Beyond the Cusp

June 18, 2019

Election Roller-Coaster Taking Abrupt Turns

 

There have been a few spins and fast turns of late. Some revealed opportunism while others clarified the politics of others. Some were potentially expected and known while others leave one scratching their head as two leaders of one party appear to be heading for different goals. There are some facing an upwards climb in order to remain at the top while others see them simply dancing on in and taking whatever position they desire making any demand they wish. Some of the above may be hyperbole, but it has been a fun and interesting ride this past week leaving much to ponder. Where it will all fall out is anybody’s guess. Likud still expects to form the next coalition and the United Right plans on retaining what they fought over so desperately to put together. Blue White Party is working on damage control on two fronts. First, they are seeking to tone down the anti-Haredi messages and are requesting that Yair Lapid not be so out front and take a quiet seat allowing the all-knowing generals to lead. This is their, as one writer put it, “Rolling out the Generals.” This was a left-wing tactic which has been used before with the most memorable being Ehud Barak, who as having been a general would know every right move. Well, that one did not pan out as prescribed in the campaign and he was soon voted out of politics, then in, then out again and so on. One person not toning down the we give the Haredi too much so it is time for them to serve in greater number in the IDF is Avigdor Lieberman, who has created his own loop-de-loop, more on this later.

 

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Let’s start with Likud, the party expecting to put Bibi Netanyahu back in as Prime Minister. The reality is that they are very likely correct in their supposition unless the unexpected should befall us. Please do not take this as supporting Bibi Netanyahu. What must be granted is that Bibi Netanyahu has fulfilled the expectations that he invented himself. He has made the Likud believe that only he as their leader can lead Israel safely. This has allowed the Likud Party to remain as the mainstay of right-wing political expectations and prevented any mass exodus supporting anyone else. Bibi Netanyahu has also seen to the fact that nobody within the party is permitted to challenge his position. Those who do are often politically decimated or given a position which removes them from contention but also is such that one would be insane to refuse the appointment. This has led to Bibi Netanyahu leading his party for an unprecedented amount of time and as his party is the most prominent on the right, he will be the longest serving Prime Minister in Israeli history and will remain as such for the foreseeable future as his accomplishments politically are unprecedented in a democracy. Netanyahu will remain as the Israeli Prime Minister into the future until he, or Sarah Netanyahu, decide that it is time for him to retire and probably seek the position as President, something he is very likely to be given.

 

Meanwhile, there has been a call for a unity government with Likud Joining the Blue White Party along with the rest of the left-wing parties including Yisroel Beiteinu, where we are to expect their leader, Avigdor Lieberman, to be given the Ministry of Defense. This call was made by Avigdor Lieberman who was responsible partially, if not largely responsible, for the collapse of the last Knesset coalition. Lieberman has been suspected of socialist leanings and only joining right-wing coalitions simply to receive those guarantees of positions and monetary support for the Russian immigrants he represents. He is doing exactly that which party members expect, he is supporting the interests of his members. His problem is that his constituents are slowly decreasing as a percentage of the voting population. Avigdor Lieberman knows that any renowned achievements he might still be able to make have to come sooner rather than later as he might not have a later politically. One thing we know is that he desperately wants to be given the Ministry of Defense as from there he believes he can force Haredi into serving in the IDF. What is not being noticed by the media and others when covering Lieberman and this issue is that the Haredi are entering the IDF and National Service in record numbers without anybody pressing the issue. Reality is that the more the Haredim are pressured, the stiffer and more widespread their resistance becomes. Simply leave things to progress naturally and there will be little difference between the Haredi and the rest of the population when it comes to IDF and National Service entrants. People are very much a liquid of some unknown sort which will naturally flow more easily than being pushed which is immediately pressed back against and resisted. The Haredim entering the rest of society when it comes to working, IDF service and National Service volunteering, will probably be more easily attained the less aggressively it is pressed upon them. Sometimes, simply leaving it all up to Hashem and the problems often cure themselves. If only the entire world would take that very same approach.

