972 Mag | The post-Netanyahu era starts tomorrow

Well this a dramatic change in tone where the elections are concerned. For more perspective (note projections have been all over the board): 

If, as expected tomorrow, Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu gets in the low-30s in Knesset seats, this election will mark the beginning of the post-Netanyahu era. Bibi will remain as prime minister as long as the new government survives, but he will be a lame duck, helpless to rein in the demagoguery and wild initiatives of the quasi- and not-so-quasi-fascists in his coalition. He will watch the chasm widen between Israel and the West, Israel and the Palestinians, Israel and Egypt, Turkey and the rest of the Middle East, and be unable to slow things down with some phony ameliorative. Whether there will be a full-blown confrontation between Israel and any of its adversaries during Netanyahu’s coming term, I don’t know, but I feel pretty sure that one of the things that will fall into that chasm is his political career.

Why do I say this? Because winning in the low 30s in Knesset seats – or even in the mid-30s – means a huge defeat for Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu, which went into the campaign with 42 seats combined. Joining the two parties on one ticket was Bibi’s doing, he ran a one-man campaign (again), so the electorate’s verdict stands as a rejection of him personally, and the bitterness inside Likud for all the Knesset seats they didn’t win and all the party hacks who didn’t get elected falls on him, too.

As the old L.A. Lakers announcer Chick Hearn used to say when a player tried to get too fancy and ended up losing the ball, the mustard’s off the hot dog. Bibi, whatever anyone could say about him as a statesman, knew how to appeal to the public, to attract support and votes – but even this is gone now. His handling of the 2013 election campaign will go down as one of the worst political performances by an Israeli leader ever. Yesterday’s pathetic attempt to win back Mizrahi votes by rolling out the popular Likudnik Moshe Kahlon is just the latest example.

Bibi, 63, is now the second-longest serving Israeli prime minister after David Ben-Gurion. After tomorrow’s expected debacle for Likud-Beiteinu, he will no longer be considered an electoral asset by his subordinates. What’s more, he will be lagging behind them politically; with the arguable exception of Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, every single Knesset member in Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi – the presumed bulk of the next coalition – will outflank Bibi on the right. He will be the new government’s “liberal.” (Which pretty much says it all about the political mentality around here).

Adding it up, this means that unless Likud-Beiteinu wins close to 40 seats, a seeming impossibility, the battle in Likud to succeed Netanyahu begins right after tomorrow’s votes are counted. And the way Likudniks compete with each other is by seeing who can be more pro-settler, pro-war, pro-”Jewish values,” and more anti-Arab, anti-leftist, anti-dissent, anti-Supreme Court, anti-Europe and (more subtly) anti-Obama. Again, Netanyahu will be powerless to restrain them -  and if he tries to throw a sop to the U.S. and Europe by, say, playing along with some diplomatic process with Mahmoud Abbas, his party won’t support him.

So how will Bibi try to save himself? He’d like to start a war with Iran, but so long as military chief Benny Gantz and the other heads of the defense establishment oppose it, there will be no such war because no ambitious cabinet minister will want to answer for it afterward. And I don’t see Gantz and his colleagues changing their minds; like the rest of the sane world, they understand that Iran is strictly Obama’s business.

So no war with Iran, no move toward peace with the Palestinians – what’s Bibi going to do, then, in his third and final term as PM? What he’s been doing in his second one – struggling to survive, only this time he won’t make it, he’ll be overrun by the far-right. If I had to guess who the first post-Bibi prime minister will be, I’d say it’s a fight between Likud ministers Gideon Sa’ar, Moshe Yaalon and Moshe Kahlon, and maybe Naftali Bennett. What a lovely spectacle that’s going to be.

One last thing: As Bibi’s junior partner in this election, the not-so-quasi-fascist Avigdor Lieberman isn’t coming out of it too good, either. But then he faces a strong possibility of being banned from politics altogether for seven years in his upcoming trial. Three months ago, when Likud-Beiteinu was born and Lieberman’s legal troubles seemed about to dissipate, everyone thought he was Netanyahu’s sure successor as Likud leader and prime minister. No more. He could very well be history, too.

