Saturday, February 23

Brinkmanship in Coalition Building in Israel

Operator ... Coalition of the Willing? --  Isr...
Operator ... Coalition of the Willing? -- Israeli Electoral System (January 30, 2013 / 19 Shevat 5773) ... (Photo credit: marsmet546)
English: Israeli Minister of Defense Shaul Mof...
Shaul Mofaz  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Amram Mitzna
English: Amram Mitzna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Emoticonfucius #3: "Netanyahu Sounds Awes...
Emoticonfucius #3: "Netanyahu Sounds Awesome" (Photo credit: USb_cABLE)
With all the various blips on TV such as the Prisoner X Affair, not much attention was given to the coalition building process which is causing PM Netanyahu to sweat. His body language is unconcealed as the deadline to present a coalition to President Shimon Peires draws closer. He will have no choice but to request an extension of the 42 day period to form a coalition. He has a further grace period of 2 weeks from 28th Feb 2013.

Will Netanyahu succeed in putting a coalition together? He may have a formula to perform this almost unimaginable feat as there are still a few options available to him that are not so compatible with his party's world view.

Just after the 22nd Jan 2013 Elections, he was given the mandate by President Peires to put a ruling coalition together. This was done after consultations with Yesh Atid, Bayit Hayehudi, and the ultra-Orthodox parties, who gave him the mandate to be prime minister. Meretz, Labor, Hadash and the Arab Parties did not support a mandate for Netanyahu.

The centrist right -Yesh Atid of Yair Lapid, and the right - Bayit Hayehudi of Naftali Bennett, formed an alliance to go into the Likud-Beitenu coalition on condition that the ultra-Orthodox religious parties will not be in the coalition.

This is a big headache for Netanyahu, who had promised to take the parasitic ultra-Orthodox parties into his coalition. All this had created a weird situation as Zipi Livni of Hatnua Party was the first to join the Likud-Beitenu coalition with a promise that she would be appointed Minister of Justice, and also be in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians. She will not be independent in making decisions on these negotiations as she will have to tow Netanyahu's line on that issue. Livni's decision lacks logic and she will further lose credibility. Amram Mitzna and Amir Peretz left Labor under Shelly Yachimovitz because they felt she would join the coalition. The joke is on them now.

It seems that brinkmanship is the name of the game. Shaul Mofaz, whose once strong Kadima Party has only 2 seats in the Knesset. He has decided to throw in his lot with Yesh Atid and Bayit Hayehudi.
Yair Lapid stated that he will not be part of a block preventing Netanyahu forming a coalition government. However that is what he has done using a different tactic by combining with the ultra right party of Bennett. Strange move or not so strange as both parties share a number of common principles. Yair Lapid has made statements referring to the Arab Parties as "Zuabies" (a reference to Hanin Zuabi MK in a derogetory manner) which has a streak of racism, and with whom he will never cooperate. Hardly surprising and is an indication of a threat to coalition building from a more right wing flank that push the conflict even further on the back-burner.

At the end of the day, on the verge of brinkmanship, they will all have to climb down their trees and be part of the Likud-Beitenu Coalition. The alternative would be new elections as the person who will be asked to form the next government, if Netanyahu fails, stands a good chance of not being able to perform this feat. Netanyahu gains to lose more support if there are new elections as many will join up with Yesh Atid and Bayit Hayehudi on the issue of conscripting the Haredim ( ultra-Orthodox ) to serve in the IDF.

If the threat to coalition building would come from the left (Labor, Meretz and the Arab Parties) we would be in a better situation as far as peace with our neighours and a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is concerned. There would be a chance of a true change of government that would improve Israel's status in the world. This is not the case at all with the Yesh Atid-Bayit Heyehudi on the right.

What we have is a quarrel between the right and centre right as to who will form the next government. It is unfortunate that peace negotiations is not the issue. Haredim serving in the army is a minor issue compared to the problems Israel faces from Iran, Hezbolla and Hamas. If there would be more emphasis on peace between Israel and its neighbours, the need for conscription would be minimized making it a non-issue. This of course should be considered.

It is obvious that Lapid wants a senior post in the cabinet or take a shot at being PM. He has no parliamentary experience. He is also not a social democrat and his newly found political ally is even less so. Many of us have no love for Netanyahu's illegal settler policies and his penchant for not freezing settlements in occupied areas. It would not be surprising if Labor joins up with Netanyahu if all else fails. Labor also stands to lose if there are new elections. The only parties that will gain is Yesh Atid and Bayit Hayehudi. Both Lapid and Bennett know this. A question mark remains if at the end of the day the brinkmanship will pay off. It just may.

One thing is certain - movement towards a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine will not occur because of these manoeuvres in coalition building. So many petty side issues are preventing a coalition deal which is not constructive nor will it improve Israel's image.
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Tuesday, February 12

The Coalition Circus and Sport

As I mentioned in one of my articles prior to the Israeli Elections 2013 that after the elections new alliances will form that were unimaginable before. It is as if all the parties have become potential coalition partners despite giving the impression of the opposite.

There are parties such as Meretz, Hadash and the Arab Parties that stated that they would never join a Likud-Beiteinu led coalition. The Labor Party stated that later on in their campaign but we have to wait and see if their leader, Shelly Yachimovitz, will not be enticed to join the coalition by the wily Netanyahu and keep her word.

