Beyond the Cusp

April 11, 2019

Finally, the Israeli Elections are Done

 

Well, that is except for the yelling and finagling required to form a coalition. Here is where Israeli elections become confusing for most foreigners and also many Israelis. First, it will likely take until Friday before all the votes including from oversees diplomats, soldiers posted away from polling stations and a small select group who are not required to actually vote in person. Israel does not have early voting, mail in ballots for any but a select group as mentioned above and that about covers the voting. The next step is to take the votes for the parties which cleared the threshold of around 3.25% and figure what percentage of the one-hundred-twenty seats in the Knesset each one received. Then the heads of each party or block select who they would prefer to be the Prime Minister and send this to the President of Israel. He then tabulates which of the top vote getters will be first to attempt and cobble together a coalition. As the President is the only person technically who will view these choices, he could pick whomever he preferred and nobody might be the wiser. From the vote breakdown, it appears that the coalition will be a right of center coalition under Likud and Bibi Netanyahu, again. Yes, again. The estimates are he may end up with the exact same coalition as last time and as of this time, the main difference might be that Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked and their New Right Party may not clear threshold. Their split from the Jewish Home (our party) may be seen as a huge miscalculation or they may be credited with forcing Likud to move slightly further right and promise many of the same changes on which they had campaigned.

 

The way a coalition is put together in Israel also leaves something to be desired. There are far more parties in the Israeli soup than anywhere else than we know. This leads to the next Prime Minister having to meet demands from each party. All too often, two parties will demand the same Ministership such as defense or finance leading to real headaches, for the coalition builder, not us, we get to cover all the in-fighting. Other parties are easier to deal with as their main expectation is monetary support for their schools or their neighborhoods or their specific defining character of their party. The sticking point often comes down to who is permitted and in how many numbers or percentages are permitted to be deferred from Military service. Please do not request that we follow down this path any further, thanks. Eventually, a coalition will be hammered out or maybe the President will be forced to either allow another election high vote party leader to make a go of it or he can call for new elections. There is a time limit on how long each individual is permitted to put a coalition together and this limit is often the deciding factor on whether parties forgive their main demands and settle for half a loaf instead of two loaves, one under each arm. All of this fun and excitement will likely take a few weeks before all is said and done, and as usual, more will be said than done.

 

There will be a second result from the election which Americans will fully understand, the Israeli media will need to explain how so many of their polls and predictions could be so wrong. This will extend also to the American media which also called the Israeli results quite incorrectly. In both cases, this can be credited to a combination of political bias and wishful speculations rather than honest evaluations. That is fine as the Israeli media fell very much in line with their American counterparts in calling the United States Presidential elections wrong for the 2016 election cycle. In many cases, we all wish the media would do more reporting and less pontificating and editorializing. News is to be reported with as little bias and massaging as possible, something we all could benefit from. Us, we do not claim to be reporters, we state clearly that we are editorialists and thus have a flavor to what we write. Some have thanked us for being as straightforward as we do try, but where we fall on most issues is obvious and we seldom vary from our positions. At the least, we try and also provide alternate views and are quite liberal in accepting comments including critical commentary.

 

What probably was the most interesting prediction about this election was that the government would collapse in approximately six months and Israel would be driven into yet another election cycle. It has been quite a while since an elected Israeli government completed their four-year term before new elections were called due to the coalition collapsing or the main party deciding that elections were advantageous at a particular point. As elections are not held immediately after the fall of a coalition, going to elections is always a bit of a risk. There can be a whole sea change in the mood of the people from unpredicted events and other influences. It really is you call elections and you takes your chances. This was evident in the election results this time as when elections were called, within a week it appeared that Bibi would win easily, the New Right Party formed by Bennett and Shaked after leaving Jewish Home looked to be strong and polling comfortably over ten mandates while the Jewish Home appeared in complete free-fall and total disarray barely clearing but a mere one percent. With the initial numbers in, Jewish Home and the small bundle of parties brought together appears to be at five seats plus one they will receive from Likud as promised in the deal-making agreements and the New Right is on the cusp of not even making threshold, actually, without strong support from the votes left to be tallied, they very well may be beyond the cusp in the wrong direction and failing to make it into the Knesset. Some are blaming Bibi for their potential failure as he made a number of announced policies which were directed at the New Right taking their positions which may have brought a fair number of votes back to Likud which they initially stood to lose to the New Right.

