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... | 3 Comments
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
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
The court unanimously decided to reverse the Central Election Committee's decision forbidding MK Zoabi (Balad) from running. In response, a Likud spokesperson vowed that the PM's party would work to amend the law in order to ensure such disqualifications before the next elections. The Israeli Supreme Court decided this morning (Sunday) to reverse the Central Election Committee's decision to prevent MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) from participating in the coming Knesset elections, due to take place on January 22. The decision was unanimous, with all nine judges – including Supreme Court Chief Justice Asher Gronis – ruling to allow Zoabi to run. MK Zoabi, the only…Read More... | 8 Comments
An automatic appeal before the Supreme Court will be heard next week. Zoabi's party, Balad, has already announced it will withdraw from the elections if the decision is not reversed. Israel's Central Election Committee (CEC) voted today (Wednesday) to disqualify Palestinian Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi from participating in the coming elections. MK Zoabi is the number two candidate on Balad's Knesset list. The decision is automatically transferred to the Supreme Court, which will hear the appeal next week. Earlier today, Balad announced that if the Supreme Court doesn't allow Zoabi to run, the entire party will withdraw from the elections. The decision…Read More... | 34 Comments
Who are the leading Arab candidates in the upcoming Knesset elections? Who is trying to ban them from running, and how? How did such attempts end in previous elections? How many Palestinian citizens can vote in the Knesset elections, and how many are expected to vote? A Q&A by the human rights organization Adalah answers those questions, and more. By Adalah [At the bottom of the document you will find the viewing option bar, which will allow you to zoom in or out. If you still have troubles reading or in case you don't see the embedded document at all,…Read More... | 6 Comments
A Channel 2 interview with Arab MK Hanin Zoabi is making waves - and it might cost her, again Hanin Zoabi, the Arab MK of the Balad party, can’t seem to get out of the news. Obviously, this is what she’s aiming for. Every politician loves to see their name in the media. Just today, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he found “nothing wrong with the Knesset's decision to revoke some of MK Hanin Zoabi's privileges” due to her participation in the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza. She also managed to anger Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who watched her interview…Read More... | 57 Comments
Some more thoughts of the "death of democracy" scenario that might take place in the next elections Susan Hattis Rolef has a piece in the Jerusalem Post dealing with the same issue I wrote about yesterday: the expected ban on MK Hanin Zoabi – and perhaps Balad and Raam-Taal parties as well - from participating in the next elections. Hattis-Rolef seems to agree with me that this is a likely scenario, at least in the case of a personal disqualification of MK Zoabi. There is no doubt that as elections for the 19th Knesset approach, right-wing parties will renew efforts…Read More... | 6 Comments
A not-so-crazy speculation for the new year: A date for new elections will be set; at least one major Arab party won't be allowed to participate in them, resulting in a call for boycott in the Palestinian public and the Jewish left. With the Arabs out of the Knesset, the right will enjoy a much bigger majority, forever. Game, set, match If you leave out the West Bank, Israel is still a functioning democracy. New bills are threatening freedom of speech, minorities' rights are not defended and specific laws targeting non-Jews effectively make them second class-citizens. But still, the core…Read More... | 54 Comments
It's easy to forget Gaza. The strip is sealed from all directions, and only few can enter or leave it. Since the raid on the flotilla, more food is allowed in—at least that’s what Israel claims—but for all other purposes, the closure persists. There are no reports in the mainstream media on life in Gaza. Very few journalists travel there. The only exceptions occur during military escalations, or when an event like the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni takes place. When you only hear of people in the context of war and murder, it's very hard to think of them as…Read More... | 20 Comments
By MK Haneen Zoabi* The persecution of “Jewish Left extremists" creates a different dynamic than the persecution of Arab citizens. Political persecution is now extending to all layers of Jewish society, permeating into areas that not even the General Security Service1, and the powers to be, have ever considered. Editor's note: This opinion piece was published originally by Ynet in Hebrew. It was translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service in Melbourne, Australia. A "good Arab" is the term that has always been used as the benchmark criterion for setting the state's attitude toward its Arab citizens.…Read More...
I have a new piece in Foreign Policy, discussing the relations between Jewish and Arab MKs and their perspective on the one state solution. Interviewed are Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Deputy-Speaker Ahmed Tibi (Raam-Taal), and MK Hanin Zoabi (of Balad and of the Gaza flotilla fame). Naturally, I don't think they're all talking about the same "one state" solution; but if we get to a situation where the main argument is about which kind of a one state is most desirable, this will be after tremendous shift in Israeli and regional politics. For now, the fact they are talking…Read More... | 1 Comment
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