Friday, January 11, 2013

Israeli Elections are a-comin'

Well, if you thought the campaign season here (in the U.S.) was fraught with vitriol, charges against patriotism, all manner of crazed predictions... (as they say) "You ain't seen nothing yet". Welcome tot he run-up to the Israeli Elections to be held in one and a half weeks.

So here is a simple graphic I grabbed from Haaretz that should explain the likely / and unlikely coalitions that could come from the next Israeli Elections (Jan. 22nd):
GRAPHIC ONE - The Hard Right Coalition
So... what are you looking at here in these graphics. Well in the first graphic you have
P.M. Netanyahu (Likud Betainu), Naftali Bennet (Ha Bayit HaYehudi), Ariyeh Deri (Shas) and what looks to be MK Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism). This is a Hard Rightist coalition that would command approximately 64 seats. Would be dedicated domestically to at least favoring a religious agenda (because both UTJ and Shas would hold the keys to keeping the coalition in tact) and on foreign policy and the Occupation would mark a veer away from PM Netanyahu's plan of an eventual Palestinian State on the West Bank (albeit with only 60% of the West Bank and no Jerusalem) and into a solution like that proposed by Habayit Hayehudi who would Annex Area C, Spend millions of Shekls to create connectors in Area's A & B and create autonomous homeland areas (but not allowing for an independent State) within the remaining parts of the West Bank. Economically, it would be very strongly "capitalist" in a country that is basically a Socialist or Social Democratic nation.

This is NOT the Prime Ministers preferred coalition, though it may indeed be the coalition that is most likely to happen. Why? Because, P.M. Netanyahu first of all DOES NOT really want to be dependent on the Religious elements of society to run the government. While he may be a Rightist he is not a theocrat. This coalition would place the stability of his coalition into the hands of the religious (and in the case of Habayit Hayehudi - religious nationialists). ALSO, Netanyahu does have a plan for at least some of the West Bank and Gaza to be a Palestinian State. While it may not be something that anyone will accept it is a plan. If he has to take on Habayit Hayehudi... that plan goes out the window.

GRAPHIC TWO - The Broad Based Coalition

This is the Prime Ministers favored government. It shows Likud Beitainu (34 seats projected), HaTanuah (Tzipi Livni's new party) (11 Seats), Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid's new party) (11 Seats), Shas (10 seats) and UTJ (6 seats) for a solid Knesset majority of 72 seats. While this coalition would still have to hold on to either of the religious parties to maintain the coalition, either party could leave and not crash the coalition. Given the more politically moderate nature of Ariyeh Deri (compared to Eli Yishai of Shas), this would allow for a foreign policy that is more flexible and more security minded than religious nationalist minded.

This would in appearances and policy represent a Center (Yesh Atid and HaTanuah) / Right (Likud - Betainu) coalition. It would be more more socially responsible than option # 1 in terms of national economics, and would have a religious presence but not necessarily a religious - nationalist presence. HOWEVER, when I say this that is not to say that there would be NO religious - nationalist presence there. Likud, in their primaries, purged a few prominent "moderates" and took on a much more rightist perspective with Danny Danon and Moshe Feiglin moving up the ranks. Interestingly enough... Likud Betainu (who are bleeding votes in the polls to Habayit Hayehudi) are now so pissed off that they are threateing the settlers that vote for Bennett's party instead of Likud.
Support for Naftali Bennett’s ascendant right-wing Jewish Home party comes largely at the expense of the Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list and its leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — and nowhere is this more pronounced than among the largely Orthodox settler population. Reportedly, the trend has prompted Likud to “play rough” and convey the message that if these Israelis fail to vote for Likud-Beytenu in January 22′s election, the consequences for the entire settler movement could be grave.... 
...But now, the sources said, “there’s pressure on the settlers. The message is that, this time round, you have to be with us. Otherwise, there will be repercussions for the future of the settlement movement.”
Along with this very direct threat:
Another Likud member was quoted as saying that, after the elections, the party would compare the number of votes it received in various settlements to the number of Likud members in the same locations.
NOW... how will Likud be able to make good on this threat with people like Danon and Feiglin in the mix, I don't know. It seems to me that no matter what, the settlers will have support from Likud-Beitainu. The real question is whether Lapid and Livni will "play ball" with Netanyahu and his plans. Both are relative moderates on foreign policy issues (which includes the Occupation). Neither one wants to Annex the West Bank into Israel and create a demographic nightmare that would effectively force Israel to become a minority run state. SO, I am not sure how I can see Livni in coalition with Danon, Feiglin or Lieberman (that already did not work out once).