Final Israeli Elections Poll


By Noam Sheizaf | Published January 19, 2013
This pie represents the average of the latest 12 available polls. Clicking on each piece in the pie will show the expected percentage of votes for each party and their corresponding Knesset seat allocation. The different colors represent the various Knesset blocs. In blue: Right-wing parties; black and grey: Orthodox parties; purple: center parties; red: (Jewish) left-wing parties; green: non-Zionist Palestinian parties, including Hadash, which is an Arab-Jewish party. 
Interactive version of pie graph.
The Orthodox and the right-wing parties are considered “natural allies,” and in the past none of these parties have ever defected from the bloc if they had a ruling majority of over 60 seats (out of the Knesset’s 120). According to our poll average, the right and Orthodox parties now have over 66 seats, meaning that Benjamin Netanyahu is the only candidate who will be able to form a governing coalition following the elections.
A word on election predictions: poll averages have been proven a rather effective way of optimizing predictions, since they increase the polling sample and reduce the margins of error. Still, they cannot overcome across-the-board biases or mistakes, like the one which could be created by a tendency of a population not to take part in polls or the fact that polls are conducted only through land-line phones. There was a lot of writing on this issue before the recent U.S. election, but ultimately the polls were for the most part accurate, and the talks of large-scale bias turned out to be mostly wishful thinking on the part of the Republicans.
Still, it is easier to predict the results in a winner-take-all competition between two sides than in the multiple system Israel has, where it’s not even clear which parties will make it into the Knesset (the threshold is 2 percent of all legal votes, which means that the smallest possible party can have 2 representatives in the 120-seat Knesset). Furthermore, complex calculations determine the allocation of the last few seats, so some variations are hard to predict.
Things could also change in the next few days, resulting in major differences between the final polls and the actual results. This happened in the last elections, when voters from the left rushed to Kadima, making it the biggest Knesset party (here is the poll average I posted in 2009, and here are the actual results).
One thing is clear though: there wasn’t a single poll (not even one!) since the campaign started which had Netanyahu’s bloc with 60 seats or less, hence the working assumption shared by the entire political system is that the prime minister will continue to a third term in office.
Read more at 972 Mag.



This pie represents the average of the latest 12 available polls. Clicking on each piece in the pie will show the expected percentage of votes for each party and their corresponding Knesset seat allocation. The different colors represent the various Knesset blocs. In blue: Right-wing parties; black and grey: Orthodox parties; purple: center parties; red: (Jewish) left-wing parties; green: non-Zionist Palestinian parties, including Hadash, which is an Arab-Jewish party. 

Interactive version of pie graph.

The Orthodox and the right-wing parties are considered “natural allies,” and in the past none of these parties have ever defected from the bloc if they had a ruling majority of over 60 seats (out of the Knesset’s 120). According to our poll average, the right and Orthodox parties now have over 66 seats, meaning that Benjamin Netanyahu is the only candidate who will be able to form a governing coalition following the elections.

A word on election predictions: poll averages have been proven a rather effective way of optimizing predictions, since they increase the polling sample and reduce the margins of error. Still, they cannot overcome across-the-board biases or mistakes, like the one which could be created by a tendency of a population not to take part in polls or the fact that polls are conducted only through land-line phones. There was a lot of writing on this issue before the recent U.S. election, but ultimately the polls were for the most part accurate, and the talks of large-scale bias turned out to be mostly wishful thinking on the part of the Republicans.

Still, it is easier to predict the results in a winner-take-all competition between two sides than in the multiple system Israel has, where it’s not even clear which parties will make it into the Knesset (the threshold is 2 percent of all legal votes, which means that the smallest possible party can have 2 representatives in the 120-seat Knesset). Furthermore, complex calculations determine the allocation of the last few seats, so some variations are hard to predict.

Things could also change in the next few days, resulting in major differences between the final polls and the actual results. This happened in the last elections, when voters from the left rushed to Kadima, making it the biggest Knesset party (here is the poll average I posted in 2009, and here are the actual results).

One thing is clear though: there wasn’t a single poll (not even one!) since the campaign started which had Netanyahu’s bloc with 60 seats or less, hence the working assumption shared by the entire political system is that the prime minister will continue to a third term in office.

Read more at 972 Mag.

If you have ever wondered how coalition governments collapse:

Mofaz warns Netanyahu: If new IDF draft law not presented by Sunday, Kadima will quit coalition

Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that if a new IDF draft law is not agreed on by Sunday, his Kadima party will quit the governing coalition. Later on Wednesday, Mofaz plans to meet Netanyahu for a face-to-face meeting.

