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December 1, 2015 / 19 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘vote’

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.

Promise of Murderers Release Secures Monday ‘Peace Talks’ in DC

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Talks between Palestinians and Israelis will resume on Monday evening, the first such formal deliberations in almost three years.

Meetings between top negotiators will take place Monday night and Tuesday in Washington, the U.S. State Department said in a statement. Secretary of State John Kerry has been pressing the sides for a resumption and has visited the region six times since assuming his post in February.

The Israeli side will be represented by Tsipi Livni, the justice minister, and Yitzhak Molcho, the national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Saeb Erekat, the top Palestinian negotiator, and Mohammed Shtayyeh, who directs the Palestinian Economic Council and who has ministerial status, will represent the Palestinian Authority.

The State Department release said that the talks would at first focus on the procedure for the talks, but added that the basis for negotiations is in place.

“As Secretary Kerry announced on July 19 in Amman, Jordan, the Israelis and Palestinians had reached agreement on the basis for resuming direct final status negotiations,” it said. It did not elaborate what the basis is.

“The meetings in Washington will mark the beginning of these talks,” it said. “They will serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural workplan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months.”

“Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point. We are grateful for their leadership,” Kerry added in the statement.

The announcement came after Israel promised to release 104 Palestinian prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet met Sunday to debate the prisoner release and to approve the resumption of talks. The 22-member cabinet approved the release by a vote of 13 in favor, seven against and two abstentions.

Likud MK and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon urged ministers to vote against the release, branding it “a diplomatic mistake, a moral mistake.”

It is still not clear whether the released prisoners will include 14 Israeli Arabs—which the PA made clear would be a deal breaker. Sources in Jerusalem told Kol Israel there has been no Israeli commitment on that issue.

Among the Israeli Arab prisoners whose release the PA is demanding are the four Arabs who killed three Israeli soldiers with pitchforks on the infamous “Pitchforks Night” in the early ’90s, the terrorist who threw a firebomb into the car belonging to the Moses family, murdering the mother Ofra and her son Tal, and the terrorist who threw a firebomb at a bus, murdering Rachel Weiss, mother of three children, and soldier David Delaroza, in the 1980s.

There were conflicting reports in recent days over whether the sides had achieved a basis for the talks, or whether negotiators would convene only to prepare the basis for talks.

Israeli and Palestinian talks have been suspended since October 2010, when the Palestinians walked out over Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month settlement construction freeze.
JTA content was used in this report.

Cabinet Approves Referendum Bill

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

The Israeli cabinet approved a bill that would require a referendum on any deal with the Palestinian Authority that would involve relinquishing sovereign Israeli land. The bill does not include Judea or Samaria, which have not yet been annexed, unlike the Golan and parts of Jerusalem after it was liberated.

The bill will now go to the Knesset for a vote.

The vote on releasing Arab terrorists was postponed, after Netanyahu saw that he didn’t have the support to pass it at this point.

Netanyahu Starts Stacking the Deck

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

PM Netanyahu appointed Minister of Science and Technology Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) to the inner cabinet committee involved in the freeing of Palestinian Authority terrorists, in order to ensure he will have a majority if any questions or problems arise in the committee regarding freeing these terrorists, according to a report in Times of Israel.

One is immediately reminded of how Rabin and Sharon took similar actions to stack the deck, to push through legislation and decisions that didn’t have a majority.

Besides Netanyahu, also in this committee are Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch. Netanyahu is concerned that Ya’alon and Aharonovitch might block parts of the deal.

Last week, Yesh Atid leader Finance Minister Yair Lapid had PM Netanyahu kick out Minister Yuval Steinitz from an inner cabinet meeting he was invited too, when Steinitz began to raise security related issues.

Jewish Home to Support Rav Stav for Chief Rabbi

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

The Jewish Home (HaBayit HaYehudi) party will be meeting Sunday afternoon to officially (and finally) announce their support for Rav Stav as Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi.

The decision was made after it became clear that the law that would allow Rav Ariel to run, was not going to pass. Rav Ariel is the preferred choice for some of the the Rabbis associated with the party.

The party will also announce its support for the Stern Law, which would expand the number of people involved in the election process, according to a report in Arutz-7.

Last week Jewish Home did not support the bill, and in response, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni blocked two Jewish Home bills.

