Hello From Jerusalem - December 5, 2014

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Friday, December 5, 2014                                            13 Kislev 5775



Israel Heads to the Polls

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called for a snap general election.  It will be held on March 17, 2015, just a year and ten months since the last Knesset elections, and a full two years before the next election was expected to be held.
These elections are unusual in two respects:  First, it’s hard to understand why they’re talking place at all.  Second, the results might lead to a government which is quite different to what the voters intended.

The snap election has not been called in light of a major crisis or fundamental policy differences on core issues, such as diplomatic initiatives, the cost of living, education, healthcare or security.

Unfortunately, this election will only increase the public’s dislike for the political system and make young people less likely to bother voting at all.  Note that this trend will not affect the outcome uniformly.  The hard-right and the ultra-Orthodox always turn out in high numbers.  Young people, secular people and liberals, on the other hand, tend to have less faith in the political system and are less likely to vote.  For many, polling day (which is always a public holiday) is best spent at the beach.
Over the last couple of days, friends in Canada and around the world have been asking me about the key players and the possible outcomes of these elections.  

Here are five key points:

  • The next few months are likely to be turbulent, as politicians fight to determine what these elections will really be about - social and economic issues or diplomacy and defense


  • The most intriguing candidate in this election is undoubtedly Moshe Kahlon



​Kahlon's party still has no name, no list of candidates and no clear agenda, and yet surveys are already suggesting that it will get 12 seats (out of 120).  Kahlon is said to be trying to enlist some well-known women and former defense officials.  The party is expected to campaign on social issues and the cost of living.


  • To the left of the Likud, in the center-left, are Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Isaac Herzog (Labor).  Since some polls suggest that Livni’s party will not pass the electoral threshold, Livni herself may join either Yesh Atid or Labor.



  • To the right, there is Moshe Kahlon’s new party and Israel Beitenu, led by Avigdor Lieberman. 
  • While it is likely that Netanyahu will be once again returned as prime minister, he will need to forge a complex coalition.  The Bayit Yehudi party, led by Naftali Bennett, and the ultra-orthodox parties won’t be enough.  Netanyahu will have to bring in both Kahlon and Lieberman, neither of whom is on good terms with him.



According to a Channel 10 poll, 51% of the public think that these elections are bad for the country.  



The same poll suggests that Likud will win 22 seats, Jewish Home 17 (up from 13 in the last election), Labor 13, Israel Beitenu 12, Moshe Kahlon’s party 12, Yesh Atid 9 (down from 19 in the last election), the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism 8, Shas 7, Meretz 7, Hatnua 4 and the Arab parties 9.  Neither Kadima, led by Shaul Mofaz, nor Balad, another Arab party, are expected to pass the threshold.

Yossi Tanuri | Director General | Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA




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