Israeli Politics Manfred Gerstenfeld

Dr.Manfred Gerstenfeld: Most Lists of Candidates Are Published For Israeli Knesset Elections…….


Dr.Gerstenfeld’s article regarding Israel’s 8th-week election campaign…



Manfred Gerstenfeld

On February 21, the lists for the Knesset elections will have to be handed into the Central Elections Committee. Yesh Atid, which did not hold primaries, published its list of candidates which largely retained its existing MKs. The only newcomer among the first ten candidates is Maj. Gen. (ret) Orna Barbivai, the IDF’s first female Major General. Lapid said that she would serve as a senior minister in the government he hopes to lead.1 One of the current MKs Elazar Stern, who is in eighth place on the list is also a retired Major General. Two newcomers, former deputy director of the Mossad, Ram Ben-Barak and former high ranking police officer, Yoav Segelovich, are in eleventh and twelfth place.2


Lapid said that he would still make a major effort to reach an agreement with Gantz. He said that he had not succeeded so far because Gantz has not clarified his views on key issues. Lapid then listed Yesh Atid’s key issues, including amending the Jewish nation-state and mini-market laws, passing the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) draft bill, and ensuring that haredi pupils study math and English. He also called for a diplomatic process to enable separation from the Palestinians and a commitment not to sit in a government under an indicted prime minister.3


During the week there were reports of advanced negotiations between Israel Resilience and the new Gesher party led by Orly Levy-Abekasis.4 In most polls in the past week, Gesher did not pass the election threshold. Howeve, when the list of candidates of Israel Resilience was published on February 19 Gesher candidates were not on it. Former Likud Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon was in second place. His Telem party received 6 of the first 23 places on the list.5


On the same day party leader Avigdor Liberman revealed the list of candidates of Yisrael Beytenu. Veteran MK and former minister of Aliyah and integration Sofa Landver was dropped from the list and younger candidates included.6


Also the New Right released its list of candidates. This included the owner of the Hapoel Beer Sheva football club Alona Barkat in third place and Jerusalem Post journalist Caroline Glick in sixth place.7


The leader of Hatnua (The Movement) Tzipi Livni announced that her party would not participate in the elections. Hatnua did not pass the election threshold in a single poll during the month of February. Livni started out as a Likud MK and has since been in a variety of parties and has held a number of ministerial posts. The reason for her decision was that no other party wanted to join forces with her. She said that she did not want the votes of her supporters to get lost to the opposition.8


According to some recent polls the Labor party has recovered somewhat since the primaries. Several polls now place it at around 10 seats.9 This still represents a major loss from the 18 seats it obtained in the previous Knesset elections. Party leader Avi Gabbay was entitled to appoint the no.2 candidate on the list. He chose retired Major General Tal Russo.10


For the first time in its history, the extreme left wing party, Meretz, held primaries before candidates had been chosen by the central committee.
Three of the four sitting Knesset members filled the first seats after party leader, Tamar Zandberg. In the polls, Meretz receives four or five seats. Of 21,000 members, 86% voted.11


In the right of center camp, the concern about losing many votes continues. There was pressure on the Jewish Home party from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to run as a technical block with the Otzma party (Force).12 This party is led by former students of Rabbi Meir Kahane whose party was banned for running for the Knesset because of racist incitement. Several polls indicate that the party could receive voter support equivalent to three seats which is below the threshold.


A number of new people joined various parties. Most prominent and most surprising was Avi Nissenkorn, the chairman of the powerful general trade union, Histadrut, who joined Israel Resilience.13 This is a major departure from tradition as the Histadrut has previously been closely aligned with the Labor Party. Nissenkorn was placed in the third spot on the party’s list.


Former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has decided not to run for the Knesset.14 He had been reported to have made major efforts to convince the leaders of Israel Resilience and Yesh Atid to run together. A poll by the Maagar Mochot company posed the question whether voters wanted to see former prime minister Barak return to politics. Only 12% said yes, while 54% said no and 34% said they don’t care.15


In an unrelated development to the elections, the leader of the United Torah Judaism Party, Deputy Health Minister, Yaakov Litzman, was interrogated by the police. There are suspicions that he helped a former school principal avoid extradition to Australia where she is suspected of pedophilia. 16


Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to finally announce whether or not to indict Netanyahu.17 If his intention is to indict Netanyahu, the longer he waits to announce this decision, the more he will be accused in interfering in the election process.






3 Ibid


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