Mofaz convened his party members on Wednesday to discuss the next steps, after a meeting of a committee convened for the purpose of creating new IDF draft legislation - focusing on ultra-Orthodox recruits - broke down as an intense argument between Kadima MK Yohanan Plesner and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) erupted on Wednesday.

"We are at a crucial moment," Mofaz told Kadima members, "and if we do not introduce a bill in the government meeting we will not be able to maintain this partnership."

Plesner and Ya’alon planned to submit the bill on Monday for a first reading in the plenum, and to finish the committee discussions by the following week. That’s the last week of Knesset activity before its summer recess - and before the Tal Law expires.

The argument concerned regulations for drafting ultra-Orthodox men, including the severity of sanctions on individuals who would fail to report for duty, as well as how long a full implementation of an ultra-Orthodox drafting program would take.
During the meeting, Yaalon revealed his final positions to Plesner for the first time, after days of exploring the possibilities. One official close to the committee commented “We’ve reached a dead end. Ya’alon has gone back on most of the conclusions reached with Plesner over the last few days.”

On Tuesday, Ya’alon ventured into the lion’s den, so to speak, to address an annual Haredi business conference sponsored by the Hamodia newspaper; he tried to explain that the intention of the new law is not to destroy the Torah world. He said that he and Plesner were looking to establish “a gradual plan that is implementable and which all the involved frameworks can prepare for.”

Ya’alon expressed appreciation at the conference on Tuesday for the importance of Torah study and added, “The public and political debate has been rife with ignorance, incitement, disregard and not a little irrelevance. I am stating clearly: It’s not possible to implement a law that will draft everyone at age 18. It’s important not to cause a rift in the nation.”

(Source: haaretz.com)


Israeli MKs engage in stormy debate over African asylum seekers
Knesset members engaged in a stormy debate on Monday, following comments by Interior Minister Eli Yishai that Israel should not let African asylum seekers work and that the United Nations is responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) and the committee’s chairman, Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) confronted one another on the matter. “They are all infiltrators,” said Danon. “We must drive them all out.”
To that, Horowitz replied, “You are blabbermouths who shoot from the hips. I am not part of the coalition; you are. Go tell your interior minister that he hasn’t done anything for years and now he’s making declarations like the last of the blabbermouths. Turn to your defense minister and prime minister. We need a responsible policy here and not shooting from the hips.”
At the same meeting, a representative of Israel Police told Knesset members that in order to reduce crime among asylum seekers they need to be incorporated into the workforce.
"We have identified an increase in crime among infiltrators over the past few months," Tel Aviv District Commander Aharon Eksel told a Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, which was particularly charged due to the recent series of criminal acts involving asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv. He added that there has been a sharp increase in the percentage of violent and sex crimes.
"We believe these people are committing crimes for survival," he said. "We say that at this stage that employing infiltrators in some form or other will lighten up the situation."
His comments reiterated a recent call by Israeli Police chief to provide migrant workers and asylum seekers with work permits. “We aren’t coming from a political perspective, rather from one that is involved with crime,” explained Eskel.
Eksel also warned of the danger posed by increasing tension felt by residents of south Tel Aviv toward “infiltrators,” saying the “phenomenon is just beginning. If no action is taken, the issue is bound to become graver.”
MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) requested that Knesset members support the bill he proposed, which would punish employers of infiltrators and human traffickers with five years imprisonment. Akunis said various Israelis were “under occupation” by infiltrators. “No one in this room is racist. I support the absorption of refugees; I do not support absorbing infiltrators or immigrant workers.”
On Sunday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai rejected the call by Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino to provide migrants and asylum seekers with work permits, adding that Israel wasn’t responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan.
"Why should be provide them with jobs? I’m sick of the bleeding hearts, including politicians," Yishai told Army Radio.
"Jobs would settle them here, they’ll make babies, and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here," Yishai said, reiterating his stance that Israel should “jail or deport all of them with a departing grant. Once they’re in jail, they won’t want to come over here anymore.”
When asked about the danger facing returning migrant workers and asylum seekers in their home countries, the interior minister said: “I’m not responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan, the UN is.”

Its an economic and immigration issue, though this same conversation has panned out time and time again when parsing stats for birth rates of Palestinians and how that can effect the Jewish character of the state.
There is quite a divide between administrators and Likud politicians over a slew of related matters like this currently - many of which can affect the economic position of Israel or further exacerbate housing issues. Though the latter is partially affected by the same rent controls and subsidies imposed by the government as of late.

