Israeli Elections in a Nutshell - the top three players......

by: volleyboy1

Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 20:08:59 PM EST

Hi Moose folks... I hope you all don't mind an informative diary on the Israeli Elections. This is in no way meant to start any kind of "Pie Fight" and it is a non-advocacy diary.

As a disclaimer... I am an American Jewish Democratic Activist (some of you know me from Daily Kos) who does a fair amount of writing on Israel (and a rational approach to the Second Amendment). Personally, (though from an outsiders view), I support the Main Israeli Opposition parties of Labor (Avodah) and The Movement (HaTanuah), so some of that may seep through, though I will try to be as non-partisan as possible... So... Here goes:

First up the largest party and current coalition heads are Likud-Yisrael Betainu (Likud = "Coalition", Yisrael Betainu = "Israel Our Home"). Currently this party (which just combined) holds 43 seats (out of 120) in the current government. Their leaders are PM Benyamin Netanyahu and Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Leiberman. Their orientation is Rightist. Economically they are very much Capitalist with similarities to the "Romney wing" of the Republican Party. During the Netanyahu administration, social services and other aspects of public life have suffered having been underfunded or auctioned off to private concerns. Last year's "J14" social protests (which "Occupy" mirrored in many respects) came as a result of these policies.

On the foreign policy front, Likud-Betainu has no clear or coherent policy. The party just took a rightward lurch in their last primaries and YESHA (Settlement Authorities) Representatives gained while the moderate wing was "exorcised". Some in Likud such as Netanyahu or Lieberman favor a modified Two State solution with Israel settling on borders that take up 50-60% of the West Bank, security zones in the Jordan River Valley and a concrete presence around Jerusalem and Hebron.

However, the Rightist wing of the party led by Moshe Feiglin and Danny Danon want nothing to do with that and are stressing that the only two State solution there is, is Israel from the Med to the Jordan, and the Palestinian State as Jordan itself.

Needless to say, the party refuses to actually articulate any kind of plan other than to blame everyone but themselves for any of Israel's problems. Even so, even though they are not particularly well liked, they are seen by the Israeli Public as being strong on defense and a party that will keep Israel safe.

The party is polling as losing 6-8 seats from their 43. Still, they will most likely be the largest party in Israel and will have the first shot at forming the new government.

The second largest party is the Opposition Labor Party (Avodah). Their leader is ex-journalist and Social Activist Shelly Yachimovich. Labor once was THE major force in Israeli politics but since then has gone downhill due to a series of corrupt and frankly incompetent leaders. In the 2009 election, Labor got on 13 seats and then further splintered into two groups and currently only hold eight seats in the Knesset. Since, Yachimovich has come in though, Avodah is back up with a projected seat total of 16-20 seats.

Their economic policy is Socialist to Social Democratic in nature. They are heavily tied to the Unions and the Social Justice movement. Their orientation is to support European style movements. Yachimovich's main achievements are mostly centered around women's and workers issues and she has been very effective in this area.

Their big failures have been two-fold. First, they have no foreign policy to speak of. They pay lip service to dealing with the Occupation, and aside from some muttering about making a deal on the 1967 borders (with swaps) really don't take much of a stand on this issue (or haven't until very, very recently). It should also be noted that when the time came, Yachimovich voted to maintain the settlement budget, though she says she would cut it at this point.

Their second problem is that they can't seem to decide who they really are. They keep running away from the "Leftist" tag and call themselves "moderates", and have really tried to distance themselves from what they call "Leftist" movements. They are trying in effect to re-brand as a Centrist Party.

Next up we have what I consider to be a truly dangerous player Habayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home). This party led by ex-Special Forces Major Naftali Bennett is a combination of the old National Religious Party (re-branded to Jewish Home) and virulent Rightist party National Union. Currently they hold 5 seats in the Knesset (they lost two to the Fascist/Kahanist Otzma Yisrael (Strong Israel) party. They are projected to emerge from this as the third largest party in the Knesset with anywhere from 13-17 seats.

Their economics are a populist mix of social capitalism with a healthy dose of religious nationalism. BUT, what they are running on is a message that they want to join in a Likud government to make sure that it indeed moves to the Hard Right.

Their foreign policy dominates their platform. In simple terms, they simply want make the Occupation permanent. They propose the following situation. They want to take 61% of the West Bank (where 100% of the Jews and 4% of the Palestinians live) and formally annex it to Israel. They would offer the Palestinians there full rights as Israeli Citizens (Bennett claims it would be 50,000 - 100,000 Palestinians). He then wants to take the rest of the West Bank and turn it into an Autonomous Palestinian area. The people in this area would have their own elected leaders, and state authorities but would still have to answer to Israel in all issues. The people in the autonomous areas would have no votes or rights as Israeli citizens.

