Dr.Gerstenfeld’s article on the 13th week of the election campaign.
SECOND ISRAELI ELECTION CAMPAIGN
August 22-August 28, 2019
No Election Fever yet
The security situation keeps drawing major attention and is possibly worsening. On Friday August 23, a terrorist attack took place in the West Bank, claiming the life of a 17 year old Jewish girl, wounding her father and brother.1 Tensions continued during the past week both on the southern and northern border. Rockets were again fired this week into southern Israel from Gaza.2 A terrorist trying to infiltrate from Gaza was killed.3 The IDF struck an Iranian drone site in Syria, prior to a planned launch of drones into Israel.4
This however does not seem to change the voting intentions of the Israeli public according to the polls. They indicate that none of the two major groupings will get a majority in the upcoming elections.5 News remained fragmented without any major directions. There were reports that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s phone was hacked by Russian hackers a few months after Iranians hacked into his phone.6
Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abecassis vowed to quit politics if the joint Labor-Gesher list wins only four to six seats.7 Labor leader Amir Peretz stated once again that the combined list will not sit in a Netanyahu-led cabinet at any price. He called the Prime Minister a ‘capitalist pig.’8 Blue and White MK Ram Ben Barak called the Likud “black”.9
Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin said that his list may withdraw from the elections. He did so after a meeting with Prime Minister and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu. In return for the withdrawal of Zehut Netanyahu offered Feiglin an economic portfolio in the cabinet if he forms the next government. Furthermore the government will legalize medical cannabis which is an important issue in Zehut’s platform. As Zehut is not expected to pass the election threshold of 3.25 percent the risk is that it may waste up to 2% of right wing votes if it keeps running.10
The Likud has announced that it will convene the Knesset in a special session to pass a bill that would enable the party to place cameras in polling stations. This bill would enable the Likud to by-pass a ruling by the head of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Judge Hanan Melcer which prohibits this.11
The Supreme Court banned two candidates from the far right Otzma Yehudit party, the number two Baruch Marzel and the number five Bentzi Gopstein, because there is little doubt about their racist mindset. The Supreme Court did not ban the Joint (Arab) List as Otzma Yehudit had requested. The court stated that some of the Joint List’s candidates had violated a Basic Law by supporting armed struggle against Israel. Yet the court noted that the appeal submitted by Otzma Yehudit did seek the disqualification of the entire Joint List. 12
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, number ten on the Democratic Union list, accused Netanyahu of causing permanent harm to Israel’s relationship with the U.S Democrat party.13 He remarked that President Donald Trump would not be in office forever.
MK Rafi Peretz, the number two on the Yamina list said that his party will quit the government if President Trump in his peace plan requires that Israel concedes land in the West Bank.14 Another Yamina MK, Bezalel Smotrich attacked mixed army units. He called it a detriment to the IDF’s competence and ability to meet its tasks. Prime Minister Netanyahu reacted that IDF women’s service contributes to Israeli security.”.15
The head of the Joint List, Ayhman Odeh said that he would be open to enter a center-left coalition. His conditions include a peace proposal, annulling the Nation-State law, stopping Arab house demolitions, building a new Arab city, building a hospital in an Arab city and taking steps to limit crime in Arab towns and villages
Odeh’s statement received negative reactions from other candidates on the Joint List. The second candidate from Odeh’s Chadash party MK Aida Touma-Sliman tweeted that the party will not sit in a government of occupation, wars and racism. The leader of the Balad party which is part of the Joint List, MK Mtanes Shehadeh, said that Odeh was speaking for himself and not for the entire list.
Former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi – number four of Blue and White – reacted that his party would not invite the Joint List into a coalition. “We will not invite a party that does not recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” he said.16 The Democratic Union co-leader Stav Shaffir however welcomed Odeh’s statements. Labor leader Amir Peretz said that Blue and White should be open to the possibility of the Joint List entering in a coalition with it.
Thus time goes by without much of great relevance in the campaign. The elections are less than three weeks away and one wonders whether there will be any election fever at all.