 

Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

 

Now allow us to discuss the variations for the future of the New Right Party. This was the effort by Naftali Bennett for him to establish a secular and accepting of religious Zionist party. His efforts appeared to many to be as if he was forming a party which would be Likud Lite, the slender and more flexible Likud which would annex most of the major settlement communities in the Shomron. They formed this party by taking the top two people and another of the Ministers from the Jewish Home Party leaving their former party lurching as it sought new leadership. The New Right rocketed immediately to twelve to as much as fourteen mandates in polling. We warned people that this was not going to last and their future would be better invested in remaining with Jewish Home. We were almost universally ignored. Well, Jewish Home anchored a three-party coalition and cleared threshold comfortably while the New Right floundered and failed to reach threshold by the slimmest of margins. Now at one extreme we have Ayelet Shaked, or at least people claiming to represent her, making moves to bring the New Right into the United Right providing that they replace Rafi Peretz at the top of the ticket with Ayelet Shaked. This has not sat well with Rafi Peretz who after being wrestled from retirement with little desire if any to enter politics into leading Jewish Home and their rebuilding after Bennett and Shaked bolted to form their own party. Now that he has taken over this responsibility, the retired General, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF and combat helicopter pilot, he is not the type to leave a job half finished. Rafi Peretz has stated that he intends to remain as the head of the United Right. But wait, there’s more.

 

At the same time there have been reports that Naftali Bennett has been trying to attract Moshe Feiglin to form a coalition of his Zehut Party with the New Right as the almost two mandates which Zehut received would easily put the New Right over the threshold to enter the Knesset. This begs the question as to how one party will be capable of making deals with two separate parties. Perhaps there is some trouble brewing in the New Right leadership. They have apparently forgotten rule one of a partnership, communication. Then there is the other possibility; they may have decided to attempt separate paths taking whichever one proves to show the most promise. In the interests of Zehut, the offer by the New Right would guarantee Moshe Feiglin making his way into the Knesset without having to compromise on any positions as they would go their separate way after the election. This might not work as well for Moshe Feiglin should there be a greater coalition of the United Right including both the New Right and Zehut which might gain the United Right an additional five or possibly as many as seven additional mandates and allow for Likud and the United Right along with the Haredi Parties, potentially they might be able to choose only one of the Haredi Parties forming a coalition without any need for Avigdor Lieberman. This possibility of a right-wing and Haredi coalition without Yisroel Beiteinu being required to clear the sixty-one mandates to form a coalition. This would be the intrigue of the pre-election machinations except for the one known, the real suspense is what ploy will Bibi Netanyahu use in the closing days to agitate and awaken his base and the other question is at whom will Bibi target with his coming emergency, all hands on deck call which we are expecting. Bibi would not let us down, would he?

 

The Labor Party is also running around with much of a frenzied emergency. One of the most successful parties in Israel history and the sole leaders of Israel politics are now facing with the distinct possibility of not clearing threshold for the first time. They are looking both to the right and the Blue White Party and to the left to Meretz Party to find anybody to throw them a life-preserver and help pull them across threshold and back from oblivion. This is one of the major results of the Israel public moving to the right as well as becoming more Zionist and religious. Labor, a secular left-wing party has been left behind. Add in the Blue White Party and the excitement they cause with their four generals and their claim that as generals they are far more suited to lead the nation than Bibi as he never reached such high rank and thus must not be as prepared to face the security threats facing Israel. We predict that Blue White might not be favorable to any approach from Labor Party as it would not provide sufficient number of votes to make the surrender of two or possibly three seats on their party list. Labor and Meretz merging would be a more natural fit and could potentially lead to a permanent merger forming a somewhat stronger far left party. They would bridge the entirety of the left between the Arab lists and the Communist party to the Blue White Party. A Labor Meretz merger would garner them likely two additional seats in the Knesset and is the only means for Labor to guarantee to get anybody into the next government. This has a potential to change in favor for the Labor Party as they are choosing new leadership and with change there is always the possibility of the unexpected.

 

Lastly, one last means of solving the apparent confusion between the two leaders of the New Right, Naftali Bennett who is wooing Zehut and Ayelet Shaked who is making approaches to the United Right and still make Rafi Peretz happy as well. First thing is to set the record straight that Rafi Peretz is and will remain at the top of the United Right with Bezalel Smotrich occupying the second position. Then simply dangle having Ayelet Shaked reappointed to the Justice Ministership as part of their criteria for joining the coalition. This would make many within the parties of the United Right somewhat more motivated, Ayelet Shaked would be receiving something she covets far more than a top slot on the ticket and possibly not becoming Justice Minister to finish her work there and Naftali Bennet could continue to take the remainder of the New Right, those who would not follow Ayelet Shaked, and he could join with Zehut. Making any offer to either Ayelet Shaked or Naftali Bennett after their disgraceful bolting from Jewish Home and almost destroying the party has to be seen as generosity seldom found in politics. The only reason we advise that this is a decent idea is due to the work Shaked has already performed at this post and it would be of benefit to Israel for her to complete her vision. Any further tweaks could be made along the road. The only other item is we bet that this election Bibi Netanyahu emergency get out the vote last minute revelation will target Avigdor Lieberman and might be sufficient to prevent his party from clearing threshold, and providing Bibi with what he believes is justifiable revenge.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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June 12, 2019