At the meeting, the party will discuss renewing the term of Rav Amar, who has proved to be a very capable and effective Chief Rabbi.

There has been a lot of criticism and  pressure on the Jewish Home party as of late, for what many are calling a lack of leadership, lack of party discipline in voting, as well as the outsourcing of decisions to Rabbis from one of the sub-factions within the party.

No More Likud Primaries

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

PM Netanyahu said on Tuesday night, that he plans on canceling the primary system in the Likud, according to Channel 1.

Instead of Likud party members voting for which candidates they want to run for Knesset, it appears that Netanyahu wants to personally select and place each candidate.

Netanyahu’s message is that the party  list is what caused the Likud’s poor showing in the election, as opposed to his attacking his natural allies on the religious and the right, while not going after Yair Lapid at all, as well as the poorly organized and unfocused campaign that Netanyahu ran.

Israelis Are Picking the 19th Knesset (Video)

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Good morning and welcome to our obligatory election day morning piece, which could have been written last September for all the news you’ll find in it. But it must be written, because you just can’t start Election Day without a bunch of trite cliches about democracy, the voter, decisions, etc. – it’s the law.

The vote for the 19th Knesset began at 7:00 AM, as more than 5.6 million Israelis who are entitled to vote are expected to exercise their right, in 10,100 ballots around the country.

By the way, did you know that in Australia they get as many as 97% of the eligible voters to actually vote? You know why? Because it’s the law over there, and you get punished if you don’t. I suppose they have vast jails for the 3 percent that don’t vote. Every day they take those prisoners out to a big ballot box at the center of the prison yard and they’re made to fulfill their civil duty – and then they’re made to push the ballot box up a hill only to watch it roll downhill. But I’m digressing.

In Israel they have a cute commercial where a cop revokes your whining license for 4 years if you fail to vote. Take a look, it’s in Hebrew, but totally self explanatory:

OK, back to the obligatory stuff: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife, Supervising Prime Minister Sara Netanyahu, and their two sons showed up early at their local poll in the affluent neighborhood of Rehavia, Jerusalem.

My friend M. who lives right next door to the Netanyahus, passes by their house a lot, and whenever the security gorillas order her to stop to let the PM’s limo pull in or out of the driveway, she tells them: I am a citizen, he is my servant, I go first.

The Netanyahus’ sons, Yair and Avner, voted today for the first time. What I wouldn’t give to see who they voted for. My bet is on uncle Naftali (Bennett).

In the small communities, the polls will close at 8 PM. In larger enclaves the polls will close at 10 PM. Then we here at the Jewish Press will be playing our magic fingers furiously but with grace and insight, to let you know in real time what they’re saying on television. We’ll make you feel right at home, it’s what we do.

More than 20,000 police officers, Border Police and volunteers have been deployed throughout the country to keep order.

It’s a national holiday here, folks. In shul this morning we even had a short argument over whether or not to say Tachnun (supplications), because it’s a state holiday and we’re radical religious Zionists. We ended up saying it. I’ll bet you it would have been different if election day fell on a Monday or a Thursday (longer supplication text).

Transportation services will operate normally, as will other essential services. At Ben Gurion Airport they’re expecting 21 000 passengers. MDA is on high alert. Don’t ask me why, I’m not writing this stuff, I’m just translating official press releases.

The counting of votes will begin immediately after the polls close. Poll committees, made up of representatives of all the lists, will count the votes and then deliver the sealed ballot boxes and all voting materials to regional committees, which in turn will transmit reports to the Central Election Committee in Jerusalem.

Committee Executive Director Orly Aades, estimates that we’ll start seeing the true results by about midnight. This is because the committee is using new technology which is “expected to catalyze the counting of the double envelopes” (those are Israel’s absentee ballots). Final results of the elections are expected towards Thursday morning.

Did you know in Israel prisoners are allowed to vote? I’m surprised there isn’t a party catering specifically to the gripes of prisoners – some 10,800 of them will be voting today, in 57 polls, 31 of which are mobile (are you thinking what I’m thinking – the great election day prison break caper?).

That’s it. Now the Yanovers are setting out to go and vote at the local middle school. It’s our first election since we got here and we’re terribly excited.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/special-features/israel-elections-5773/israelis-are-picking-the-19th-knesset-video/2013/01/22/

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