Further their areas Bennett proposes that their areas would be connected through a series of modern high speed roads that would be only open to the Palestinians and Israeli Defense Forces (this paid for by Israel). Where he would get the money to pay for this... he does not say. BUT, this is his goal.

Rather than go any more partisan here because as I write about this, I realize how extremely stupid this plan is... I will leave it to you... dear readers to comment.

If you all would like, I can add perspectives on the next four parties: Shas (a Sephardic Religious Party led by Ariyeh Deri expected to capture 10-12 seats), Yesh Atid (A Secular Centrist party led by T.V. Personality expected to capture 8-12 seats), HaTanuah (A secular Centrist party led by former Foreign Minister and Kadima head Tzipi Livni expected to capture 8-12 seats) and United Torah Judaism (a religious Ashkenazi Party expected to take 5 to 6 seats).

Please let me know.

As a personal note, I look forward to participating at the Moose and with (what I can see) the eminently reasonable folks here.  

volleyboy1 :: Israeli Elections in a Nutshell - the top three players......
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Looking at (2.00 / 9)
the latest polling (thanks Wikipedia), I see

Likud-Yisrael Betainu: 32
Labor: 17
Yesh Atid: 13
National Union/Jewish Home:12
Shas: 11
HaTanuah: 8
United Torah Judaism, Meretz: 6 each
Ta'al, Hadash: 4 each
Balad: 3
Otzma LeYisrael, Kadima: 2 each

Where is Netanyahu's path to 61 in that picture, can he go hard right, or does he tack to the center?  

(L-YB + S + NU/JH + UTJ = 61), but is this stable? Or does he go to the middle with Likud/Labor/Yesh Atid/HaTanuah with a 70 (check my math please) seat coalition?

Hey R.D.... Nice to see you! (2.00 / 10)
First off, here is a great source for Polls: - they have all the polls.

Here was a diary I put together at the Progressive Zionist with possible coalitions: http://www.progressivezionist....

I see Netanyahu's path as two fold to 61...

1. Most likely = Likud (32-35) + HaBayit HaYehudi (13-17) + Shas (10-12) + UTJ (6 Seats) = Most likely 63 or 64 Seats.

The reason I say "Most Likely" is that there are no real conflicts with any of the coalition partners in ultimate terms. Likud just went Right in their primary, so teaming up with HaBayit HaYehudi is not that far of a stretch.

2. Less likely but still possible: Likud, HaBayit Hayehudi, Yesh Atid, Shas, and UTJ - BUT there are a couple of issues here. The first is socially, Yesh Atid is secular and will argue for a draft that includes everyone so the religious parties may not be too happy. Second, is that Yesh Atid does NOT want to continue the Occupation indefinitely. BUT Lapid and his crew are novices and could get sucked into the Likud vacuum (where Kadima and Labor went to die). This would give Likud 71 or 72 seats most likely but the coalition would be fragile.

3. Also less likely would be Likud, Yesh Atid, HaTanuah (8-10 seats), UTJ and Shas. This would give Netanyahu around 68-71 seats. BUT there are major problems with this coalition. First off there is "bad blood" between Livni and Lieberman. YB was in coalition with Olmert's government and left because of severe disagreements. Second, Likud's own rightists have no intention of ending the Occupation where Livni wants it to end now and wants negotiations. Plus Livni wants everyone drafted as well.

On the other hand depending on who wins and how many seats, this could all change and Likud could do it with a moderated Shas (Ariyeh Deri IS a more moderate figure), Yesh Atid, and HaTanuah. I am not sure how long that lasts but who knows.

I would say this... right now it is a complete "crap shoot". BUT I would not be surprised to see Livni, and Lapid do better than projected (at the expense of Labor, and a tad bit at Likud - as a fall out from the "moderates" at Likud getting ousted).  

Vote for me and all of your wildest dreams will come true!

[ Parent ]
I saw today that Shas... (2.00 / 8)
is making a play for the Ashkenazi vote.  I find that utterly fascinating.  As far as I know they've only played for the votes of Sephardim and Mizrachim and never for the Ashkenazim.  On top of that, those in the Ashkenazi community that would be inclined towards them are probably already voting for UTJ and aren't voting for HaBayit HaYehudi or Likud.

As for the post-election coalition, I wouldn't rule out Bibi making a feint towards the center given that many, if not most, of the people that put the right-wing candidates on the Likud portion of the Likud Beiteinu list are now voting for Bennett, so Bibi doesn't necessarily owe them anything.

I'm a Democrat.  Yellow.  New.  Progressive.  Blue.  Liberal.  Centrist.  We need them all in our big tent.

