Tel Aviv University will host a Nakba commemoration event next week that might be seen as a violation of the new Nakba Bill. The new law forbids public events “that mark the birth of Israel as a day of mourning;” its violation could lead to a withdrawal of funds from a state supported institution or organization.
All universities in Israel, including TAU, are supported by the state.
According to the event’s Facebook page, the keynote speaker will be Palestinian MK from Hadash party, Mohammad Barakeh. He will be followed by Emil Habibi’s play “The Opsimist“, performed by Israeli-Palestinian actor Mohamad Bachri.
The Nakba event will take place on May 23. It is organized by Hadash students at TAU.
Read more commentary, News, Images and videos on the Nakba Day’s events from +972 here.
House Committee recommended revoking special privileges from Arab MK Hanin Zoabi. Other Arab MKs received threats from public and house members alike
Today, Israelis took their anger and frustration over the disastrous raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla on Arab Members of Knesset.
The Knesset’s House Committee recommended revoking special privileges from Arab MK Hanin Zoabi, who was on the Mavi Marmara. Though it was never claimed that MK Zoabi had anything to do with the attack on the soldiers, and she definitely didn’t break any law by boarding the ship in Turkey, the decision against her was passed by a majority of seven to one, with only MK Ilan Gilon of Meretz opposing it.
During the debate, Committee Chairman Yariv Levin from Netanyahu’s Likud party expelled from the room Both MK Gilon and Hadash Jewish MK Dov Khenin who tried to defend Zoabi. Gilon later returned to take part in the vote (Khenin is not a committee member).
The Knesset committee recommended rescinding from Zuabi three key privileges usually granted to Knesset Members. One is the privilege to exit the country – which is supposed to prevent Zoabi from fleeing Israel if she commits a felony or has debts in Israel.
Another privilege is carrying a diplomatic passport, which according to the Knesset’s legal adviser, is a privilege that does not grant diplomatic immunity so revoking it would not make it more difficult for Zuabi to fulfill her duties.
The third privilege is the right to have the Knesset cover litigation fees of an MK if he or she is put on trial.
The revocation of Zuabi’s privileges is conditional on the approval of the Knesset plenum.
Zuabi has been receiving death threats in recent days, and there was even a Facebook group calling to execute her. She became the first MK to have bodyguards escorting her even inside the Knesset, after last week several Knesset members tried to prevent her from speaking, and came near to physically attacking her, as can be seen in this video:
UPDATE: Here the rest of MK Zoabi’s speech at the Knesset, this time with English subtitles. Notice the way Knesset chairman Rubi Rivlin (Likud) defended Zoabi (for most part); too bad he stood almost alone against so many house members. Rivlin also said today that the Knesset has reached an “intolerable low” this week.
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi also received death threats today. An anonymous called told his that “your days are numbered. If a beloved Prime Minister was murdered, what’s killing you compared to that?”. You can here the threats (in Hebrew) on the audio player in this report. Notice the comments to the article, many of them claiming Tibi “deserves it”. Arab MK Taleb el-Sana received today death threats by fax. There was also a Facebook group calling to burn him.
You don’t have to look far in order to find the people inciting the public against the Arab MKs. This morning, all Arab Knesset members received a letter from their colleague MK Michael Ben-Ari – a known racist and the student of the late Rabi Meir Kahana, whose movement, Kach, was outlawed both in Israel and in the US – informing them that:
“Tomorrow the Knesset committee will decide on revoking the immunity of the Knesset Members who are collaborating with the enemy. The first debate will be regarding your friend MK Zoabi, who led the terror flotilla to Gaza.
“After we deal with her your turn will come! The people had enough with the use of Israeli democracy to destroy the state. Tomorrow it will be Zoabi, and next week yourselves!”
● It seems that Israel will also appoint a legal inquiry committee into the flotilla, with international experts as observers. The panel won’t be able to collect testimonies from soldiers and officers, and will deal mainly with the legal aspects of the attack. Clearly, this is not the investigation the UN and European community demanded, and the question is whether the White House will accept it (I wrote here why it shouldn’t).
● Egypt authorities informed today that Gaza border will stay open indefinitely. This is a great victory for the flotilla, but Israel might benefit from this move as well, as it makes Gaza more of Cairo’s problem, something Egypt has been trying to avoid.
Almost two weeks of intense political maneuvering ended yesterday. Many people on the Left got worried by Benjamin Netanyahu’s effort to split the opposition Kadima party or to have it join his coalition. Both options, it seemed, would have made the PM even stronger, and everything that’s good for Netanyahu is surly bad for the peace process. Or isn’t it?
While I write here regularly against the current Israeli policies, and consider myself to be a part of the Left, I think that the last year have moved us closer to the end of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, possibly also to the end of the siege on Gaza. The current political circumstances are pretty favorable, to the point that if I could have replaced Netanyahu with other Israeli leaders – say Livni or Barak – I probably wouldn’t go for it.