Israeli MKs engage in stormy debate over African asylum seekers

Knesset members engaged in a stormy debate on Monday, following comments by Interior Minister Eli Yishai that Israel should not let African asylum seekers work and that the United Nations is responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan.

MK Danny Danon (Likud) and the committee’s chairman, Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) confronted one another on the matter. “They are all infiltrators,” said Danon. “We must drive them all out.”

To that, Horowitz replied, “You are blabbermouths who shoot from the hips. I am not part of the coalition; you are. Go tell your interior minister that he hasn’t done anything for years and now he’s making declarations like the last of the blabbermouths. Turn to your defense minister and prime minister. We need a responsible policy here and not shooting from the hips.”

At the same meeting, a representative of Israel Police told Knesset members that in order to reduce crime among asylum seekers they need to be incorporated into the workforce.

"We have identified an increase in crime among infiltrators over the past few months," Tel Aviv District Commander Aharon Eksel told a Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, which was particularly charged due to the recent series of criminal acts involving asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv. He added that there has been a sharp increase in the percentage of violent and sex crimes.

"We believe these people are committing crimes for survival," he said. "We say that at this stage that employing infiltrators in some form or other will lighten up the situation."

His comments reiterated a recent call by Israeli Police chief to provide migrant workers and asylum seekers with work permits. “We aren’t coming from a political perspective, rather from one that is involved with crime,” explained Eskel.

Eksel also warned of the danger posed by increasing tension felt by residents of south Tel Aviv toward “infiltrators,” saying the “phenomenon is just beginning. If no action is taken, the issue is bound to become graver.”

MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) requested that Knesset members support the bill he proposed, which would punish employers of infiltrators and human traffickers with five years imprisonment. Akunis said various Israelis were “under occupation” by infiltrators. “No one in this room is racist. I support the absorption of refugees; I do not support absorbing infiltrators or immigrant workers.”

On Sunday, Interior Minister Eli Yishai rejected the call by Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino to provide migrants and asylum seekers with work permits, adding that Israel wasn’t responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan.

"Why should be provide them with jobs? I’m sick of the bleeding hearts, including politicians," Yishai told Army Radio.

"Jobs would settle them here, they’ll make babies, and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here," Yishai said, reiterating his stance that Israel should “jail or deport all of them with a departing grant. Once they’re in jail, they won’t want to come over here anymore.”

When asked about the danger facing returning migrant workers and asylum seekers in their home countries, the interior minister said: “I’m not responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan, the UN is.”

Its an economic and immigration issue, though this same conversation has panned out time and time again when parsing stats for birth rates of Palestinians and how that can effect the Jewish character of the state.

There is quite a divide between administrators and Likud politicians over a slew of related matters like this currently - many of which can affect the economic position of Israel or further exacerbate housing issues. Though the latter is partially affected by the same rent controls and subsidies imposed by the government as of late.

Netanyahu’s public calls for an attack on Iran could be political posturing?

While reports are supposed to come on Nov. 8 detailing Iran’s nuclear program, and they may have the means to develop an atomic bomb in two to three years, this may just be a typical Likud move to keep their coalition together. Don’t forget that their government runs on a basis of coalitions, and the government is under threat of collapse anytime people start to get too unhappy.

In light of aggressive settlement expansion, prisoner swaps, the housing crisis and recent settler and Palestinian clashes, this may be a good way to posture for their signature security stance. If Lieberman is now ‘convinced’ there may be more politics than action behind it.

At least you would hope. Who knows?

Israel ‘to legalize outposts on private Palestinian land’ | Occupied Palestine | فلسطين →

Whyyyy?

A friend I made in Bethlehem this summer said something that really resonates with me today.

My friend lives in a village of Bethlehem. He told me once, “Maybe we will have no where to live one day. Maybe you will visit me in Jordan one day.”

Maybe he is right. 900 homes are going to be built in the Har Homa settlement between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and considering that it is just up the hill from the center of Bethlehem many people are going to be affected, or lose their homes. Bibi is using the housing crisis as an excuse. Har Homa is a settlement where Israelis are given government subsidies to live in. Its one of Likud’s neighborhood projects and is purely political.

I am so sick with rage right now.