool TV journalist and host Yair Lapid, and the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, the knitted yarmulke wearing, hi-tech wizard, NRP resurrecting Naftali Bennett have agreed on coordinating their positions when facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition negotiations team.

Both leaders – the two most distinct winners of the recent election – have been holding their own negotiations, and agreed to present a unified position as their conditions for joining the next government.

Together, their two parties present a formidable block of 31 seats, equal to the Likud-Beitenu yield in the elections. Should they stick by their mutual commitments—which, in itself would be a refreshing Israeli phenomenon—they could easily force Netanyahu’s hand away from a partnership with the two Haredi parties, Shas and Torah Judaism. Those two only have a measly 18 seats to offer the embattled PM.

According to Maariv, which has recently been purchased by Shlomo Ben-Tzvi’s Hirsch Media, owner of the right-wing daily Makor Rishon—and as such is very reliable on issues concerning Bennett and the settlements movement—the two parties agreed that they would either join the coalition together or not at all. (This means that, should both remain outside the government, Lapid would be Opposition leader, to Labor’s Shelly Yachimovich’s chagrin).

Senior Likud officials have confirmed, according to Maariv, that such an agreement really exists, adding that it significantly limits Netanyahu’s room for maneuvering.

Netanyahu’s ideal coalition government would rely on Jewish Home, Shas and Torah Judaism (61 seats) with Kadima’s additional 2 seats and Shaul Mofaz, possibly, as Defense Minister. Indeed, Bibi has no interest in inviting Lapid to a seat of power in his government, which could make him even more popular four years from now.

So that, strangely enough, it is Lapid who depends on Bennett rather than the other way around, to keep his word. But, political nickels and dimes aside, the two men can only help each other by being known to cooperate publicly: two young men, both successful in their own rights, injecting honesty and principles into Israel’s cynical, depressing, old politics. And as such they’re certainly making Bibi look bad.

One man to watch for is Israel Beiteinu’s chairman Avigdor Liberman, who appeared pessimistic on Sunday regarding the possibility of putting together a viable coalition. “It’s very difficult to find a common denominator here,” he said. “The ideological split is sometimes very polar, so the end result is that instead of compromise we get ‘shatnez’ (halachically unlawful hybrid between wool and linen) that doesn’t allow us to move in any direction, and it does not allow us to bring any of the changes that the people are expecting.”

Liberman said that, as far as he’s concerned, the main issue for the next government should be changing the system of government. He said the issue would be determined in the guidelines of the next government, without wasting time on various governance committees. Likud and Israel Beitenu will meet in the coming days to present an offer on this count that would be acceptable to both parties.

According to Liberman’s proposal, the head of the largest party automatically becomes prime minister. Each government will have 18 cabinet ministers and four deputy ministers. The ministers will give up their Knesset membership, to ensure the separation of powers.

The voting threshold should go up three percent, says Liberman. Removing the Prime Minister will require a special majority of 80 Knesset members, and failure to pass a budget will not dissolve the Knesset. Votes of no confidence will require 61 signatures.

All of the above proposals reflect Liberman’s mounting frustration with the workings of government over the past decade or so, as he has experienced it intimately. His notions of a solution are typically direct, if not outright brutal, favoring the larger parties at the expense of the very parties Likud-Beitenu wants to seduce into the next government: Shas and Torah Judaism. It’s no wonder, then, that he is pessimistic about the chances for an effective government.

Indeed, the new pact between the two young mavericks Lapid and Bennett has effectively created two major, right-of-center blocks: Lapid-Bennett Vs. Netanyahu-Liberman, each with exactly 31 seats. Expect Liberman to push for partnership with the other “big party” – even if it requires Netanyahu to overcome his fears of an even stronger Lapid.

The Future Coalition and the Israeli Right

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

So the final results are almost completely tallied and it’s pretty bad for the right-wing, especially Likud-Beitenu, despite the fact that the Benjamin Netanyahu will likely form the next government.

