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  • January 26, 2013

    Israeli Election, 2013 – a Reality Check

    Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
    “Israel Hayom”, January 25, 2013, http://bit.ly/Y3fD7w 

    The political system 

    The January 22, 2013 Israeli election highlighted the urgent need to overhaul Israel’s entire political system, not just the proportional electoral system.  

    34 parties participated in the proportional election, and 12 parties (including anti-Israel parties) will be represented in the next unicameral 120 member legislature, the Knesset.  The more fragmented the Knesset, the more difficult it is for the Prime Minister to establish – and to manage – the governing multi-party coalition.  The Israeli political system is replete with mid-size and small-size parties, devoid of any large-size parties.  Therefore, the political system tends to be volatile and unmanageable, lending itself to short-lived governments and early elections. 

    The proliferation of political parties reflects voters’ frustration with the political system, which is top heavy on freedom of association and expression, but very low on accountability – by elected officials – to the constituent.  While voters elect parties, they do not directly elect their representatives, who are therefore not constrained by an effective system of checks and balances and separation of powers (e.g., legislators are also members of the executive).  Loyalty to the leaders of their parties supersedes loyalty to their constituents. 

    Hawks VS Doves 

    While the January, 2013 campaign rarely referred to national security issues, it underlined – once again – Israel’s hawkish majority.  The hawkish bloc of Likud-Beitenu (31 seats), The Jewish Home (12 seats), Shas (11 seats) and Agudah (7 seats) is bolstered by Yesh Atid (19 seats) which owes some of its seats to support by moderate hawks.  Yesh Atid’s leader, Yair Lapid, made a commitment – at Ariel University in Samaria – to maintain Israeli control of the settlement blocs and oppose the repartitioning of Jerusalem. 

    The hawkish Knesset majority reflects the frustration caused by the 20 year old Oslo Process.  Most Israelis do not trust the Palestinian Authority and do not believe in the viability of further concessions to the Palestinians.  The number of Israeli hawks exceeds the number of centrists, which exceeds the number of doves.  Thus, the most dovish party (Meretz) is represented by 6 seats, the mildly dovish Labor by 15 seats and the centrists Yesh Atid (19) and The Movement (6) 25 seats. 

    It’s the domestic agenda, stupid! 

    Irrespective of the boiling Arab Street and Israel’s recent war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, thedisillusionment with the “peace process” catapulted the domestic agenda to dominance.   

    The Israeli constituency expects the next governing coalition to forge a domestic common-denominator, notwithstanding deep national security and foreign policy disagreements among the coalition parties. The key issues which preoccupy most constituents are the need to prevent a global-like economic meltdown; to carefully manage severe budget cuts; to buttress the middle class; to reform the housing market; to introduce significant rental housing; to expedite the integration of the ultra-orthodox youth into military conscription; and to overhaul the entire political system. Averting the threat of a nuclear Iran is the only front-seat national security issue. 

    The Arab constituent 

    The traditionally low turnout of Israeli Arabs during national election derives from their disillusionment with the preoccupation of the Arab parties with Israel-bashing, rather than with pressing domestic Arab concerns: crime, drugs, education, employment and infrastructure.  In defiance of the Arab League which urged Israeli Arabs to vote in order to weaken the Jewish State, the Arab turnout was only 57% (Jewish turnout was a disappointing 67%), compared with more than 80% Arab turnout during municipal elections.  

    The discrepancy between rank and file Israeli Arabs on one hand and the Israeli Arab parties on the other hand is widening as the Israelization process of Israeli Arabs takes roots.  Israeli Arabs are rapidly integrated into Israel’s medical, pharmaceutical, banking, industrial, commercial, agricultural, cultural, sports and political infrastructures.  While many Israeli Arabs express their frustration by abstention, an increasing number votes for non-Arab Israeli parties. Therefore, the relative representation of the Arab parties (11, out of 120, Knesset Members) is substantially lower than their proportion in the population (18%). 

    Winners and Losers 

    “Kick the rascals out” dominated the January, 2013 election and highlighted the major winners, producing an unprecedented wave of new legislators: 47 new Knesset Members, a 40% turnover!  The 19 members of Lapid’s party – all freshmen – and the 12 members of Bennett’sparty – mostly freshmen – represent the new wave sweeping the Knesset. 

    The Knesset is the youngest ever with a record number of women (26) and settlers (17). 

    While Prime Minister Netanyahu will launch his third term in office, he lost 25% of his party’s Knesset representation, reduced to 31 – from 42 – seats.  However, Netanyahu can snatch a victory out of the jaws of defeat by adhering to the voice of the constituents and forming a domestic-driven coalition with a game-changing domestic agenda.