 

Bibi Stands and Promises Judea and Samaria Local-Council Leaders

Bibi Stands and Promises Judea and Samaria Local-Council Leaders

 

This brings us to the final and longest lasting stage of Israeli elections, blame placing. There will be no lack of finger-pointing, accusations, recriminations, subversive theories, rapprochements, excuse-making, blame-laying and all-around claims laying all the blame on anyone but those who felt cheated by actions of others. There is no love lost in politics and Israel is no different. The saving grace in Israel is within a month of the new coalition taking power, there will be an entirely new set of reasons to blame them for not delivering on what they promised. Then start the in-fighting and eventually it gets to the point that nobody wants to take the heat and everyone runs from the kitchen resulting in, you guessed it, new elections. Of course, the largest amount of excuse making will come from those who are not included in the coalition and the loudest screaming will come from those who expected to do well and ended up not even making it into the government either in the coalition or in the opposition. You will note we did not say loyal opposition as politics in Israel has become almost as contentious as it has in America and as such those not in the coalition show no love lost on those they blame including or especially Bibi Netanyahu. We will all be told how he used devious maneuvers, outright lies, exclusionary rhetoric and just about every possible accusation of evil doings which anyone can imagine, and Israelis are imaginable if nothing else. So, if your party is included in the coalition, then you have to remain slightly reserved for a while and if your party is in the opposition then whale-away at whoever you believe is most responsible for you not getting your way, after all, they deserve everything you can throw at them, don’t they. In the meantime, we will wait and see how the coalition shakes out, what our party (Jewish Home) receives as an enticement and whether it parallels that we most desire. As for us here, we are waiting to see if Bibi will keep his most contentious promise which he stood before Judea and Samaria local-council leaders promising that immediately after the new coalition is seated, he would move to extend Israeli civil law to all their communities ending the horrors they have faced under military law and the vulnerability that placed them in before the courts, specifically the Supreme Court (see above picture). This is definitely one promise which would be political suicide for him to backtrack as doing so would make him vulnerable to parties to his right leaving the coalition. But some who are always suspicious have claimed this is exactly the situation Bibi seeks such that he will be forced to seek new coalition members from the more left leaning parties or even form a unity coalition with Gantz and seek some form of peace with the Palestinian Authority along the lines which Gantz proposed early in the campaign. His plan included another disengagement while leaving IDF stationed in the areas of Judea and Samaria, something we covered in some depth here in our early run-up coverage of the elections. This includes what we foresaw as the deepest and most serious problems which could result. Anyway, Israeli elections are done and in the can except not quite yet as the song and dance stage is soon to be entered.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

December 23, 2016

Jerusalem Challenge for New President Trump

 

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush but not Barack Obama had promised while campaigning to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, like Donald Trump, but all three were consistent in signing the waiver every six months at the advice and under pressures of their own State Department taking advantage of a compromise between the Administrative wing and Congress which had the waiver placed in the original Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which was also due to overt State Department pressures intervening in Congressional actions. The one constant has been the State Department insistence that moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem as called for in the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 would result in unrepairable damage to American credibility in the Middle East, troubles with European nations, potential sanction from the United Nations and international ramification unpredictable in their severity and potentials for violence. It is nice to know there are fiction authors working in the State Department who can invent horror stories based on their hatreds for the Jewish State. This is the result of the Arabization of the United States Department of State. This is the Department of State which advised President Truman against voting for statehood for Israel and advised against recognizing Israel or even having an Embassy in Israel then demanding the Embassy be placed in Tel Aviv and never moved to Jerusalem, advised President Eisenhower to press Israel to return all lands gained during the Suez conflict where Israel allied with France and Britain over the theft and nationalizing of the Suez Canal by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956, advised Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Carter to have Israel return all lands gained from their defensive war against Egypt, Syria and Jordan during the June 1967 Six Day War especially the Sinai Peninsula again until Israel did so on their own when making peace with Egypt. This Egyptian-Israeli peace was almost destroyed by President Carter and the State Department trying to include Israel returning the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria, Gaza (which Egypt had already denied to have returned) and half of Jerusalem as part of making peace with Egypt. Fortunately Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin stuck to their agreements presenting a unified refusal to the American demands finally forcing President Carter to accept the original agreement reached between the two leaders and give up doing additional damage to Israel because he thought he could force such through pressure and meddling. The State Department has supported every Palestinian claim while condemning Israel regularly in press releases as well as recommendations to Presidents and Congress. Their pressing for never moving the Embassy to Jerusalem is simply another standard of State Department malice towards Israel and her people.

