Netanyahu Goes Left? Only in Haaretz

Posted: February 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, In the News | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

I woke up late this Saturday morning, only to find Netanyahu droped a bomb during his first interview since the elections (to “The Washington Post”, of all places). As reported in the main headline of Harretz’s Hebrew web site, Netanyhu told WP that “in principle, I believe in two-states for two people”.

Benjamin Netanyahu supporting a Palestinian state? Wow.

After all, his objection to the idea was Livni’s reason not to enter his government, even when offered complete partnership. Is it a new spin, intended to cause tension within “Kadima” and force Livni into the coalition? And what will his partners on the right say? Could we be headed for a Netanyahu-Liberman-Livni coalition? No doubt, this could change everything.

But after a couple of hours, when I was getting ready to write a post on the matter, a funny thing happened: the headline changed. It no longer said that Netanyahu accepts the two-state solution; just that he declares that “(the) Palestinians should govern their own lives”. No big news there. It was even stated that the intended PM was careful not to mention the “two-state solution”, which, if you read the WP interview, is true. Netanyahu didn’t say anything new.

Here is the screen shot of the article after the headline was changed (click on the picture to see it in full size). It now says “Netanyahu: Palestinians should govern themselves”. But those of you who read Hebrew can notice the browser’s headline still shows the old version: Netanyahu: “in principle, believes in two-states for two people”.


What happened here?

The first option is that someone in Haaretz noticed that they took Netanyahu’s words out of context, and fixed the headline. But there could be another option: that they got a call from one of Netanyahu’s people, complaining that he didn’t say those words, and after re-checking the facts, they corrected the headline. In that case – which is very probable from my experience in the way the media works, especially on Saturday mornings – it is clear that Netanyahu is most afraid to lose his majority on the right. He will give Kadima any cabinet post they want, but won’t make the one statement that can force Livni into the government. So it’s clear we are headed to a narrow right-wing government.

And here is the real conspiracy theory: what if it was one of Livni’s people who called Haaretz to complain about the headline?

Bibi Goes to the Right

Posted: February 25th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It seems more and more likely that we will have a narrow right-wing government. Tzipi Livni’s recent statements against joining Benjamin Netanyahu’s government were so clear, that they didn’t leave much room for future changes. Even if she decides to join him in the next few weeks, she will need a really good reason, or she will be seen as the worst flip-flopper in ages.

Livni probably estimates her number 2, Shaul Mofaz, who wants badly to join the government, won’t be able to make any move against her for the time being. Mofaz is not in a position to threaten Livni, nor to leave Kadima with some of his supporters and re-join the Likud.

As for Netanyahu, it looks as though he got the massage. Bibi started negotiations with his future right-wing partners, and that means he all but gave up on the “national unity” idea. After he allocates cabinet positions and sign agreements with the radical right, he won’t have much to offer Kadima or Labor.

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Why do I Support a Right Wing Government

Posted: February 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, In the News, The Left, The Right, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

This blog is written from the Left. I try to describe events in the most objective way, but I don’t hide my views. I believe that our first political obligations as Israelis is to do all that we can to end the forty two years old occupation of the West Bank, and to stop the siege on Gaza, which is another form of occupation. I also think that racism is becoming a major problem in Israeli society, and that we must do everything in our power to fight it. These are the principles I see in front of me when I consider which government is best for Israel.

The options range between bad and worse. The parties that advocate a full withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and who are truly committed to democratic values, got three percent of the Jewish vote in the last elections. Three.

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The Bet

Posted: February 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, In the News | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

I just placed a bet against two friends – one is a political reporter, the other a PR man and a campaigner in the last elections – on the outcome of the political negotiations.

The campaigner said we would end up with a “national unity government” (Likud and Kadima together), with Netanyahu as PM.

I bet on a Right-Orthodox coalition, without Kadima (Netanyahu as PM).

The reporter said we are heading for a “rotation government”: Netanyahu as PM in the first two years, and Livni in the last two.

Who will drink for free?

What government does the US want?

Posted: February 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Washington Post dives into the Israeli political battle: yesterday’s unusual editorial calls for Livni to let Netanyahu face the international pressure on his own:    

Kadima and Labor, which favor continued talks on a two-state deal with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, would be wise to stay out of a Netanyahu-led government.

On the other hand, there are reports that Obama wants Livni in the government… I think it’s a mistake: a “national unity” government might make things easier for the American president politically, but won’t help the peace process.

Livni’s Big Test

Posted: February 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, In the News | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

livnee_zipiOn Thursday morning, president Shimon Peres is expected to start consultations with party leaders, in order to decide who should be given the task of forming a new government. This is the deadline for Benjamin Netanyahu to secure his Right wing block of 65 MKs.

Once he gets the nomination, the real game will begin. Netanyahu wants to form a broad coalition, with Kadima as a senior partner, balanced by some right wing or religious parties. He believes that a big coalition, with one or more partners from the left, is the key for his political survival. Netanyahu will have to overcome some opposition from within his party, because a big coalition also means less cabinet positions for Likud members, but he will probably be able to pull it off.

That leaves everything in the hands of Tzipi Livni.

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Final Results

Posted: February 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, Polls | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

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.

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Guest Column

Posted: February 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

I was invited by the “Foreign Policy Watch” blog to give my take on the elections. Here it is.

Elections Night

Posted: February 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, In the News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

netanyahu_bibi2:15 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.

3:35 AM. No reason to party. Going to sleep.

MORNING UPDATE: Kdima 28 seats, Likud 27, Israel Beitenu 15, Labor 13, Shas 11, Yahadut Hatorah 5, Hadash 4, Raam 4, Ihud Leumi 4, Meretz 3, Balad 3, Habait Hayehudi 3. 150,000 votes, mainly soldiers’, left to count.

Elections Projection

Posted: February 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: elections, this is personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Here is my projection:

Likud 26

Kadima 25

Israel Beitenu 18

Labor 15

Shas 10

Meretz 6

Yahadut Hatorah 5

Ihud Leumi 4

Bait Yehudi 3

Hadash 4 (*)

Raam 4

Balad, The Greens, The Green Movement, Gil – not passing the 2% threshold.

Right-Orthodox Block: 66 MKs.
Left-Center Block: 54 MKs

(*) This is where I stand.