To understand why, we need to dive into the depth of the complex political dynamics in Israel.
If left to do as he wishes, I have no doubt PM Benjamin Netanyahu wouldn’t make one step towards the end of the Israeli occupation. His ideological background is one that views the West Bank as part of the land of Israel; he believes that an independent Palestinian state would put Israel’s national security in danger; and his political base has always been on the Israeli right.
But political leaders have to consider political circumstances and limitations, and Netanyahu – unlike the two other PMs from Likud, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon – is extremely sensitive to outside pressure. And pressure came from the first moment Netanyahu entered his office.
First, there was the new approach from Washington. It’s not just Obama, but the whole backlash against the Middle East policy of the Bush administration. Furthermore, the world knew Netanyahu, and remembered him as the man who succeeded Yitzhak Rabin and almost single handedly buried the Oslo accord. And if somebody was ready to consider the idea of “a new Netanyahu”, along came the appointment of Avigdor Liberman to the Foreign Office and fixed the image of this government – quiet rightly, I must say – as the most extreme Israel ever had. Even Israel’s supporters are having troubles in the last year explaining the PM’s fondness for settling in the West Bank or defending the daily gaffe by the Foreign Minister.
And there was the war in Gaza. It’s hard to grasp how differently the international community and most Israelis view operation Cast Lead. Israelis see the war as a justified, even heroic, act against Hamas’ aggression – which was the Palestinian response to the good fate we showed in withdrawing from the Gaza strip – while most of the international community sees Cast Lead as a barbaric attack on (mostly) innocent civilians. And while the Goldstone report might never be adopted by the UN Security Council, the respond it initiated made it clear that in the near future – and unless something very dramatic happens and change everything (we always have to add this sentence in the post 11/9 world, don’t we?) – there won’t be another Cast Lead. The world won’t allow it.
All these elements – the change in Washington, the suspicious welcome the world gave Netanyahu and the respond to the war in Gaza – are forcing Netanyahu to do something he never planned to – at least with regards to the Palestinians: to act. That’s why he announced the settlement moratorium, and that’s why he is willing, according to today’s reports, to negotiate a Palestinian state on the 67′ borders, and even to talk about Jerusalem’s statues. And this is the man that won the 1996 elections after he accused Shimon Peres of agreeing to divide the Israeli capitol.
Yes, I would have preferred a Hadash-Meretz government. But this isn’t, and won’t be an option in this generation. Right now, the political leaders with a shot at the PM office are Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, maybe Shaul Mofaz, and god forbid, Avigdor Liberman. Next in line after them are people with basically the same agenda.
The final results of the general elections were published on Thursday evening. Here they are, together with the polls’ average I posted here and my own projection.
Everyone missed out on the big surprise of the election – Kadima passing the Likud and becoming the biggest party again. The reason is simple: a new law prevents publishing polls in the last 4 days before an election. In the days leading to the elections, there was a significant move of voters from left-wing parties to Kadima, probably in order to stop Netanyahu. Meretz and Labor lost 3-4 MKs to Kadima in the 72 hours prior to the elections.
2:15 AM. As I write this post, around 25 percent of the votes have been counted, and one thing is clear: Benjamin Netanyahu is Israel’s next Prime minister
Don’t let Kadima’s narrow advantage in the exit polls fool you. These results are going to change as more votes come in, but even if Kadima maintains its lead, the Right wing will have a clear majority in the Knesset. That means that Tzipi Livni won’t be able to form a government, or to stop Netanyahu from forming one. The game is over.
2:40 AM: Ynet reports that after counting 83 percent of the polls, Kadima leads with 29 MKs, while the Likud has 27. Meretz suffered the biggest blow: Israel’s liberal party has only 3 MKs. The Right maintains its lead, with 64 MKs out of 120.
3:00 AM. Final results will only be published in a couple of days, but as things look now, we will have a Right-Center coalition, probably with Netanyahu as PM. He will try to have Livni and Kadima as his senior partners. Yes, all the leftists who voted for Livni in order to stop Netanyahu will discover that they actually helped him build a more stable coalition.
If for some reason Kadima will refuse to join Netanyahu’s government, he will have the option to form a coalition with the Extreme-Right and Orthodox parties.
3:05 AM. The “good” news: Liberman with 15 seats for now. He might get to 16 when the soldiers votes are added. It is still too much for the populist and racist politician he is, but far from the 20 MKs his supporters were hoping for.
3:30 AM. More than 90 percent of the votes are in. Kdima has 29 seats, Likud 27, Israel Beitenu 15, Labor 13, Shas 11, Yahadut Hatorah 4, Hadash 4, Raam 4, Ihud Leumi 4, Meretz 3, Balad 3, Habait Hayehudi 3. There will be some minor changes when the soldiers’ votes are counted, and all seat allocation rules applied.
