APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday January 23, 2013
Quote of the day:
"Neither the Prime Minister nor his circle realized that the social protests had not died and that the chickens would come home to roost on election day.**
--Israel Hayom's Mordechai Gilat gives his take on what happened to Likud.**
Front Page News:
- Dramatic achievement for Yair Lapid; Disappointment in Likud
- Hundreds of thousands took advantage of the holiday for shopping and trips
- From Achziv to Beersheva: Journey between polling stations
- Elections are no longer a holiday: Kibbutzes lost their passion
- Israel wanted change: Blow to Netanyahu, surge for Lapid
- Habayit Hayehudi pleased despite expecting more: "Netanyahu slandered us and now is eating the porridge he cooked"
- In Shas: "I am joyous," said Arieh Der'i, despite the modest achievements. "There is no government without us"
- Excitement in Meretz: The Left has returned, big time
- Kadima's failure: The movement likely has been wiped out
- Optimism in Labor: Despite expecting much more, Yachimovich declared: "I will do everything to group forces against Netanyahu"
- In Hatnua, hope to be a significant player: "I returned in order to remain," declared Tzipi Livni
- The Right got weaker, blow to Netanyahu, the big winner: Yair Lapid
- Average exit polls from TV stations: Likud-Beiteinu 33, Yesh Atid 19, Labor 16, Shas 12, Habayit Hayehudi 11
- Meretz doubled its power in Knesset, Zahava Gal-On: "I call on the leaders of the centrist parties to form an obstructive bloc to Bibi and the radical right-wing. This could be an historic opportunity
- Habayit Hayehudi pleased, Naftali Bennett: "We will fight for lowering the cost of living. We will examine whether we will fight for all the people of Israel, like for all the Land of Israel. A house in which every child will know the Torah and will know what is holy"
- Lapid's surprise, disappointment in Likud
- Netanyahu: "I will form a coalition as broad as possible" - PM already called Yair Lapid last night; "Opportunity created to make changes for the benefit of the citizens of Israel"; Lapid: "There is only one way to face the challenges - together. Israel said no to politics of fear and hatred, no to extremism and anti-democracy"
- Results from exit polls at 1:30AM
- Likud-Beiteinu 31-33, Yesh Atid 18-19, Labor 16-17, Shas 11-13, Habayit Hayehudi 11-12, Hatunua 6-7, Meretz 6-7, Yehadut Hatorah 6, Hadash 3-5, Ra'am-Ta'al 3=4, Balad 2
- The wavering: Kadima and Utzma L'Yisrael close to the threshold
- Hundreds of thousands took advantage of the holiday for enjoyment and shopping
Likud suffered a heavy blow and Yair Lapid surprised everyone in an election that had the highest voter turnout in over a decade. Today's Hebrew papers were filled the parties' reactions - and little else was reported on in today's Hebrew papers.
Likud is a weaker party following the elections yesterday and so is its leader, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The papers based their stories on the exit polls that came out last night at 10PM, before all the ballots were counted. But the difference this morning is minimal and the bottom line is that while Likud-Beiteinu remains the largest faction, with 31 mandates, it does not have the weight it had before, when Likud alone had 27 mandates. Here are the numbers after 99% of the votes were tallied: Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu claimed 31 seats, Yesh Atid 19, Labor 15, Shas 11, Habayit Hayehudi 11, Yehadut Hatorah 7, Hatnuah 6, Meretz 6, Ra'am-Ta'al 5, Balad 3, and Kadima likely to win 2 seats.
Netanayhu wasted no time in starting to form the next governing coalition and told Lapid that the election results are an opportunity for change. Netanyahu also outlined a five-point plan for the new government in a speech he gave after the exit polls were released. The five points are: security, fiscal responsibility, achieving a peace agreement with the Palestinians, ultra-Orthodox draft (referred to as 'sharing the burden in society') and cutting the cost of living and housing prices.
The challenge now will be forming a coalition. Netanyahu said, "We need to form the broadest coalition possible" and Lapid also said Israel needed a government of moderates from the Left and Right. But that will be almost mission impossible because of the conflicting ideologies of the parties left and right of Likud-Beiteinu.
He could choose to make a coalition of just the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox, but the blocs are even with the centrist, left-wing and Arab parties having 60 seats and the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox having 60 seats.
Yachimovich, however, insisted that a political upset is possible and said there could be the possibility of forming an alternative government to the Netanyahu government. Labor increased its mandates, but did not do as well as expected. Labor's #2, Isaac Herzog, criticized Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni for taking votes away from Labor. Livni and Meretz's Chairwoman, Zahava Gal-On, agreed. Livni said it was time to put rivalries aside and strive to bolster a Left-Center bloc in Knesset. And Galon, who leads the only leftist and Zionist party, called on Lapid, Livni and Yachimovich to reject any offer from Netanyahu to form a government. Meretz doubled its power with six mandates.
Nevertheless, Peres will likely choose Netanyahu to form the next government, Israel Hayom reported. He will undergo a marathon of negotiations to determine the most viable candidate to form a coalition. Likud, meanwhile, was shocked as voters moved to the left and centerOne minister used the term 'crash' to describe the party's trajectory. Israel Hayom writes that the knives have come out in the party after the its disappointing results in the polls.
While voter turnout was the highest in over a decade in the general public, it was low among the Arab voters. Ra'am-Ta'al Chairman, MK Ahmad Tibi said it was a 'missed opportunity.' Shas was relieved by its results and Chairman Eli Yishai vowed a coalition will have to include Shas, which will demand to keep the Interior Ministry portfolio.