[ Parent ]
Well,,, one quibble... (2.00 / 8)
You say:

if not most, of the people that put the right-wing candidates on the Likud portion of the Likud Beiteinu list are now voting for Bennett, so Bibi doesn't necessarily owe them anything.

I disagree, I don't think they are. I think those that were going to leave, left. There are a large bloc of Rightist voters who will stay with Likud because they want to run the government and make sure the settlers have total support. Bennett, is a "wild card". With Netanyahu, Ya'alon, Feiglin, and Danon... they have a sure thing (so to speak). In fact, the Government just went around threatening the settlers saying... "Look what we did for you, no one has supported you more, AND we are going to look to see where our votes came from... and we will remember our friends"...

As was quoted in the Jewish Press:

According to one of the participants, Edelstein's "explanation" could be understood as implying that, should support for Likud-Beitenu in the Judea and Samaria settlements be weak, this would result in reduced government investment in there area.

Vote for me and all of your wildest dreams will come true!

[ Parent ]
Yesh Atid will be in the government (2.00 / 2)
Lapid's no. 2 is Shai Piron.  Who is a moderate religious Zionist Rabbi.

Shas won't bolt.  It's game is all about funding its schools and social service programs, and strengthening the Sephardi religious voice.  There will be an accommodation.  

Lapid's biggest desire is for a flashy portfolio.

Shas needs a seat at the table for a piece of the pie.

Bibi needs both to enhance his credibility as a national leader.

The future is unwritten

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I think it is possible but, not 100% on Yesh Atid (2.00 / 2)
They MIGHT do it, and Lapid really wants the Education Portfolio. But, they are still secular in nature despite some members of their list. Their decision making will be interesting.

As for Shas... of course they won't bolt. They have always been in it for whatever they can get and they WILL get their piece of the pie. With Shas it is a matter which way they will lean. With Deri, there was a chance they might more align to Labor - but with Yishai still in partial leadership I would say they head more to the Right.

ALSO, for Shas and UTJ, the Draft stuff regarding the Haredi is paramount. I can't see anyone forcing that UNLESS there is a strong secular majority.

For Bibi to have "credibility" he is going to need a lot more than Sepharadim and a Centrist T.V. Personality in his cabinet.

Interesting thing here. According to both Haaretz and YNET - voter turnout is way up and it is way up in areas that Likud is NOT strong in. Will they win? In my opinion, probably. What the margin of victory will be will be the  interesting thing.  

Vote for me and all of your wildest dreams will come true!

[ Parent ]
I'd put Lapid joining the government at 85% (2.00 / 2)
And yes, turnout is optimistic.

If Meretz gets 8 seats and Hadash 5, I'll consider that a great outcome given the circumstances.  But that's the ceiling I'm hoping for.

The future is unwritten

[ Parent ]
Yeah they might... I would not be surprised (0.00 / 0)
HOWEVER, again how they and the Haredi will get along is anyones bet. Gal-On (Meretz) was possibly projecting 9 seats. Now that would be interesting. I am curious where Tzipi Livni is going to land. Their support seems to have been slipping slightly as of late.

This one is going to be very, very interesting.  

Vote for me and all of your wildest dreams will come true!

[ Parent ]
Just saw a tweet stating high turnout (2.00 / 2)
Is that good or bad for Netanyahu?  The tweet implied he was nervous any scuttlebutt?

"I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One."  Namaste Friends!

Turnout looks like it is going BADLY for Netanyahu (2.00 / 2)
I have a diary at DKos on Liveblogging the Election. I can bring it here if folks so desire - I just really don't want to get the site infected with I.P. crap. I put the diary up there as an informative diary.

So far, turnout is looking like it could hit 70% and Likud Betainu is not happy with that. Right now their politicians are busy blaming each other for what could be a huge loss.

Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid are talking about possibly surpassing Labor, who in turn is talking about actually winning (I don't see that one but who knows?). This is actually very, very interesting.  

Vote for me and all of your wildest dreams will come true!

[ Parent ]
Yes please repost information (2.00 / 2)
I haven't seen a contentious IP entry here.  I actually haven't seen all that much rancor among the chewers of the cud.  Ever see Princess Bride?  Know the line Miracle Max drops when he decides to help Wesley, "Humperdink suffers? Then I'm on the job!"  BiBi is my Humperdink since he poked is nose in our election.  Here's to rightwing losses around the world.

"I honor the place in you where Spirit lives
I honor the place in you which is
of Love, of Truth, of Light, of Peace,
when you are in that place in you,
and I am in that place in me,
then we are One."  Namaste Friends!

[ Parent ]
MUCH AGREED... You got it. (2.00 / 2)

Vote for me and all of your wildest dreams will come true!

[ Parent ]

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