     

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  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 9:56 pm | 26 Comments »

    26 Comments to Israeli Election, 2013 – a Reality Check

    1. Canadian Otter says:

      QUESTION FOR ISRAELIS – Laura has been mentioning the possibility that the vote count was rigged. Would any of you Israelis please tell us how clean is the process? The oversight? Do you use paper ballots or electronic voting machines?

    2. NormanF says:

      The German MMP system needs to be adopted by Israel.

      Both to give voters a personal representative without losing the principle of proportional representation.

      And the electoral threshold is the world’s lowest – at 2% it encourages too many parties and inhibits the formation of stable governments.

      This should be raised to 5%. Israel can function with fewer parties.

      The Knesset’s term is too short. It should be raised to six years. At four years, new MKs barely have time to learn the job before they have to run for re-election again.

      These changes would produce a more representative, accountable and stable Knesset.

    3. yamit82 says:

      @ Canadian Otter:
      Canadian Otter Said:

      QUESTION FOR ISRAELIS – Laura has been mentioning the possibility that the vote count was rigged. Would any of you Israelis please tell us how clean is the process? The oversight? Do you use paper ballots or electronic voting machines?

      Paper ballots and while some rigging in small locals and Haredi communities, Arab and Druze villages are common but there couldn’t be enough to influence a national election. Party primaries yes, but not the big elections.

    4. yamit82 says:

      I disagree with most of the critique by Ettinger. He’s got most of it really wrong.

    5. Canadian Otter says:

      @ yamit82:
      Thank you, Yamit. The vote in Arab areas was quite low, overall. If all of them ever decide to vote (twice, thrice?) the anti-right wing tilt will be even more pronounced.

    6. Shirl in Oz says:

      I see a huge urgent need to overhaul Israel’s entire political system. It’s a complete mess. I thought the USA was bad, this far worst

    7. Canadian Otter says:

      OH, BOY! IF ONLY A FRACTION OF THIS IS TRUE, IT’S TIME TO FREAK OUT!

      One hour interview with JEROME CORSI

    8. Canadian Otter says:
    9. Canadian Otter says:

      More on China – Sorry this is off topic but it relates to the video link I posted above

      http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/does-china-plan-to-establish-chinese-cities-and-special-economic-zones-all-over-america

    10. Shy Guy says:

      Wow! We now have commenters linking to Alex Jones interviews.

      Just wow!

    11. Bill Narvey says:

      Yamit, please cite the key points you disagree with Ettinger on and tell us why.

    12. the phoenix says:

      @ Canadian Otter:

      OH, BOY! IF ONLY A FRACTION OF THIS IS TRUE, IT’S TIME TO FREAK OUT!

      One hour interview with JEROME CORSI

      Dear otter,
      Thanks for the link. I listened for the entire hour and cannot say that there were any points that I disagreed with.
      In fact, in a nutshell, I heard many of these points before, written and video presented by Ann barnhardt. While I TOTALLY tune her out when she starts her jc spiel, like this presentation, I think it TOTALLY makes sense and this is a classic, in your face example of a frog being slowly boiled.

    13. yamit82 says:

      Bill Narvey Said:

      Yamit, please cite the key points you disagree with Ettinger on and tell us why.

      The January 22, 2013 Israeli election highlighted the urgent need to overhaul Israel’s entire political system, not just the proportional electoral system.

      I pretty much agree with Einat Wilf: Is Israel’s electoral system just fine the way it is?

      “The gist of the argument is, to use the academic term, that all electoral systems in democracies suck equally,”

      Believe it or not, Wilf says, the Israeli political system is actually very stable.

      In her book, Wilf differentiates between different kinds of stability. The most important is democratic stability. There are only 23 countries in the world that have been “continuously democratic since 1948,” without civil wars or suspended or overruled elections, she writes. “Israel is one of them.”

      ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      Hawks VS Doves

      While the January, 2013 campaign rarely referred to national security issues, it underlined – once again – Israel’s hawkish majority. The hawkish bloc of Likud-Beitenu (31 seats), The Jewish Home (12 seats), Shas (11 seats) and Agudah (7 seats) is bolstered by Yesh Atid (19 seats) which owes some of its seats to support by moderate hawks. Yesh Atid’s leader, Yair Lapid, made a commitment – at Ariel University in Samaria – to maintain Israeli control of the settlement blocs and oppose the repartitioning of Jerusalem.