 

President Obama just recently signed yet another six month waiver of moving the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem leaving the funding already allocated in limbo. With a waiver in place, one can expect the State Department to raise a full court press to make the waiver equate to a ban, not something which President Donald Trump can simply cast aside and move ahead with his announced plans to finally recognize the Israeli Capital City of Jerusalem with the jewel of the United States Embassy sitting in the city of King David, the city where King Solomon built his Temple and finally where an American can lead the world by placing their Embassy in Jerusalem at last. President Trump can expect a full court press to prevent his making good on his campaign promise with not only his own State Department but pressures from many heads of state from Europe, the Arab world, Russia and leftists worldwide. There will be demonstrations across Europe and the major cities in the United States and who knows what levels of violence will be wrought against moving the Embassy to Jerusalem and actually recognizing the actual declared capital of Israel since 1950 and the establishment of a secure State of Israel after the new nation surviving eighteen months of genocidal war waged against the nascent nation by more than a half dozen national armies attempts to destroy the nations of a Jewish State in the Middle East. The naming of Jerusalem as the capital city of the Jewish State was not a surprise as Jerusalem was also the capital city in the times of King David and King Solomon and where King Solomon built his Temple and where the Second Temple was built and where, Hashem willing, the final Temple will be erected in our lifetime. Once the United States has moved their Embassy to the city where it belongs, Jerusalem, then the rest of the world will have one less reason for refusing to move their embassies as well.

 

Move American Embassy to Jerusalem

 

The resistance to President Trump moving the Embassy to Jerusalem will be legion. The New York Times will be just the foremost newspaper writing horror stories and editorials denouncing this dangerous and threatening change of policy. Change of policy by doing exactly as Congress demanded with overwhelming majorities over a decade ago and only delayed by the pressures and invented horrors from the State Department and less than confident holders of the highest office in the land, or their animosity whether conscious or subconscious. There will be every form of resistance and roadblocks thrown up by the State Department using everything in their arsenal. There will be the aforementioned demonstrations around much of the world. There will be threats from virtually every Muslim nation on the planet. The European leftist leaders will go positively apoplectic with many having seizures and possibly entering comas as the actual move approaches. There may even be some military ranking officers protesting that such a move endangers American forces in many parts of the world. Our advice would be to pull such troops from supporting whomever or whatever they are supporting unless it is a vital American interest, and for those troops, send copious reinforcements. Perhaps the best plan would be to make careful and behind the scenes verifications of the American Consulate building as to its viability to be used as the Embassy for an interim period while a new building, if required, is constructed. This may require moving the consulate personnel to Tel Aviv and allowing them to use the old Embassy building as the Tel Aviv Consulate of the United States. This will cause some interruption in the use of the Jerusalem Consulate for the United States as the unofficial de-facto Embassy to the Palestinians as it has been utilized for the past decade or so. This was evident in what has been declared as Israeli settlers attacking American consulate personnel and their convoy. The attack was in response to an attempt set up by consulate officials with Palestinian instigators attempting to force entrance to settlement without identifying as American personnel. When challenged, some of the consulate officials drew weapons and as they left their vehicles had stones thrown at them. This was used by a vast array and the State Department to crucify Israel and the settlers. The American consulate in Jerusalem has become a tool in many cases for the war against Israeli possession of any lands beyond the Green Line and a cog in State Department attacks on Israeli policies including the annexation of East Jerusalem. The State Department will also not enjoy losing what has become their advance base against Israeli settling in East Jerusalem.

 

The world reaction aside, the State Department aside, even congressional resistance and newfound regret over their actions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 as Israel over the last decade has become a partisan issue with the political left abandoning support for Israel as they find it just a little too Jewish. This leftist turning against Israel also includes, we are sad to admit, Jews who find they are more attached to the Democrat Party than to Israel. So much for the claim that Jews care more for Israel than anything else, though we do not expect that when push comes to shove that even the most leftist Jews who have stood publically against Israel will not be included in the charge of traitors to the nation and standing accused of being agents for the Jewish State as some things never change. The leftists will welcome the leftist Jews when protesting Israel and will round them up with the rest of the Jews should that eventuality ever come. Proof was that the Jews were represented higher than any other groups in fighting for Germany in World War I yet Nazis would accuse Jews of stealing the medals they had won fighting for Germany as they knew as fact that no Jew fought for Germany as they were Jews, were they not? As stated; some things never change. Trump will face more pressure against plans to move the Embassy to Jerusalem than he will over even drilling in the arctic or fracking or virtually, if not every, other issue. This would appear ridiculous on the face of it, but mark our warnings, this will be the greatest hurdle an early Presidency of Donald Trump will face and the resistance will come from every direction with some coming out of the woodwork in the most unexpected of areas. We will even go out on a limb and predict there will be Jewish groups who will protest moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem. You probably want names now, well, OK. We can predict that a group called Rabbis for Peace, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, J-Street and numerous Israeli NGOs such as B’Tselem and their friends. We hope that a President Donald Trump will make good on his promise which all initial signs indicate he likely will and we hope that the Israeli government offers all the support to help steel him for the arduous fight which will ensue. We pray he will not become simply the next President to promise Jerusalem her rightful respect and then sign papers denying her those honors just as others have done, too many others from both parties. Then again, Donald Trump promised to be a different kind of President, one who is his own man owing nothing to the political powers that press their influence too often to the people’s and the nation’s detriment. Please make that promise a reality.

 

Beyond the Cusp 

 

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