Sunday, March 8

Thoughts on the Israeli Elections 2015

English: Israeli Ballot Divider עברית: פרגוד ה...
English: Israeli Ballot Divider עברית: פרגוד ההצבעה (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As the time draws closer to the Israeli Elections on 17th March 2015, the polls are showing some trends towards the nature of the coalition government-to-be. The Israeli Electorate is more center right to right wing and this includes support for the right wing small parties including the religious right-wing Zionist as well as ultra-Orthodox. This gives a definite edge over the center-left to left wing bloc.

Despite all the electoral hype, polls and spin, the claim of the Zionist Camp forming the next coalition is remote. There are trends but it is unrealistic to share the optimistic view of the Zionist Camp forming the next government, despite the fact that the Zionist Camp is leading the Likud by 4 mandates according to the latest polls.

Many Israelis do not like Netanyahu, but they will vote for his Likud list as they feel that there is no alternative to Netanyahu's leadership. They view the Herzog-Livni partnership as a poor choice. Livni is not stable as she has changed loyalties three times before putting her eggs in Herzog's basket. The "blue-blooded" Isaac"Bouji" Herzog seems to lack charisma for being prime minister. His manner and his voice do not inspire many people. He has become more charismatic lately due to voice-training, and coaching. Apart from that, Tzippi Livni, may be an obstacle to the Zionist Camp getting enough mandates to be invited by the President to form a new government coalition after the elections. Increased support for Meretz will increase the Zionist Camp's chances of forming a new government.

The main players that will influence the nature of the coalition will be the small parties. Most of the small parties tend towards the center right to extreme right and are the natural partners for a right wing coalition under Likud leadership even if the Likud list gets 3-4 less mandates than the Zionist Camp. If the Zionist Camp continues their momentum of increasing the par by 8-10 mandates from the Likud then their chances would improve to become the next government.  

The left-wing Meretz Party is on the borderline of being represented in the Knesset. Polls indicate that they may get from 4 to 6 seats. If they only muster 4 seats then they may be eliminated from the parliamentary scene. This will be a sad day for Israel's democracy if it happens. Many Meretz supporters will change allegiance and vote for the Zionist Camp. This will not help the Zionist Camp to win the elections. A strong Meretz will increase the chances of the Zionist Camp to be invited by President Rivlin to form the new government after the elections. Meretz has declared that it will support Herzog in forming the next government.

There is a possibility that the two main parties, Likud and Zionist Camp will form a coalition together. Those who vote for the Zionist Camp at the expense of Meretz may even get the Likud as a coalition partner. One must remember that after the elections, the ball game changes in coalition negotiations and unlikely bedfellows become partners in a new government coalition despite declarations to the contrary. This happens after every election in Israel and there is no indication that this will not happen again. History - political and non-political, has a habit of repeating itself. The Likud and Labor have sat together in a coalition in past governments.  A voter, who is left inclined, will not be happy if this will be the final scenario after 17th March. Many of us who vote against Netanyahu would not like to see a Likud-Zionist Camp coalition. A vote for Meretz is a vote against a coalition with the Likud, right wing settlement-oriented, ultra-Orthodox government, which could include the Zionist Camp.

According to the latest polls, there is a move towards the Zionist Camp, who is 3-4 seats ahead of the Likud. The party coalition bloc will determine the nature of the coalition. In this, the Likud has an advantage despite trailing behind the Zionist Camp in the polls.

Many left wing Jewish voters may even leave Meretz and support the Joint Arab List (Ram-Tal, Balad, Hadash) Within this Joint List is the Islamic Movement that does not represent the secular supporters, Jewish and Arab. This will give this party a rather partisan character. This partisanship is no less negative than the extremist right wing partisan Zionist and ultra-Orthodox Parties. The Joint List will be the third largest party according to the latest polls. This party claims that it will fight racism, strive for equality between all Arab and Jewish citizens in Israel as well as true democracy. The leader of this party, Ayman Odeh, is eloquent, pleasant and lacks the aggressive rhetoric of Haneen Zoabi, the MK of the Balad Party. Zoabi has made statements that are in bad taste, divisive and very partisan. After the elections, the glue that cements the Joint List may melt and if this happens they may not be the chief opposition party. If not, according to Israeli Law, Ayman Odeh will be the leader of the opposition and the future prime minister will have to update him on decisions in the various Knesset committees, including the Security and Defense Committees. I wonder how the future government will adjust to that!

The Joint List has refused to sign an agreement for excess votes with Meretz because Meretz is a Zionist Party. The mantra of anything associated with Zionism to some Joint List members is considered evil. This is really so short-sighted and narrow minded for a party that claims to uphold ideals of democracy and equality that is very close to Meretz ideology. There are Zionists, who do not share the racist right-wing ideologies of the religious Zionist Party, Bayit Hayehudi, and extreme right wing members of the Likud including Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beteinu. Surely this illustrates a hypocritic streak in the Joint List that labels people as evil because they are Zionists.  

I shall be voting for Meretz with pride. A vote for sanity, a vote against Likud-Bayit Hayehudi racism, a vote for human values and decency for all Israel's citizens irrespective of race, colour and faith. It is also a vote for a more humane policy towards foreign or migrant workers and refugees, whose lives are endangered in their home countries. We must also negotiate peace with our Palestinian neighbors and work for an end to the occupation as essential priorities. The Joint List has elements of bigotry that is nationalist oriented on the Arab side in the Islamic Movement not much different to the late Rabbi Kahana racism of Baruch Marzel, an extreme religious right-winger, in the Yahad Party of Eli Yishai. Israel needs to improve its relations with the US which Netanyahu has damaged.

There is no doubt that we must vote for ending the Netanyahu regime that offers no future for Israel. Israel’s world image has taken a severe knock because of the Likud. This must improve with a positive change of government. Unfortunately, there will be no conclusive victory for either bloc and the possibility of the final say will be in the hands of President Reuven Rivlin.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

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