Yesh Atid is almost a foregone conclusion to join the coalition even with the ultra-Orthodox parties with whom Lapid has severe diffences over the balloting of ultras into the army.

Yair Lapid makes no bones about replacing Netanyahu after some time in the opposition if he does not join the coalition. Do we discern a certain self-righteous, megalomanic streak in Lapid?

Nobody knows what kind of macabre coalition we are going to get. There is a lot of haggling going on. Even Tzippi Livne's Tnua will be sucked into the coalition morass. I wonder what Amram Mitzna and Amir Peretz are thinking about this move? They do not share Likud-Beiteinu ideology or maybe like most of the politicians they have compromised their beliefs and principles for a tasty seat in the ruling coalition under Netanyahu. Possibly this is the case - perks and priviledges win over ideologies which can be compromised pro re nata  without a concern for the voters who supported them.

So the coalition circus continues. To be or not to be that is the question. What kind of strange bedfellows are we about to get and then suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (for the coalition partners of course)?

Maybe we will not die, but rather sleep with apathy and perchance to dream of an opportunity of peace with our Arab neighbours which will take the backburner as non important issues take the fore Lapid-like style, leading us to a disaster. Aye! There's the rub!

It is not over yet as new right wingers enter the Likud-Beitenu wing. Habayit Hayehudi has joined the haggling. This will be the right wing occupation Zionist settlement flank of Likud-Beitenu with its charismatic leader,Naftali Bennet, who is bombastic and abrasive. We must not forget the Feiglin ilk in Netanyahu coalition who are no moderate influence. Despite Netanyahu's personal problems with Bennett,  he will be an important part of the coalition. I fail to see much difference between the 19 th Knesset and the present outgoing Knesset. Even if Yesh Atid joins the coalition as expected, even with the ultra-Orthodox, the most important issue will be buried in the mists of time. Yesh Atid is a two issue party. Compulsory conscription for the ultra-Orthodox and an easing of the tax burden on the middle class. This is far too narrow a platform on which to get elected. This upstart party with a loquacious Lapid at the helm will pass into oblivion like all the centre parties before it. There was Dash in the late 1970's, Shinui in the early 2000s with Tommy Lapid (Yair Lapid's father as leader) and Kadima in the mid 2000's. All came in with a bang and disappeared with a bare noticeable fizzle.

Meanwhile the circus goes on and trends of little change are moving on the horizon no matter which coalition partners will be part of the Netanyahu Government.

Another issue which should be of great concern is the Betar Jerusalem Football Club. Here we see hard core Likud supporters reaching the zenith of the ugliest racism towards Arabs and Muslims resulting in the trophies room being burnt down by vandals. This hardcore of despicable racists have always supported Betar Jerusalem at the Teddy Stadium for generations. It is as if a tradition of Arab and Muslim hate has always been an integral part of the Betar Jerusalem supporters. It comes to the fore when there are league matches against Arab teams. The police force has to be reinforced on these occasions to prevent racial violence which can reach ugly proportions.

It is the same hardcore racists who inherited the hate from their right wing supporting parents. They are the ones who shout "Death to The Arabs!" at every match involving Arab teams. In the past, very little had been done to stop these outrages of violence. I wonder what would have happened had Arab teams shouted "Death to the Jews!" during soccer matches involving Jewish teams. It would not be tolerated not for a second! The police would have gone in with tear gas and rubber bullets and the crowds would be dispersed by water canon. The tolerance by the authorities for the racist Betar Jerusalem supporters was unjustifiable in the past and this racist cancer of hooliganism was allowed to blossom unhindered over the years. These racist hooligans are a strange mutant of the extreme right in the Likud and no matter what the Likud-Beitenu leadership say they must share the blame for instilling the hate for Arabs and Muslims who are not Arabs as evidenced by the violent outcry against the two Muslim soccer players from Chechniya who were contracted to play for Betar Jerusalem. The racist Betar Jerusalem supporters are more numerous than meets the eye despite statements to the contrary. A stronger hand of the law against these hooligans should be enforced. They are damaging Israel's image and adding grist to the mill that Zionism is racism.

The statements coming from Netanyahu against these racists was mild as would be expected - certainly not convincing!

Well we are all in for a tough ride. If people think that the new Likud-Beitenu Government will be moving towards peace with justice we will be disappointed because there is nobody in the government who has stressed the importance of peace with our neighbors. It is just not popular and considered almost treason.

Sunday, February 10

Akiva Orr, co-founder of Israeli radical left Matzpen party, passes away | +972 Magazine

It is with great sadness that I was told of the passing of Akiva Orr. Akiva Orr was a good friend of my friend Dr. Bernard Hurwitz, a veterinary surgeon from Yanuv, who treats my dog. Whenever I would come to visit Bernard, Aki was there and we always discussed South Africa as he knew many friends of my late father, Chaim Klein, who were banned and living in exile in London, where he had studied and lived. I was impressed with his incredible intellect and we soon found a common language. He was an interesting person, a very special person andit was today that Bernard phoned me to tell me that he found Aki dead in his home in Tenuvot. I was shocked and saddened by this tragic news. He is one of the last, true idealists whom I had come to respect. My heartfelt sympathies go to his daughter and ex-wife. He will be sorely missed.

Akiva Orr, co-founder of Israeli radical left Matzpen party, passes away | +972 Magazine:

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