The new legislation will benefit medium-sized parties like the settlers’ Jewish Home and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, while increasing the influence of big money on politics. The Knesset approved today (Tuesday) several changes in its elections and governance laws. Among other things, the changes will make it more difficult to challenge the government in a vote of non-confidence, and set the threshold for entering the Knesset at 3.25 percent, or roughly four Knesset seats. The legislation is a joint initiative by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu (which united with Netanyahu’s Likud party prior to the…Read More... | 28 Comments
The foreign minister’s provocations may be damaging, but they create a clear and present danger when tied to actual policies. Avigdor Liberman has come roaring back again. When the Israeli foreign minister returned to his post following a lengthy corruption investigation that ended in anti-climax of acquittal, some thought he had been chastened by time or political pragmatism and softened his firebrand style. As if to cast aside those doubts, Liberman has given a stellar performance this week (and it's only Thursday). He insisted that his party will oppose any Israeli-Palestinian agreement that does not include territorial and population swaps,…Read More... | 66 Comments
By refusing to drastically amend its settlement guidelines, EU reopens debate on occupation within Israeli elites
The EU's new settlement guidelines, which were published last summer, put limits on loans to Israeli businesses operating beyond the Green Line and forbid EU financing of projects in settlements. Right-wing ministers are demanding that Israel reject the new terms, while centrists would like to avoid international isolation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held two long cabinet meetings with senior ministers on Sunday regarding the difficulty in reaching an agreement with the EU over its new 'settlement guidelines' for joint projects with Israel, Israeli media reported. Netanyahu instructed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to try and reach a deal that would end the impasse…Read More... | 16 Comments
If a militant nationalist wants to get elected prime minister of Israel, he has to repeat the word 'peace' over and over. Unlike a lot of other leftists in despair over Liberman's acquittal on Wednesday, I don't think it's a foregone conclusion he's going to succeed Netanyahu as prime minister. I agree that he may do it, it's definitely a possibility, but first he has a problem to overcome: as a candidate, he's scary to a lot of Israelis, maybe most Israelis, especially women. On the "Eretz Nehederet" ("Wonderful Country") TV news satire, he's portrayed as a KGB liquidator.…Read More... | 4 Comments
The man who has become the symbol of ultra-nationalist trends and anti-democratic legislation is cleared of corruption charges, allowing his return to helm of the Foreign Ministry, which Netanyahu has been holding for him. Former – and most likely soon-to-be-reinstated – foreign minister Avigdor Liberman was acquitted of all charges stemming from a years-long corruption investigation on Wednesday. The move paves the way for his return to the helm of the Foreign Ministry, from which he resigned when he was indicted last December. Less than an hour after the acquittal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who merged political party lists with…Read More... | 3 Comments
After a stormy night session, the coalition was able to pass the necessary amendments and election laws that would make it more difficult to topple a government and eliminate small factions. Left-wing and Palestinian members of Knesset protested the legislation in 'silent speeches.' Ultra-Orthodox MK Eichler spoke to the Arab public in Arabic, saying 'we are with you.' (video below) During the last session of the Knesset before its summer recess, the coalition was able to pass a first reading of the “governance legislation,” - an amendment to Israel's Basic Laws - which would make it more difficult for the…Read More... | 33 Comments
Oh, and the settlements are in very, very good hands. One of Israel’s leading sociologists, the late Baruch Kimmerling, is responsible for coining the term “Ahusalim (אחוס”לים),” to describe those who ruled Israel for decades. It is an acronym in Hebrew for “Ashkenazi, secular, old guard, socialists, and nationalists.” ASOSNs, for us English speakers. I guess Kimmerling was trying to find something similar to WASP, and although he came up with a term that became widely used, let’s face it - phonetically it’s a flop. As I write these lines, the coalition agreements between the Likud, Jewish Home and Yesh…Read More... | 16 Comments
Over the violent protests of its fascist fan club, Beitar Jerusalem makes good on its promise to bring two Muslim players onto team. A small victory over racism, but a victory nonetheless. Even if it's a drop in the ocean, it's a pretty big drop: the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, symbol of Israeli racism at its rawest, has been integrated with Muslim players - and it was done, in a manner of speaking, over the dead bodies of the team's fascist youth movement, La Famiglia. The turning point came in the middle of the night last Thursday when arsonists torched…Read More... | 8 Comments
There's no doubt about it - Yair Lapid is the star of these election results. His 19 mandates will most certainly give him and his party a senior position in the next government, likely to be led by Benjamin Netanyahu. But before you go reporting about the upcoming Bibi-Lapid coalition, here are a few post-election and pre-government thoughts. 1) Those crazy coalition talks Just as Lapid’s unexpected surge happened in the last week before the vote (most polls gave him around 11-12 a few weeks before), the coalition talks can also take some twisty curves. Just today, the two arch-rivals,…Read More... | 6 Comments
The counting of the votes has ended, and we now have the official results for the 2013 Knesset elections. In the last 24 hours Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party has won one more seat at the expense of the United Arab List. The rest of the map is unchanged. Here are the full results: Likud Beitenu 31; Jewish Home 12, Shas 11; United Torah Judaism 7; Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) 19, Kadima 2, Hatnuah (Livni) 6; Labor 15; Meretz 6. Hadash 4; United Arab List 4; Balad 3 Notable changes from the previous elections: Jewish Home, associated with the settlers,…Read More... | 6 Comments
Netanyahu is most likely to form his next government around the religious and the secular middle class, represented by election victors Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid. The coalition will concentrate on domestic reform and will only strengthen the status quo on the Palestinian issue. Also: Did Israelis really move left? Seven takeaways from the elections. 1. The future government At the time of writing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s base of Orthodox and right-wing parties has 60 Knesset seats – the same as the potential opposition. Estimates are that the Jewish Home party will finish with another seat at the expense…Read More... | 22 Comments
The last polls ahead of Tuesday’s election have been published. Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu joint ticket could lose as many as eight seats, but the right-wing coalition he is projected to lead is still strong. Meretz is trending up, while Livni is losing support. We have updated out Poll Tracker with the surveys published over the weekend. Election laws forbid publishing polls in the days immediately prior to the vote, so this is likely the last round of numbers we will see from the various polling firms, at least publicly (the parties continue to conduct internal polls sometimes). This pie represents the…Read More... | 5 Comments
Compulsory military service for yeshiva students is a popular issue for secular politicians. But Shas and other Orthodox parties will continue to get their way on this issue, partly because of Israel's fragmented electoral system, but also largely because Zionism depends on the haredim for its raison d'être. By Steven A. Cook Washington -- Last week the Israeli media reported that Shas spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, suffered a minor stroke. Although his doctors were mum on what might have caused the episode, sources close to Yosef indicated that a contributing factor was the rabbi’s fear of a renewed push among…Read More... | 27 Comments
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A look into the daily life of African refugees living in an 'open' detention center.
Kerry's peace process
Full coverage, commentary and analysis of the latest round of peace talks.
Plan to displace Bedouin
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