The only threat to Netanyahu forming the government is a joint Shas-Lapid boycott. Likud-Beitenu and Jewish Home comprise 43 seats. Shas and UTJ (17) bring it up to 61 or Lapid (19) will bring it up to 62. Only if Lapid, Shas and UTJ (or even Lapid and Shas) boycott Netanyahu will Netanyahu not be able to form the government. That scenario would also require Livni and Yachimovitch and Lapid to agree on making one of these three their candidate for Prime Minister, which is even more unlikely. Also, Shas publicly endorsed Netanyahu for Prime Minister in an advertisement prior to the elections, apparently counting on the fact that Lapid will compromise on a universal draft.

Nevertheless, for Netanyahu to form a stable coalition (closer to 70 seats) he would need to Shas and/or UTJ compromise with a plan to draft Hareidim, as he said in his “victory” speech last night that he plans to make a priority and because Lapid is now too large to ignore, especially relative to a weak Likud.

Kadima – which escaped what would have been a well-deserved political death – could be another leftist party which Netanyahu could bring on board to strengthen the coalition, especially if Shas will not join.  This would bring the coalition up to 64 seats, that’s still not that stable, but at least Kadima won’t be able to ask for much with it’s meager two seats.

That would mean giving Mofaz something that Mofaz would feel will make him and Kadima relevant until the next elections, perhaps some lessor ministry or as a minister without portfolio. (Mofaz’s other options to survive through the next elections are (a) to somehow re-establish himself outside the government, which is unlikely; (b) to rejoin the Likud with his tail between his legs, which is also unlikely considering how he treated Netanyahu after Netanyahu brought him into the coalition before; (c) merge with another left-wing party which would be equally embarrassing for him and also unprofitable for the other party; or, (d) wait for Olmert to return and save him).

Some other thoughts:

* The success of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid in garnering 19 mandates, making it the second largest of all parties is the biggest surprise of the election. It’s almost twice as high as Lapid polled before the elections and 19 more than Lapid had before as this is his first election. Like Liberman before, Lapid will likely be Netanyahu’s major partner as under almost any coalition figuration Yesh Atid can bring down the coalition.

* The Jewish Home’s success was not as great as predicted but it was still quite an achievement to garner 12 Knesset seats. The joint Jewish Home-National Union list represented only seven seats in the outgoing Knesset and only a few months ago hoped to get up to 10 seats in the next Knesset. Kudos to them for running a great campaign, including Anglo candidate Jeremy Gimpel who chaired the English-speakers campaign and Jeremy Saltan who was the English-speaker’s campaign manager, despite the fact that Gimpel himself will not be in the next Knesset.

* The Likud-Beitenu’s drop from 42 seats in the outgoing Knesset to 31 in the next is the second biggest surprise. Liberman said last night that he does not regret the merger: Of course he doesn’t, his party only dropped to 11 seats in the Knesset, from 15, despite the fact that he has been indicted, based on testimony from one of his former lieutenants and was absent during the campaign.

The Likud on the other hand lost its upward momentum and now comprises only 20 Knesset seats (only one more than newcomer Lapid). That’s quite an embarrassment for the what is supposed to be the leading party in Israel.

Not that Liberman/the merger should take all the blame. The campaign was terrible from almost every angle – functionally and strategically – and Netanyahu’s no-risk political philosophy may also be to blame for failing to motivate new voters, even though it is good for managing a coalition and providing much-needed stability to the country.

* The “Right” as a whole lost out. Instead of 65 seats (or more, even up to 71 according to some polls), it now has 61. And, remember, the right-wing bloc is not necessarily all right-wing. UTJ is only right-wing on religious issues. On Judea and Samaria, standing up to the international community and economic issues, it is to the left. Shas is also to the left on economic issues and with Aryeh Deri back at the helm it is not clearly to the right when it comes to security-territory issues. Even without Deri, Shas was the prop that kept the Olmert government together after the Second Lebanon War. So really the Right has only 43 reliable seats (Likud-Beitenu + Jewish Home).

The Almost Final Results: Even Steven

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

With 99.5% of all votes counted, the final results are in, and it turns out the right and the left are absolutely even. Some changes are still possible after the soldier votes are counted.

5,656,705 people had the right to vote.
3,616,947 (63.31%) voted.
3,579,115 votes were good.
37,832 votes had to be thrown out.

