Israeli elections always feature a lot of political drama. But when the Knesset was dissolved on December 24, it set off a flurry of action that was furious even by Israeli standards. The drama is likely to increase between now and election day on April 9 even though the winner is almost certainly a foregone conclusion.
Soon after the new elections were announced, political bombshells went off in parties on the right and in the center. It started with Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked bolting their party, HaBayit HaYehudi (The Jewish Home). Soon after, the head of the Labor party, Avi Gabbay, publicly humiliated former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, thereby eliminating the Zionist Union coalition his party had formed with Livni’s Hatnuah party.
From the point of view of all Israeli politicians—except Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—this election is really about positioning for the next one. Netanyahu is going to win, but it’s very likely to be his final term as prime minister. A fight is now taking place over the succession, amid the ongoing collapse of the center and center-left of Israeli politics. Read more at LobeLog
It seems the long reign of Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to its end. Nothing is certain yet, and there will doubtless be more scenes in this tragedy before the curtain falls. But the prospects of Netanyahu continuing as Israel’s prime minister are growing dim.
More than a few are understandably celebrating the light at the end of the tunnel of Netanyahu’s tenure. And, unlike some, I would contend that Israelis have reason for optimism. But for those of us outside of Israel who support the rights of Palestinians as well as Israelis and wish for all of those in the troubled region to enjoy equal rights, the fall of Netanyahu comes too late to make much difference.
In fact, it might set us back in some ways. Read more at LobeLog
With all eyes on the framework agreement for a nuclear deal with Iran, and on the looming Capitol Hill battle to defend it, it is easy to forget that Israel is still in the process of forming its new government. With much of the drama playing out offstage, many observers are sitting back and waiting for the political wrangling over ministries and Knesset committee chairs to be over.
But some are making the case that there is more brewing than the doling out of prestige appointments to the leaders of the parties expected to be part of the fourth Benjamin Netanyahu government. A unity government, at one time thoroughly rejected by both Netanyahu and Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, has emerged again as at least a theoretical possibility. Read more at the FMEP blog.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won his fourth election last night in surprising fashion. He outdistanced the polls, including the exit polls in the waning hours of voting and won a decisive victory over the Zionist Union and Isaac Herzog. Here are some quick and initial takeaways from the results.
A huge victory for the Right
Even though the right wing/religious bloc in the Knesset didn’t grow, the right gained considerable power relative to
the last Knesset. The last government included two centrist parties, Yesh Atid, and Hatnuah. Yesh Atid actually was the biggest single party in it, with Likud having joined with Avigdor Lieberman’s party to gain a decisive lead in the 2013 elections. Hatnuah, though small, was very important to the coalition, as its head, Tzipi Livni was the fig leaf over the right wing that negotiated with the Palestinians.
This coalition is going to have a very different character. It is quite possible that Netanyahu will get the fully right-wing coalition he wants. It is very possible that the most moderate party in it will be Moshe Kahlon’s center-right Kulanu party. Kahlon is at best lukewarm on the two-state solution, although he has been critical of Netanyahu’s refusal to maintain negotiations. He probably described his view best when he said he supported Netanyahu’s 2009 Bar-Ilan speech. That’s the one Bibi just repudiated in the last days of the campaign. Read more at the FMEP blog.
Many people in the United States are keeping a close eye on the Israeli elections, due to take place on March 17. The latest, and last, poll by the Knesset Channel in Israel came out yesterday, and it may open a lot of eyes.
The poll shows the Zionist Camp coalition—Isaac Herzog’s Labor Party and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah— garnering 24 seats, while Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party come in second at 21. The report inHa’aretz analyzes those numbers even further to show that 56 elected Knesset members would likely recommend Herzog to form the next government, while Netanyahu would have the backing of 55. Read more at LobeLog
For those of you who don’t follow my social media postings, I was on the KPFA Sunday Show this past Sunday, along with Joel Beinin, discussing the Bibi-Boehner Brouhaha, the Israeli elections and the Iran nuclear talks. If you’d like to check it out, you can listen to the whole show at KPFA’s website (where you can also donate to one of the few remaining progressive radio stations that actually earns the name) at this link.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, U.S. President Barack Obama stated once again, and quite firmly,
Best buddies, Bibi and Boehner
that he would veto any new sanctions bill against Iran. Apparently, Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner was not going to take that lying down.
Less than twelve hours after Obama finished his speech, Boehner announced that he has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on February 11. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest expressed President Obama’s displeasure at the invitation, of which the White House was not informed until Boehner’s announcement. Earnest called it a “departure from protocol” whereby the two leaders normally coordinate such visits. The soft words are thin cover for what is surely white-hot anger in the White House. Read more at LobeLog