Roller Coaster Pre-Election Ride Begins

Filed under: Israel — qwertster @ 1:54 AM
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Where to start, why not with the good, the bad and the beautiful. The good is easy but also will prove difficult to mediate. The good comes from the United Right’s current number two, Bezalel Smotrich, who has spoken the truth which the vast majority of the religious right pray for at services every day, that Israel live and keep the Torah and its commandments throughout the land. This does not mean what the media paints it to mean, as it does not demand anything from anyone who is not Jewish. They are only requested to follow the Noahic Code with seven laws. The Jews, on the other hand, have a mere six-hundred-thirteen laws in Torah. Somewhere over one-third of these refer to the service of the Cohanim and the Levites and their duties and expectations serving in the Temple. We do not currently have a Temple nor has any government Minister really pursued such a venture in the Knesset, thus it is not on the drawing boards, not in the planning stage and likely nowhere on the horizon. This means that these laws will have to await the people of Israel demanding the Temple be built, something prayed for every morning, afternoon and evening but not expected any time too soon. The rest of the laws are largely basic decency, common sense and the dietary laws of Kashrut. The majority of grocery stores sell only kosher food and are certified to have taken out the appropriate tithes and everything meets the high standards of the law. Restaurants are a separate issue but there are sufficient kosher restaurants even including some fast food establishments. What may amaze many people is that it may be likely, unless your favorite lunch location is not kosher, that the vast majority of people, Jews and non-Jews alike, probably lead lives that, outside of prayers they may ignore saying, are close to or within the demands of Torah. So, when Bezalel Smotrich spoke of his desire for Israel to become a nation whose laws and people kept to the Torah, he was speaking of a desire held by many and not transgressed by more than most might believe. He could just as easily spoken of the desire for the coming of the Mashiach, and we bet that would have drawn just as much scorn from any in the left-wing media, unfortunately that is the majority of the media. Their scare mongering will dredge up more hatred and mistrust between the people which is their intent. But speaking of such desire for Israel to become a Torah observant society is a very nice though and natural desire for the religious Zionist as well as other observant groups such as the Haredi. Nobody would even think twice had a Haredi leader made the same statement as that is acceptable from them as their voters mostly do not include the secular community. The entire flap over this was due to the attempt by the media to frighten the secular community, specifically the secular Zionists, into fearing the religious right parties over an event which was far more innocent than portrayed. Hopefully, the media feeding frenzy will be seen for what it was, an attempt at voter manipulation. It is really sad that the media here in Israel resorts to such tactics, but they will do whatever it takes to try and push the voting public into electing a left-leaning government.

 

BTC Israeli Election Banner

 

The bad is an internal desire which was expressed largely within the Blue White Party but which did receive some mention by the media. This was a request, perhaps a demand, for Yair Lapid to lay low and quiet over his otherwise normal denunciation of the Haredi community. Are some of the views expressed by Yair Lapid accurate and in need of a solution? The answer is of course some of these complaints necessary, but his solutions would actually be detrimental to the desires he expresses. The Haredi community are people, believe it or not, people just like all other people. As a normal community, they will adapt to changing needs and other factors at their own speed. On the other hand, if such a community believes they are being pressured, pushed and manipulated to change, they will resist such change just because people resent being pushed into change. What Yair Lapid is ignoring is simply because his vision is clouded by his personal apparent dislike for the Haredi community and their favored treatment due them legally under laws and appropriations made by the Knesset. Part of their favored treatment comes due to their guaranteed number of Ministerial positions they receive in every election from a devoted and unified community. The thing is some Haredi are already voting outside their dedicated voting bloc. This makes them what are called king makers as their bloc is necessary to reach the sixty-one mandates to form a coalition whether that coalition is left-wing or right-wing. Due to their crucial voting bloc, the Haredi will receive an identical set of concessions from either side, over the tantrum which would likely be thrown (in private) by Yair Lapid. The demand that his Blue White Party run with part of their platform for the forcing of the Haredi to allow more of their youth to be drafted for IDF service and their being coerced into joining the workforce in larger numbers would be a guarantee to never have the Haredi join them in a coalition. Their insistence that Yair Lapid tone down his Haredi rants is a purely political measure as they know that if they would ever be chosen to form a coalition, they would absolutely be required to include the Haredi parties.