The following parties made it into the Knesset:

Likud-Beitenu – 31 (42)

Yesh Atid (Yair lapid) – 19 (new)

Labor – 15 (13)

Jewish Home – 11 (7)

Shas – 11 (11)

Torah Judaism – 7 (5)

The Movement (Livni) – 6 (new)

Meretz – 6 (3)

Arabs – 12 (11)

Kadima – 2 (28)

Power for Israel did not make it into the Knesset, although it is the nearest a full 2-seats, with 1.68% of the votes. It is followed by Rabbi Amsalem (1.21%).

Right wing block – 60, Left wing with Arabs – 60

 

Some are still predicting that Likud will go up to 33, HaBayiy HaYehudi will go up to 12, Yesh Atid will drop to 18, and the Arab parties will also drop, once the soldier’s votes have been counted.

 

Party : Seats Percent . Votes
Likud-Beytenu : 31 23.25% 832,099
Yesh Atid: : 19 14.19% 507,879
Labor : 15 11.45% 409,685
Shas : 11 8.83% 316,151
HaBayit HaYehudi : 11 8.76% 313,646
UTJ : 7 5.31% 189,931
HaTnua : 6 5.02% 179,818
Meretz : 6 4.59% 164,150
Raam/Taal : 3 3.80% 135,830
Kadima : 2 2.09% 74,735
Hadash : 4 3.12% 111,685
Balad : 5 2.66% 95,312
Otzma L’Yisrael 0 1.73% 61,825

 

For the list of all the individual candidates that made it in, click here.

Poll: Likud Shooting Back Up, Livni Sinking

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

It was bound to happen: Traditional Likud-Beitenu voters have been shopping around for better options, such as Jewish Home, not because they don’t identify with the Likud’s platform, but because they fear that Prime Minister Netanyahu might turn his back on the same platform, as he has been known to do. That mistrust was only enhanced by the fact that Netanyahu’s partner, Avigdor Liberman, is also not particularly committed to the vision of a greater Israel and the rejection of a Palestinian state. (Liberman’s legal woes couldn’t have helped, either).

But in the end, as the threats of a resurgence of the left-wing parties was becoming a reality, and the possibility of a left-led coalition government was being bandied about, many Likud-Beitenu are coming back to the mother ship. Much like American voters being forced to vote for the lesser of evils, rather than for a “shining city on the hill” candidate, the majority of right-wing Israelis will dig up a laundry clip to affix to their noses, and vote Likud-Beitenu.

Or so it turns out from the poll conducted for the news and public affairs radio channel Reshet Bet by Maagar Mochot (The name literally means “a collection of brains” and can be loosely translated as “think tank”), with a sample of 706 likely voters, with a 4.5% margin of error.

This margin of error translates into more than 5 Knesset seats, which could mean that parties that did not cross the two-seat blocking percentage will make it, while others that appear here to have squeezed through will end up outside. So this poll, like every poll, is but a snapshot of voter sentiment today – except that the closer we get to next Tuesday, Election Day, the more these numbers will start getting nailed in place.

So, with all of that in mind, here are the numbers:

Likud-Beitenu – 37

Labor – 16

Jewish Home – 13

Shas – 11

Yair Lapid – 9

Torah Judaism – 6

Meretz – 6

Tzipi Livni – 5

Kadima – 3

Power for Israel – 3

3 Arab lists – 10

Rabbi Amsalem – 1 (fails the blocking percentage)

These numbers confirm that the left wing Jewish parties are on their way out, amounting to a mere 39 seats, or 32.5% of the overall population. The Arabs, with 10 seats, or just over 8% of the population. That makes right wing and Haredi parties a seemingly insurmountable, 71-seat block, accounting for better than 59% of the overall population, and a staggering 65%, give or take, of the Jewish adult population.

It is safe to say that Israel has never been more right wing or more religious in its history, and such percentages would take more than a generation to reverse.

So, Bibi will be the next prime minister, and from these figures he should be able to cobble together a solid right-wing coalition in half and hour, even without having to invite the “bad boys” of Israel’s right wing politics from Power for Israel, Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari.