      The hawkish Knesset majority reflects the frustration caused by the 20 year old Oslo Process. Most Israelis do not trust the Palestinian Authority and do not believe in the viability of further concessions to the Palestinians. The number of Israeli hawks exceeds the number of centrists, which exceeds the number of doves. Thus, the most dovish party (Meretz) is represented by 6 seats, the mildly dovish Labor by 15 seats and the centrists Yesh Atid (19) and The Movement (6) 25 seats.

      Right wing in the Israel context is usually interpreted to mean those who favar or oppose territorial compromise with the Arabs. At least in defining the right as many who oppose territorial compromise are liberal even leftist in social and economic views.

      rs The ultra religious parties including the Shas Cult while not the standard bearers of territorial giveaways will not threaten the government if they receive enough in political payoffs to be quiet and vote with the government. In the past they have sat in leftist governments.

      Sharon was the first to break with having them in a coalition. As sectoral parties they need to be included in any government because that’s where the money is and they are wedded to government in-order to maintain and expand their proprietary institutions not to mention cushy jobs for party loyalists and insiders I would call them right wing. The majority of hardcore Likud members are right wing lite but will never oppose frontally the leadership who moves left. Here is where ideology conflicts with personal and party interests, and the ideology loses. Are they the right wing? Ans.: is yes and no and certainly more right wing than those supporting our parties to the left of the Likud.

      I see no ideological right wing party in Israel that passed the election bar. We have leftist parties and some a little to the right of the leftists who call themselves centrists. Centrists stand for nothing and that’s where the majority seems to be suck for the moment.

      It’s the domestic agenda, stupid!

      Irrespective of the boiling Arab Street and Israel’s recent war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, the disillusionment with the “peace process” catapulted the domestic agenda to dominance.

      Like the weather…!! Security has always been #1 agenda item and will continue to be… Israel has to reduce quick 40 billion shekel overdraft and BB intends to invoke austerity measure to reduce the budget. So forget any serious social economic moves in the near future except declarations of intent and maybe some cosmetic changes. Egypt is coming apart and on the brink of civil war and Syria and their poison gas will be with us a long time Assad just will not go quietly into the good night, or day. He has not said his last goodbyes. Jordan is unstable and Hamas is rearming and getting stronger by the day.

      Our economy shows signs of weakening and gas may or may not keep us from the brink but I am doubtful it will have in the near term the optimistic effects too many hopefully predict.

      The Arab constituent

      It’s good for us they cannot unify politically on anything except their hatred for the Jews. They don’t want to integrate and we don’t want them integrated, some like me would be rid of them. As long as our liberal Jews sense their hatred towards us no major move will be forthcoming seeking their full assimilation nor be offered them.

    14. yamit82 says:

      Comment to Narvey in moderation

    15. steven l says:

      The West will be disappointed with Lapid. If he stands by his pre-election position, he is firmly on the right as far as the IL-Pal conflict is concerned. I believe he DOES.

    16. Laura says:

      @ Shy Guy:
      Alex Jones is a bad guy, a vicious antisemite.

    17. Canadian Otter says:

      @ Laura:
      Alex Jones is that and maybe worse. Aside from his bizarre personality, I’ve noticed he gives a pass to anything negative about Islam. He attributes all terror instances to western security agencies using ‘Muslim patsies’. Never a word to denounce centuries of carnage caused by Islamic imperialism, or the current oppression in all Muslim countries. So it’s what he chooses not to say that defines him for me. ~~~~~ HOWEVER, I visit his site once in a while because he exposes things other media do not want to talk about, particularly increasing violations of people’s rights in the US by govt authorities. He does not make those things up, he collects info from legitimate news sources. ~~~~~ JEROME CORSI writes for World Net Daily and often does his own research on rather interesting subjects. His overview of the present situation appears exaggerated and alarmist, but if we only connected a few of those dots, that would be enough to raise serious concern.

    18. Shy Guy says:

      Canadian Otter Said:

      OWEVER, I visit his site once in a while because he exposes things other media do not want to talk about, particularly increasing violations of people’s rights in the US by govt authorities. He does not make those things up

      Like a broken clock….

    19. Canadian Otter says:

      WHO WANTS A DEMILITARIZED NAZI PALESTINE?

      – The lie that demilitarization can be implemented and enforced has been discredited by history.
      – No SOVEREIGN country will remain demilitarized for long.
      – Particularly in the case of a country that has unsatisfied territorial demands.
      – The map of tiny Israel proves within seconds the absurdity of such notion.
      – The Demilitarized Palestine concept is an insult to the intelligence of even a four-year old.
      – No agreement with Muslims is worth anything.
      – Any surrender of land is nothing but suicidal.