 

Ayelet Shaked

Ayelet Shaked

 

The beautiful is easy as former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (pictured above) has made a semi-official announcement that she will be running for a position in the Knesset in the coming September elections. This semi-announcement about her return left out one important item; she forgot to mention exactly which party she intended to make her run with and what position she wished to take in their list. There have been those claiming she will be part of the Likud Party and others have called for her to replace Rafi Peretz at the top of the United Right Party list. Which one is the most likely? Well, I have doubts that she will replace Rafi Peretz at the top of the list with the United Right and Bibi Netanyahu has stated that he is not considering inviting Ayelet Shaked into the fold with Likud. So, where does this leave Ms. Shaked now as the leader of one list is not expecting to be replaced and the head of the other party simply is not interested in having her join the party. Perhaps we can find a small hint from her statements at the small ceremony given when she left the Justice Ministry. One of her comments was that she expects to return to the Justice Ministry. The interesting thing about her desire to return to the Justice Ministry does not require that she head any party’s list. She was not the leader of Jewish Home when she received the Justice Minister posting. She was number two behind Naftali Bennett. She was the number two behind Naftali Bennett on the list for the New Right Party which she and Naftali Bennett founded right before the last elections where that party did not quite pass threshold to make it into the Knesset. When Bibi Netanyahu was unable to reach an amicable agreement with Avigdor Lieberman who was making the same demands which he had pressed leading to the call for new elections in the first place, that situation is most likely not going to change with Avigdor Lieberman which means that should Bibi Netanyahu be tapped again, he will be relying on the right-wing, religious and, of course, religious Zionist parties. The good news for these elections is that such is very probably what will happen as long as the Haredi Parties also join the government coalition, something which is largely expected. So, the situation with Ayelet Shaked will depend on which party’s list she lands within. We can probably safely bet that she will not be placed atop of either Likud or United Right. There is still the possibility that she will remain with Naftali Bennett if the New Right is reformed for another attempt to pass the threshold this time around.

 

We can provide some free advice for Naftali Bennett, if he reforms the New Right, he should place Ayelet Shaked in the number one slot and take the second slot himself which would be more probable to put them over the threshold. There is one item which is the biggest guarantor of failure in politics such as in other professions, that is an overly inflated ego believing that they are the answer that the people are craving and if only you present yourself then they will flock to your banner. When you are Bibi Netanyahu and have been Prime Minister for the past decade and lead the strongest party, or at worst the second leading party, and may become the longest serving Prime Minister by the time of the coming elections, then you can have such an ego. No, we are not claiming that Bibi has an over-inflated ego. This is about all the actual excitement we have seen over the coming elections in Israel. More over the weeks to come and perhaps things will heat up. We can tell that the Blue White Party is confident that they should receive the nod from President Reuven Rivlin to form the next coalition. They are confident that with the Haredi Parties they will be able to form a coalition. There may be some questions as to this confidence. The Labor Party is in a tailspin and hoping primary elections for what they hope, and as Avi Gabay has decided that he will resign from leading the party and dropped from the primary list, will be a new leader as the latest polls showed that the Labor Party, the party which led Israeli politics for decades until 1979 when they lost the coalition making position, was not polling sufficient to pass threshold. Labor has also sought to join another party as a joint list, either Blue White, Meretz or another left-wing party but they have not had any takers as of yet. As the elections grow closer, they will have a better chance for this alternative. But with the left polling lower and lower, there may be doubts about the optimism of the Blue White Party. We will try and find more fun things concerning the September 17th elections in future articles.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 29, 2019

The Threats Come with Another Election

 

There were sufficient rough spots and unsteady unification for temporary gains which may fray right down the center exploding those somewhat tenuous bonds which barely survived last round. Another problem is that Likud barely received the necessary plurality of the vote to be chosen to try and make a coalition. Now the liberal left could take charge and get the opportunity to make the next coalition, assuming they are not provided with that exact opportunity after Bibi Netanyahu admits his inability to form a coalition. Such is unlikely but definitely a possibility and there is no guarantee against their taking such an offer and running with that straight to Avigdor Lieberman agreeing to give him the Defense portfolio and give a few other parties their ministries to which they aspire and cobble an unwieldly coalition which holds together long enough to permit more mischief in their ever present desire to exchange land for peace. The fear is not so much that they will provide Mahmoud Abbas all he demands, but, even before that, agree to meet every demand coming from the Arab and far leftist parties again simply to present a coalition. One item where the left has advantage over the right is their willingness to come together simply, whether convenient or directly against their individual goals and desired ends simply in order to wield such power.

