The ultra-Orthodox party, which has drifted far to the right over the past several years, reaches out to the all the Israelis who are not middle-class - which is to say, the majority. Shas, the party founded by the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and today led by Rabbi Aryeh Deri, is usually seen as the narrowly-sectorial party of the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox. Even the kingmaker status it had enjoyed for nearly two decades is usually (and rather haughtily) ascribed by commentators to their ability to march a docile and obedient religious minority to the polling stations, rather than to broad popular…Read More... | 7 Comments
Netanyahu has more paths to the Prime Minister's Office than Herzog, but also more party leaders who oppose him personally. Seventy-one days ahead of Israel’s general elections, two major stories are dominating the political news cycle: the showdown between Shas’s former leaders – Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai – and the corruption affair involving senior politicians from Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu party. Both Shas and Liberman lost some ground in last week’s polls, while Yishai’s newly formed party is coming close to passing the Knesset threashold, currently at 4 seats (3.25 percent of the votes). Netanyahu’s Likud party held its…Read More... | 17 Comments
I’m planning to vote for Meretz, but if Kahlon has a chance on election day of beating Netanyahu, I’ll vote for him. I was talking a couple of days ago about the upcoming elections with a friend from work, a middle-class, American-born Ashkenazi immigrant with a Ph. D. in political science. He told me he was voting for the left-wing, largely Arab Hadash party. I asked who he would vote for if, on election day, which is tentatively set for March 17, the “wild card” in the race, ex-Likudnik Moshe Kahlon, had a chance to become the next prime minister.…Read More... | 37 Comments
The former Shas chairman was one of the most vocal opponents of African refugees in Israel. But after Yishai was replaced, the party's attitudes may have changed. +972 speaks to Shas MK Yitzhak Vaknin. By Aaron Magid Just over a year ago, then Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared that until he could deport African asylum seekers, he would “lock them up to make their lives miserable.” In a different interview he claimed that most of the Africans in Israel are Muslims, exclaiming, “[they] think that the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.” But a year…Read More...
The first reaction of the Israeli Right to the possible revival of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations has been to rush legislation ensuring a referendum on a future agreement. The idea is to supplement Israel’s 2010 law with provisions that tailor it to apply to any kind of agreement (the existing law passed in 2010 is somewhat more limited), and to make it harder to overturn such a law. A recent poll I conducted for Open Zion at The Daily Beast among Jewish Israelis showed that a clear majority of respondents – 53 percent to 34 percent – prefer to hold a…Read More... | 17 Comments
From up close, a wall can seem smooth, unbreakable and infinite – it is the only thing in sight. The wall, a wall of despair or a wall of separation, is real. But by taking a few steps back, either physically or spiritually, cracks in the wall can come into sight. By Moriel Rothman I’ve been in the U.S. for almost two weeks now, and I’ve begun to see cracks in the "Despair-Wall" that I wasn’t seeing – or wasn’t able to see – 14 days ago. When I boarded the plane departing from Ben Gurion International Airport, it was with feelings of darkness, of…Read More... | 4 Comments
After signing Tzipi Livni onto his coalition, Netanyahu doesn't need Yair Lapid anymore - he can have the haredim and Naftali Bennett while pacifying Obama. Give the devil his due: Bibi pulled off a masterstroke yesterday by signing Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah party to his coalition. Now he's got clear sailing to his ideal government - one made up of the right wing and ultra-Orthodox, his base, but one that also keeps Obama and the Europeans off his back by giving the appearance - completely hollow - that he intends to try to move toward peace with the Palestinians. That's…Read More... | 21 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
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
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
With national elections less than two weeks away, political campaign videos are much in the news. A few days ago Noam Sheizaf wrote about the Balad party video that was banned, allegedly for mocking Hatikvah, the national anthem. Now Shas, the Mizrachi ultra-Orthodox party that is predominantly Moroccan, is getting some heat for a campaign video that some have decried as racist. In an image that Mordecai Richler and Philip Roth would recognize, the video shows a short, swarthy, curly-haired man standing next to a gorgeous, statuesque blonde under the huppah, or marriage canopy. Behind them stands a stern-looking security…Read More... | 13 Comments
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The latest news and analysis on the election campaign.
The Beaten Path
Travel writer and tour guide Yuval Ben-Ami deconstructs the Holy Land's tourist trail.
On the challenges facing a growing population of asylum seekers and refugees in Israel.
Children under occupation
The effects of occupation on minors.
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