A new law forbids publishing polls in the four days before the elections, in order not to influence voters’ decisions. The Israeli media published yesterday its final polls.
The numbers are not that different from one poll to another, and they all show a clear advantage for the Right-Orthodox block led by Benjamin Netanyhu (*). This means Netanyhau will be Israel’s next prime minister, even in the unlikely event of Tzipi Livni’s Kadima being the biggest party. Our average gives the Right a bit more than 67 MKs, meaning he can form a government even without taking in the extreme-right “Ihud Leumi” party. As I wrote before, Netanyahu will surly try to get Labor or Kadima into his government as well. Given the advantage he has now, it shouldn’t be too hard.
Here are the numbers. The later polls are on the right. The grey column on the right end of the table is our polls average. On Monday I will post my own prediction.
(Click on the table to see it in full size)
Avigdor Libermanis the big winner of the elections. His party will probably pass Labor and become Israel’s third largest. The latest polls indicate that he is still getting stronger, so given the fact that we have three more days before the elections, even a 20 plus result for “Israel Beitenu” won’t be a big surprise.
Liberman’s success is helping Kadima, who is getting slightly stronger, probably because of voters wishing to balance his power in the next Knesset. There are 1-2 percent of Left-leaning undecided voters, most of them women, hanging between Kadima and Meretz. Barak’s labor is not an option for them.
Labor’s war bump has stopped, and the latest polls show the party even weakening a bit. This goes to show that the public is still not trusting Ehud Barak with anything but national security.
Shas and Yahadut Hatorah, the two orthodox parties, are very stable in the polls, but one has to remember that Shas usually over-performs in the elections.
The Arab Balad party is in real danger of not passing the 2 percent minimum threshold. It’s also more than probable that the two environmental parties (“The Green Movement” and “The Greens”) won’t enter the Knesset. Their campaign has been hurt by the war, but still, if they ran together, they would have gotten in. If Balad does stay out of the Knesset, that means that the Center-Left Coalition has lost up to five seats because of parties not passing the minimum threshold.
we have 5 new polls in the last couple of days. We will probably have more tomorrow, and I’ll update the table as soon as possible.
The 30 MKs result for the Likud in “Israel Hayom”’s poll seems a bit too high, and so does the 20-21 for Liberman in the Globes poll. All the rest of the results make sense. Liberman’s “Israel Beitenu” party is still gaining ground, while the Likud is stable around 27 for some time. The Right-Orthodox block keeps a 10-12 MKs advantage over the Left-Center block (*). That means Netanyahu is our next PM.
Balad party is in real danger of not getting into the Knesset, while Hadash is getting somewhat stronger. On the Right, “Habait Hayehudi” should be a bit worried as well.
Five more days to go. Here are the numbers (click on the table to see it in full size).
Exactly a week to the election, one thing is clear: Netanyahu will be Israel’s next PM. All polls indicate a 10 Mks or more lead for his Right-Orthodox block over Tzipi Livni’s Left-Center block (*).
But that’s all the good news Netanyahu is going to get. It is clear that the recent strengthening of Avigdor Liberman’s “Israel Beitenu” Party came at the Likud’s expense. Our average show the Likud with 26.7 MKs (it had more than 30 a few weeks ago) and Liberman with 17.3. This doesn’t hurt the Right block, but it will make life much harder for Netanyahu after the election. So far the Likud has been very careful not to start campaigning against Liberman. It will be interesting to see whether the latest numbers will change Netanyahu’s mind. UPDATE: They did. Netanyahu started going after Liberman.
The polls are very inconsistent when it doesn’t come to the four big parties (Meretz has 4 Mks on Channel 1 poll and 8 on Globes), so we might have a few surprises there.
The outcome of the election will also be affected by the number of parties not crossing the two percent threshold. As I explained here, this problem mainly concerns the Left-Center block, which has three parties in danger: Balad, the Greens and Gil, the Senior citizens’ party. Habait Hayehudi, the right-wing religious party, is also at some risk, but I believe they will get there.
Hadash (Democratic Front for Peace and Equality, חד”ש: חזית דמוקרטית לשלום ולשוויון) is the only party that truly opposes violence as a mean to change the political reality (on all sides), and is committed to bringing a lasting peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Hadash is the only real Arab-Israeli party. There are none-Jews on other parties, but Hadash is the only one that has an equal partnership between Arabs and Jews on every level of the party. Since racism and segregation are the biggest threats to the Israeli democracy these days, Hadash’s model is more important than ever. It sees Israel as the multi-cultural society that it is, and pushes forward for it to be a country where the wishes, hopes and claims of different groups will be negotiated through the democratic system.