Make sure to read my previous posts in the series-
Quite a lot has happened since my last post on December 20th. Most importantly-
The primary elections in Likud
Yesterday (Dec 31st) Likud members took to the polls in order to vote for the party’s list. Approximately 55% of the 100,000 members of the party voted for over 70 candidates, who were competing for 20-25 expected seats in the next Knesset.
The official results have been published tonight. What’s interesting is not who’s in the list, but rather who’s out: Tzippy Hotoveli, who served as Deputy Minister of Transportation and Moshe Feiglin, who I mentioned in my first post of the series (link above). Both MKs are relatively Rightwing for Likud, both were expected to achieve higher places on the party list than before, and both will most likely not be MKs in the 20th Knesset. This is partly due to the Likud’s system which reserves slots on its list for local candidates who are not serving MKs, from the 16th slot onwards. If Likud currently has 18 MKs, by definition- at least two MKs are automatically out, to make room for local candidates.
The first 25 places on the list are as follows (current position in parentheses):
1- Benyamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister)
2- Gilad Erdan (Minister of Interior)
3- Yuli Edelstein (Knesset Speaker)
4- Yisrael Katz (Minister of Transportation)
5- Miri Regev (MK)
6- Silvan Shalom (Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee)
7- Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon (Minister of Defense)
8- Ze’ev Elkin (Coalition chariman)
9- Tzachi Hanegbi (MK and recently appointed as acting Minister of Health)
10- Dani Danon (MK)
11- Reserved slot (to be decided by Netanyahu)
12- Yuval Steinitz (Minister of Intelligence)
13- Gila Gamliel (MK)
14- Yariv Levine (MK)
15- Ofir Akunis (MK and recently appointed as acting Minister of Environment)
16- David Bitan (New candidate, representative of southern coastal area)
17- Haim Katz (MK)
18- Jacky Levi (New candidate, representative of Galilee area. He is also the son of former Foreign Minister David Levi and brother of MK Orly Levi-Abecassis of Yisrael Beiteinu)
19- Yoav Kish (New candidate, representative of Tel Aviv area)
20- Avi Dichter (former chief of the Shin Bet and Kadima MK in the 18th Knesset)
21- David Amsalem (New candidate, representative of Jerusalem area)
22- Mickey Zohar (New candidate, representative of Negev area)
23- Reserved slot (to be decided by Netanyahu)
24- Ayyub Kara (former MK, slot reserved for minorities)
25- Nava Boker (New candidate, slot reserved for a new woman)
Hotoveli and Feiglin are the next candidates for unreserved slots on the list, putting them in 26th and 31st, which means it is likely that Hotoveli may become an MK if someone else quits during the term, but it is unlikely that Feiglin will.
Earlier last week, a small drama occurred when rivalry between Netanyahu and the party comptroller led the latter to declare that Netanyahu is ineligible to run for party leader, because he had used party funds for his personal campaign. Nobody really expected any other outcome other than what happened- Netanyahu is still the party leader.
Yisrael Beiteinu gets caught up in corruption investigation
Also last week, police revealed that they have been conducting an investigation which involves Yisrael Beiteinu MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Deputy Minister of Interior), former MK and Minister of Tourism Stas Misazhnikov, and a long list of public officials, businessmen and organizations. They are suspected of illegally transferring large amounts of government funds to public organizations, as well as bribery.
The party leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman noted that since 1999, right before every election, the police conveniently reveal investigations against his party and its members. According to Lieberman, time and time again, these investigations amount to nothing, referring to such an investigation against himself, that was recently dropped after many years.
It is yet unclear what effect the investigation will have on the polls.
The Drama Queens of Shas
Shas is the Ultra Orthodox Sephardi party, which was founded in the 1980s by the late Rabbi Ovadia Yossef. After Rabbi Yossef’s death last year, there has been a power struggle between Arie Deri, the great leader of the party in the 1990s, who recently returned after 12 years of political exile after serving three years in jail for corruption charges, and Eli Yishay, who led the party in Deri’s absence. Yishay recently left the party and formed his own party, along with Yoni Schetboun, formerly of the Jewish Home party. The result was that both halves of the party dropped dangerously close to the 3.25% threshold in the polls (4 seats).
Many of the party’s voters revere Rabbi Yossef, and govern their lives by his rulings, including in the election booth. That is why the publishing of a recording earlier this week, presumably by Yishay supporters, in which Rabbi Yossef is seen expressing his mistrust of Arye Deri, is the equivalent of dropping an atomic bomb on the remains of Shas’s support.
But the drama doesn’t end here. The following day, Arye Deri declared his resignation as Shas leader, only to have the “Council of Sages”, a committee of three rabbis who govern the decisions of the party, and who were traditionally handpicked and led by Rabbi Yossef and are seen to act with the authority of the late Rabbi, refuse his resignation. It is claimed that the resignation and the refusal by the “Council of Sages” were planned in advance.
Following the resignation and refusal, Arye Deri went with the party leaders, the Council of Sages and some of Rabbi Yossef’s children to the Rabbi’s grave, in an event that was widely publicized and dramatized, in order to ask the Rabbi’s forgiveness for having his memory used and defiled for political motives. On Tuesday (Dec 30th) Deri quit his position as MK. All other Shas members have requested leave from the Council of Sages to quit their positions as well if the council allows Deri to leave the leadership of the party.
It appears the entire act of quitting his position, is a clever ploy by Deri in order to regain his lost legitimization as leader of the party and as the true follower of Rabbi Yossef, by showing that the Council of Sages as well as all the party’s MKs and Rabbi Yossef’s children stand solidly behind him, as representatives of Rabbi Yossef’s memory.
The Jewish Home
Usually, when one joins a party membership, there is a waiting period of 1-1 1/2 years before one can vote in primary elections. However, the Jewish Home opened its ranks to new members, without a waiting period, provided they join the party by December 29th. As a result, the party’s membership has swelled from 50,000 to 70,000, and there are now 46 candidates competing for 15-18 expected seats, with new candidates joining the race almost on a daily basis.
The list of candidates closes on January 7th and the primary elections will be held on January 14th.
On the Left- Candidates dropping out
Despite the picture that the Left is trying to paint, that the Left is about to win the elections, there has been a steady stream of candidates dropping out.
In Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua (currently 6 seats), which has merged with the Labor party, with the promise of 4 reserved seats in realistic slots, all members except Livni herself and Amir Peretz, who was a Labor MK in the past, have dropped out of the race.
In Meretz, MK Nitzan Horowitz has dropped out of the race. Horowitz is a journalist and is one of the first openly gay MKs. He has been active mainly in environmental issues.
In Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, MK Adi Kol announced this week that she will be leaving politics.
Important dates coming up:
January 3rd– Hadash (communist/Arab party) convenes to vote on merging with the other Arab parties, and allowing two of the party’s MKs to be candidates for a third term.
January 4th– Meretz electorate votes to affirm Zehava Gal’on’s leadership of the party. There are no other candidates for the party’s leadership.
Janurary 10th– Hadash convenes to vote on the party’s list of candidates.
January 13th– Primaries in the Labor party (the entire membership votes)
January 14th– Primaries in the Jewish Home (the entire membership votes)
January 19th– Primary elections in Meretz (the 1000 member electorate votes)
January 29th– All parties must present their lists of candidates by this date.
March 17th– General elections.
More updates to follow, either here or on my Facebook page. You can see current posts on my FB page in the righthand panel on this page.
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