Also, Given Netanyahu's record of absorbing more moderate groups in (Kadima and Labor), I am not sure how far either of them can trust the Prime Minister to work with their agenda's. I think that if either of the two "centrist" parties do go into a coalition government with Likud - Betainu they would try to exact some heavy promises from that group however, as Shaul Mofaz, and Ehud Barak found out... those promises from Likud don't really amount to much.

GRAPHIC THREE - The Left/Center Coalition

Personal Note: (this is the coalition I personally support).
This coalition has virtually no chance of happening however... it is nice to see. This coalition as shown would consist of Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) (18 Seats) heading up a government consisting of Livni, (11 seats), Lapid (11 Seats), Shas (10 Seats), UTJ (6 seats), and Zehava Gal On (Meretz) (5 seats) for a total of 61 seats. A bare majority that would strongly be beholden to the religious parties on those issues.

This has a low likely hood of happening for two reasons. The first is that Likud/Betainu would be able to put together that Rightist coalition without any of the Center - Center Left parties on his own and since it is pretty obvious from the polling Likud - Betainu will win a strong majority of seats they will have the "first crack" at building a government. ALSO.... as the chart indicates the religious parties seem to both prefer that Likud be given the first shot at the government and I don't think would hold out for Yachimovich's very secular and leftist economic platforms. Still it is a nice dream.

This is an interesting situation because I think this would probably not happen but... it would have Likud-Betainu (34 seats), Labor (18 Seats), Lapid (10 seats) and Livni (11 seats) plus the religious parties (16 seats). This would give 73 seats NOT counting the religious parties (89 seats with the Religious Parties). Why do I see this as not probably not happening?

Well first of all, I can't see Labor EVER going back into coalition with Likud given their previous experience. I don't see how Yachimovich and Co. could co-exist with Danon and Feiglin, it just doesn't make sense. Plus, Yachimovich has sworn not to enter into a coalition with PM Netanyahu (though we all know how much politicians promises are worth) and to lead a strong opposition. For a long time, Yachimovich and Labor were not outspoken on the Occupation and Settlements, preferring a more neutral path and in fact had not touched the settlement budget but, in response to ever growing criticism (as Assaf noted in a diary a few weeks ago I believe) she has now come out as opposing increased settlement activity and promises to take steps opposite that process.

One might also ask "Where are the Arab Parties and Hadash (a combination of Arabs and Jews with a Communist bent) in this discussion? They sit at 11 seats total. As any observer of this will tell you, all of these parties are non-Zionist in nature and do not accept the idea of Israel as the National State and Homeland of the Jewish people. Because of that, or until they change that, they will never, ever, ever, ever be asked into or be part of an Israeli Ruling Coalition. It just won't happen.

SO that is a very brief rundown of what is happening in the Israeli elections. Of course there is much more to this and I hope that our Israeli Kos folk will add to this and enlighten us with some more info.


  1. For what it's worth, I favor #2. I also favor fewer political parties--ho ho..

  2. Yep... as you know I favor # 3 - I can't imagine the Feiglin wing (which just got stronger in the last Likud primary) lining up with Livni and Lapid. Remember also that Betainu was in the Kadima Coalition with Livni (run by Olmert) and parted ways over differences between Livni and Co.

    Remember Tzipi favors an Olmert style peace plan. That runs contrary to Netanyahu's plan which is a combination of the Alon Plan and Lieberman's program, and it runs completely contrary to Danon's and Feiglin's plans to annex the entire West Bank.

    I just don't see how those groups will exist in coalition. Now if you said it would be specifically to re-write the Tal Law and get the Harediim into Tzahal - maybe but both Shas and UTJ would not go for that. SO maybe they are successful in that but then when they lose Lapid and Livni over Occupation policy they won't be able to go back to the Religious parties and get stuff done.

    1. (livosh1)
      I'm with ya on No. 3, volley. Sadly, it just ain't in the cards this time 'round.

    2. Nope... I guess what to hope for is that the Opposition remains strong and united and eventually the Rightists fall apart when everything goes against them but I hate to have to see Israel go through the hell that this would cause.