 

Of course, such problems of holding together a somewhat less obvious coalitions together could, no matter how unlikely and illiberal, still unravel as egos clash and refuse to remain playing second-fiddle and decide to take their chances on their own. Such is most likely to breach the agreement under which the Blue White Party was formulated. Yair Lapid was promised a share in the position of Prime Minister but only after the leader of the other faction, Israel Resilience Party, was awarded the first two years. Holding his drive to be Prime Minister, specifically to be the Prime Minister under whose tutelage an agreement with the Palestinian Authority was reached, as if such is even likely. The friction is already fraying the bonds as the Generals leading the Israel Resilience Party were not as sufficient and important as to deliver enough additional voters so as to make theirs a majority outcome. Yesh Atid Party leader, Yair Lapid, is another who was willing to hold the lesser position simply as the method to attain his goals. With going to new elections, as all indicators are currently pointing, being a definite probability, every coalition will be tested. Basically put, once new elections become a reality, then everything returns to the starting point with all of the coalitions back at square-one. Expediency was the rule under which coalitions were made. What will serve as the binding reason putting coalitions together this time is anybody’s guess, but expected are similar agreements as went together last-time without as much of a ruckus.

 

For those parties which failed to clear threshold, new elections are another chance as hope springs eternal. The ones which came within a few hair widths, simply will be required to attract a few more voters for their recent break into the next Knesset. The other challenge is for the voters to maintain their enthusiasm and return to the polls and vote. The problem comes when the voters start to second-guess their reasoning and change their vote from the original party to a different one. Whatever is going to be with these elections will be held on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. Should Bibi Netanyahu be neutral and not work so hard at taking vengeance on those he had adverse feelings towards, it would be unusual. Such has been the case between Prime Minister Netanyahu and Neftali Bennett. There is some unsettled business between these two individuals which has led Bibi Netanyahu to feel it is necessary for him to force Naftali Bennett from politics. Bibi was instrumental is keeping Bennett’s New Right secular Zionist Party from clearing threshold. It is doubtful that this will happen again as Bennett and his fellow party will hopefully broaden their campaign.

 

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu Miri Regev Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu Miri Regev Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett

 

The big question is whether or not another election held so close together could cause much, if any, difference. That is where things actually get somewhat interesting. With new elections, Bennett and the New Right might pass threshold. Much will be dependent on whether his number two individual, Ayelet Shaked, remains in the party or bolts taking the offer made by Likud, which makes perfect sense as without her, the New Right will likely not make threshold again and will simply become another failed party. The mistake which Bennet made was on choosing to be, as it was described, a right-wing, Zionist, secular party with mild religious leanings. Basically, Naftali Bennett was attempting to fill a gap which did not exist. Bennett was seeking to place his party between Jewish Home and the Likud Parties, but there exists almost no space between the Likud and Jewish Home when it comes to voting blocks, thus Bennett was seeking to fill a gap which barely exists. He was out to make Likud Lite Party to give the Likud voter an alternative to Bibi Netanyahu, something they apparently were not seeking an alternative and thus he received minimal support. The fact that he almost made threshold was surprising but some also claimed that Bennett was seeking to be the replacement for the dead Jewish Home Party, the party where his surprise and abrupt departure taking with him the number two person from the Party as well as a third Minister of the Knesset all the day elections were called. His actions of refusing to permit a Central Committee meeting for close to a year, with the people who followed him and some other difficulties he pressed onto his former party, Jewish Home, it becomes clear he envisioned being their replacement except under conditions where he would personally choose the rabbinate of the party.

 

With likely merely a less effective strategy by which Bibi Netanyahu is able to depress the voters from the New Right, unless Likud does steal Shaked away leaving Bennett high and dry with no oars in the water, the end results of new elections will be very close to what they were. The main differences will be that Bennett will probably make threshold and the alliance of HaBayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home), Ichud Leumi (National Union), and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) as a block with Jewish Home as the leading party, which they called United Right Wing Parties will probably gain another mandate or possibly two. One or two of these gains will come from Likud Party going forward. This would produce a Knesset where even without Avigdor Lieberman, there would be a right-wing coalition with sixty-three to sixty-five Mandates thus preventing Lieberman from holding the government hostage, so to speak. Further, it is possible that Avigdor Liebermann and the Yisrael Beiteinu Party could suffer from voter anger over the new elections being forced by his intransigence. These votes could end up with Likud, Blue White or any of the other parties largely favoring the right over left wing parties. Should the unspeakable occur and Yisrael Beiteinu gain seats, these could come from anywhere but in the end would be supportive of a Likud led coalition. The secret in Israel with election is to forge a coalition such that no one party, other than one’s own party. Of course, the dream would be one’s own party to reach sixty-one mandates and thus be the coalition, but as Israel has very likely more political parties than one country so small would appear capable of forming, but we have and now they all are explaining how they should run the country. This is simply another instance of, only in Israel.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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