The municipal elections in Israel yesterday brought no major surprises. In the most interesting political fight this year, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat beat Atty. Moshe Lion, whose candidacy was backed by Shas's Aryeh Deri and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. The defeat has implications for the political futures of both politicians: Deri is weaker without the support of the late Rabbi Ovadiah Yossef and a split in Shas seems more probable than ever. Lieberman's fortune has been in decline for a long time. His fate will be determined when the verdict in his trail is handed down, but even if…Read More...
Over 5 million Israelis have the right to vote in the municipal elections today. National politics are not as directly reflected in municipal polls as they were in the past - when Likud and Labor used those as platform for securing their parties' political machines (plus, there just isn't much of a competition in the big cities) - but you can always learn about some of the deeper trends from them. Here are a few things to watch: 1. Jerusalem: Major Nir Barkat is favorite against Moshe Leon. Leon's candidacy is backed by a political deal between Shas' Aryeh Deri…Read More... | 6 Comments
Meretz MK announces plans to challenge Tel Aviv-Jaffa's 15-year mayor. Though he faces difficult odds, Horowitz has a legitimate chance to become the first openly gay mayor of any Israeli city. Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) on Monday announced his intention to run in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal elections, due to take place on October 22. Horowitz, a second-term MK and former journalist for Channel 10 News, will be challenging former Labor member Ron Huldai, who has served as Tel Aviv's mayor since 1998. If he wins, Horowitz (49) would be Tel Aviv's first openly gay mayor, and the first…Read More... | 4 Comments
Israel's opposition leader and the head of Labor party claimed this weekend that ignoring the Palestinian diplomatic issue in her election campaign cost her party four Knesset seats. Yachimovich ran her campaign mostly on economical issues, in hopes of capitalizing on the social protests. She ended up with a disappointing 15 seats - a couple more than Ehud Barak got as the head of Labor but still fewer than what polls gave her. Maariv obtained a recording of a meeting between Yachimovich and some of her supporters, in which she said: It turns out that what Yair Lapid was able to do - not to…Read More... | 12 Comments
The new Netanyahu coalition will give settlers and their supporters more executive power than any previous government in Israel has until now. With the Housing and Industry ministries in their hand, and political ally Moshe Ya’alon as the new defense minister, the settlers are very pleased by the new Netanyahu government. Head of the Samaria region (the northern West Bank) Gershon Mesika told the Ynet news site: "On the face of it, it does look like a wet dream – Ya'alon on defense and Ariel on housing is something which carries great potential, but in these things you can't foretell what will happen."…Read More... | 3 Comments
The answer is not in the government - which would deepen inequality and won't be willing or able to end the occupation - but in the unusual alliances that could be formed in the opposition. Benjamin Netanyahu has until the end of next week to introduce his new government. All indications show that it will likely include Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party (19 seats), Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home (the settler's party, with 12 seats), Kadima (2) and perhaps Tzipi Livni (6). Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu is already part of the Likud, so it will also be in the coalition, which…Read More... | 23 Comments
What will the third Netanyahu government look like, and how will it deal with the Palestinian issue?
Netanyahu would like to include some centrist elements in his government in order to present a more moderate face to the world. However, any meaningful effort to end the occupation is not very likely. The Israeli post-election routine is under way, and tomorrow (Saturday) night, President Shimon Peres will officially ask Benjamin Netanyahu to try and form a new government. Netanyahu will have 28 days for his coalitions talks (which are already underway), and he may ask for an extension of 14 days. While I do not have high hopes from the new government regarding the Palestinian issue, it is enough…Read More... | 9 Comments
On the Palestinian issue, the new leader of the Israeli center holds positions that take several steps back from ideas held by Israeli negotiators in the previous decade. The surprising success of Yair Lapid in the Israeli elections has led many people to believe that a new window of opportunity could be open for a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. Lapid himself had said before the elections that he will demand a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Lapid did not, however, detail the policy principles which could reignite said negotiations. His party's platform – available…Read More... | 93 Comments
Palestinians mourn youth killed by Israeli forces, activists resist house demolitions in the West Bank and separation wall construction in Jerusalem, and life goes on in Gaza. Activestills photographers present the stories of the week from their unique perspective.Read More... | 11 Comments
By Neve Gordon This is the way the results (*) of the elections are being presented in the Israeli press: Centre Left Bloc Right Bloc Other, perhaps more accurate ways to present the election results: Left Bloc Right Bloc Non-Jews Jews Women Men Willing to take the necessary steps for a…Read More... | 10 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
With almost all the votes counted, it is clear that support for the prime minister's party has collapsed, journalist Yair Lapid has led his new centrist party to second place and Meretz has doubled its strength. With roughly 98 percent of the votes cast in the Israel's elections counted, Netanyahu’s Right-Orthodox bloc appears to have captured 61 seats out of the Knesset’s 120 (as opposed to 65 in the current Knesset). The prime minister's joint ticket with Avigdor Lieberman’s faction – called Likud-Beitenu – has 31 seats, as opposed to the 42 the two parties together hold in the current…Read More... | 16 Comments
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