The only winner from this severe drop in the power of the left is Meretz, which, unlike the rest of the Jewish leftist parties has never denied its leftist identity. And it paid off: as soon as left wing voters realized the right will stay in charge next Tuesday, they abandoned Labor, Livni and Lapid, who have been denying their leftist agenda, describing themselves as “centrist” – in favor of a truly leftist party.

Sadly, his renewed strength (although Likud-Beitenu is still going to receive fewer seats than its current 42) would also enable Bibi to avoid Bennett and Jewish Home, partnering instead with Shas, Torah Judaism and Yair Lapid.

And the fact that Yair Lapid is the Haredi-hater’s Haredi hater should not keep everybody involved from living long and prospering together. Because, in the end, politics is about jobs and money. Ideology is merely the way you get them…

Understanding Israel’s Upcoming Election

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

The Israeli election set for January 22 and the coverage thereof is very strange in several respects. It is a contest in which his opponents seek to beat centrist Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu, of the Likud party, in a remarkably inept manner and in which international understanding of the issues is at the low level we’ve become used to seeing.

Here’s a simple way to understand the situation. The right-wing parties and the left-wing parties are each likely to get roughly the same number of seats that they received in the 1999 election. The difference is that in 1999 the rightist parties divided their vote among three parties and today have largely united into one. The moderate left in 1999 gave their votes mainly to one party and now are dividing it among four.

In addition, viewing the actual electioneering by the left makes one appreciate just how fraudulent political consultants are. They claim that they are going to help the candidate win but have no idea of how to do so. And in Israel they borrow childishly from the latest fads in American politics without regard to the differences. Here are the themes pushed by the moderate left opposition:

–Bibi is for the rich. This slogan is unlikely to work in a country where lower income generally corresponds with more conservative voting. The idea is obviously stolen from Barack Obama’s campaign. But Obama was going for large African-American, Hispanic, and student blocs plus some middle class sectors that could be stirred up over hatred of the rich. This has no relevance for Israel.

–Bibi will get you killed. This theme is accompanied by a picture of a mushroom cloud. But is the idea that he will get you nuked by attacking Iran or by not attacking Iran? It isn’t clear. And since Netanyahu has the best claim to preserve the country’s security that approach is likely to be counterproductive.

–Bibi doesn’t want your vote. This is the newest poster to appear though it isn’t clear who’s promoting it. That makes no sense at all.

–The choice of photographs. Former Prime Minister Tsipi Livni, the candidate of her own party—and one of the quartet seeking moderate/moderate left voters—has a photograph on her poster that looks as if it were selected by her worst enemy. In it she appears ugly, angry, and confused.

–Livni’s ad has several shots of Obama and one of her standing with new Secretary of State John Kerry. They seem to argue that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas really wants peace but Netanyahu blocked it. Perhaps this ad was designed by left-liberal American Jewish political consultants. It won’t go over well in Israel.

Shaul Mofaz, candidate of Kadima, Livni’s former party that is expected to collapse completely in the election, has a terrible photograph of himself with former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. That relates to Kadima’s founder but is unlikely to win any votes. Rather than projecting leadership, the other left-of-center party leaders seem to be seeking anonymity.

What’s astonishing is the obtuseness of the opposition, especially Labor. Netanyahu is going to win but the way to get the largest vote, becoming the official opposition and possibly his coalition partner, is to run on an energetic program of domestic improvements. The obvious opposition approach should be that it is the time to improve schools, the infrastructure, and reduce housing and food prices.

People are waiting to be told that their living standards can be improved without threatening their security. A winning theme would be to say Netanyahu has neglected these domestic issues. True, the economy has done very well but the price of relatively high employment, rapid growth, and low inflation has been high prices.

For breakfast just now I paid $3 for a croissant and $3 for a coffee in a country where income levels average half those in the United States. Young people can’t afford an apartment in a country where rentals are relatively rare and there is not a strong mortgage system or tax deductions for paying one.

That’s why there were social protests in 2011. While going into big debt and increasing subsidies—the trap into which most Western economies have fallen—would be a mistake there are certainly good shifts to be made. Instead, voters are being treated like idiots who will be won over by some silly slogan convincing them that either the prime minister is evil or will get them incinerated. That won’t win an election.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/understanding-israels-upcoming-election/2013/01/15/

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