      See map here: http://israelmatzav.blogspot.ca/2013/01/topographical-map-of-demilitarized.html#links

    20. Canadian Otter says:

      The law of unintended consequences?

      Black leaders who supported Obama right-or-wrong, regardless of his agenda, are not confronting the fact that they – the favorite US minority that for so many decades was showered with special programs and affirmative action – are now being pushed aside by a tsunami of Hispanic immigrants – the same immigrants so welcome by the Democrats.

      Black crime was one of the reasons that drove whites away from many cities. Now it’s Latino gangs that drive blacks out of their neighborhoods. Thanks to the Democrats and their welcome mat for all kinds of Hispanics, from working folks to drug gangs.

      Latino gangs pushing Blacks from Los Angeles neighborhoods
      http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0126-compton-20130126,0,977110.story

    21. shachalnur says:

      Alex Jones is seen as pro-Israel,by most Anti israel sites.
      His wife is jewish.
      This guy has been screaming for 18 years,never changed his tune,and is being attacked now for waking up too many people.
      Before you judge the style and soundbites,watch a documentary he made in 2006.
      “Endgame-blueprint for global enslavement” on youtube also with hebrew subtitles.(Yonadav3 you tube channel)
      Skip from 20 minutes to 1 hour 10 to save time.
      I’t ‘s a history lesson,mainstream history,that anybody should at least be aware of.
      90+% of people have no idea what real history is.
      Alex Jones is just very carefull,to point at the real culprits for the mess we’re in.
      Therefore Jews confuse him for an anti-semite and anti-semites call him Hasbara.
      The cause for this is not Alex Jones,it’s people’s total ignorance of real history.

    22. yamit82 says:

      Laura Said:

      Alex Jones is a bad guy, a vicious antisemite.

      Some of the smartest people around are antisemites. Tolstoy was an antisemite and Most American Presidents. I don’t disqualify antisemites if they are up-front about it, it’s the ones who profess love and support for Jews while holding a grenade behind their backs, marked for all Hymies that you worry about. The guys in white sheets don’t frighten me. the ones who say I LOOOVE Israel I do question.

    23. shachalnur says:

      @ Yamit,
      Watch “Endgame-blueprint for global enslavement”,hebrew subtitles Yonadav3 you tube channel.
      Educate yourself ,stop guessing and shilling.

    24. Bill Narvey says:

      Thx Yamit. I read Einat Wilf’s article Is Israel’s electoral system just fine the way it is?

      I think you have encapsulated the essence of Wilf’s piece, saying: “The gist of the argument is, to use the academic term, that all electoral systems in democracies suck equally,”

      I am inclined to disagree with her in principle. Her point as you stated it, is an excuse to not deal with problems with the status quo Israeli political system.

      While it is true every political system is not without its dysfunction and problems, the problems each has is in part due to the historical evolution of their systems and the challenges they faced from without and within until this day. Those challenges differ from nation to nation and when it comes to Israel that has lived under genocidal threat, expressed and implied, those challenges are greater.

      Wilf claims successive Israeli governments have been relatively stable compared to other democratic political systems. Stability is one thing, but effectiveness is quite another.

      Those who criticize Israel’s current political system are focusing on effectiveness as much if not more than on stability.

      Anyway, thx again Yamit for your insights.

    25. yamit82 says:

      Bill Narvey Said:

      Those who criticize Israel’s current political system are focusing on effectiveness as much if not more than on stability.

      Effectiveness?? Dump democracy, worst of all systems for effectiveness, especially when under existential threats or national emergencies.

      You don’t dump or experiment with a system unless the consequences, are understood and what you are changing may become worse. They tried that when they voted for PM directly and parties separately. That experiment essentially destroyed the political party system here in Israel ad produced the cult of personality above issues and ideology.

      Since Israel has no completed constitution any changes are likely to add too much power to the executive which has in relative terms more power than the POTUS. We need a system where such a PM can be toppled by a simple no confidence vote. That is the Peoples check on that power. I want our PM’s to have to look over their shoulder and to always be careful of the actions he takes.

      There is a cost but on balance what we have is better than their suggestions. There is already too much concentrated power with the PM and any suggested change that increases that power is less for the people…. Based on who gets to be leaders here I want them weaker not stronger.

    26. uzitiger says:

      Direct elections are not the problem. It’s voting for parties instead of representatives which eliminate accountability to the voters and make Knesset members accountable only to party leadership. They don’t want to have representative rule because this would take away their power. The elites don’t want to relinquish power to the citizens who they claim to represent. This election system where you only vote for parties using a piece of paper with the party letters is not democracy but a sham of democracy. It is a Bolshevik copy of the British system without its advantages but with its drawbacks.

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