The other surprise was that Habayit Hayehudi did not fare as well as expected. Party Chairman Naftali Bennett declared that the election results mean that "our enemies will know that you do not mess with the State of Israel" [although he did not explain why. -OH] He also said that his party built a home "for those who love the IDF and will not allow its fighters to be called war criminals.' Bennett, Israel Hayom reported, also looked to mend ties after a bruising battle with Likud.
- Britain: Israel's next government must understand two-state solution is almost dead - Foreign Secretary Hague condemns settlement expansion, says EU and U.S. still need to establish 'incentives and disincentives' regarding further negotiations. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Habayit Hayehudi's Bennett looks poised to win English-speaking stronghold - On Election Day, voters in Hashmonaim just over the Green Line overwhelmingly voice their support for the right-wing religious Zionist party Habayit Hayehudi. (Haaretz)
- Washington Post to Obama: Welcome Netanyahu's re-election, urge him to form centrist government - The Post calls on both leaders to 'reset their relationship' as they begin new terms. (Haaretz)
- Kibbutzim no longer bitten by Israel's political bug' - We did our part, now we're no longer needed,' says campaign old-timer. (Haaretz)
- For whom Israel's business 'who's who' is voting - Some like Likud-Beiteinu for the stability, some want change, and some are dismayed by the discrepancy between words and deeds. (Haaretz)
- Voter turnout highest in a decade - Some 3.8 million Israelis, 66.6 percent of eligible voters, cast their ballots in Tuesday's election, according to Central Elections Committee. Eighty percent of soldiers voted, either at their bases or at civilian polling stations. (Israel Hayom)
- On Election Day, Israelis vote with their wallets - Not even the greatest Israeli consumer holidays, like Passover and Rosh Hashanah, came even close to the streams of shoppers that flowed into cafes, clothing stores, supermarkets and movie theaters during Israel's elections on Tuesday. (Haaretz and Ynet)
- New immigrants thrilled to cast ballots in Israel, despite 'primitive' voting mechanism - First-time voters shocked by un-Israeli vibe at polling stations, being met with calm scenes and a distinctly non-high-tech approach. (Haaretz)
- High voter turnout attributed to weather, Facebook - Professor says campaign urging Israelis to vote 'motivated people,' while social protest, despite its failure, proved that 'it is possible to unite and express an opinion.' (Ynet)
- Elbit Systems to sell UAV to US Army - Subsidiary of Israeli defense electronics manufacturer selected for award to provide US Army with Skylark I-LE Block II, a long-range Small Unmanned Aircraft System with capabilities normally associated with larger class unmanned system. (Ynet)
- Israel ranks 7th in innovation - Jewish state climbs three places in GE Global Innovation Barometer, preceding most Western countries. US ranks first, followed by Germany and China. (Ynet)
- Russia to evacuate citizens from Syria - Moscow sending two planes to Lebanon to evacuate 100 citizens from Syria in possible sign it may be preparing for Assad's defeat. (Agencies, Ynet)
- Iran's president scoffs at Western sanctions' - Don't buy our oil? To hell with you,' Ahmadinejad says in remarks aimed at West; oil embargo won't stop nuclear program, he adds. (Agencies, Ynet)
New king is crowned: Yair Lapid (Yossi Verter, Haaretz) Netanyahu will retain his job, but under tougher conditions, with a less comfortable coalition and a party whose discontent will only grow; it's hard to believe that Time magazine will once again crown him 'King Bibi.'
Lack of confidence (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth) "Had Netanyahu not saved himself by joining the Likud with Yisrael Beytenu, yesterday we would have seen the ouster of a prime minister the likes of which we have not seen here since Netanyahu was sent packing in 1999...At best, he finished the elections as a weak prime minister, the structure of whose coalition will depend on the goodwill of the biggest winner in these elections, Yair Lapid, and with a diluted and shrunken Likud that, according to the results of the exit polls, lost more than 25% of its strength..."
Could Peres opt for (Amir Oren, Haaretz) Yair Lapid to form Israel's next coalition?Seventeen years after Netanyahu defeated him in the first direct election of a prime minister, Peres, now the president, will be an important partner in solving the riddle of Netanyahu's political future.
Man of the past (Haaretz Editorial) The Knesset election did not end with a clear decision. Instead, a direction for the future, ahead of the next election, is emerging.
Lapid is the key (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Likud-Beytenu and Yesh Atid could form the main axis of the next government, with other parties brought onboard.
What Israelis really want: To be left in peace (Gideon Levy, Haaretz) Israel made a decisive statement regarding what it wants: it wants only to be left alone, a quiet, good life, peaceful and bourgeois, and to hell with all those pesky nagging issues; Lapid epitomizes this attitude.
Back to Israel's political grind (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz) There is nothing new about opportunism, but this time it has become a value in and of itself. We won't get mad at Lapid, Livni or Yacimovich if they join Netanyahu's coalition; we expect it. We'll ridicule them if they sell out too cheaply, not for giving up their principles in the first place.
Elections don't interest Arab world (Guy Bechor, Yedioth/Ynet) Middle East countries too busy with Arab Spring chaos to take any real interest in Israeli elections.
Not a make-or-break election (Avi Shilon, Haaretz) Given the current climate in the Middle East, the significance of this round of voting is in laying the foundations for the polls that will take Israel into its 70th year.
Not a political upheaval, just a correction in direction (Amnon Lord, Maariv/NRG Hebrew) "The slogan 'Not with Bibi' worked in reverse this time...Whoever broadcast to the public throughout this election campaign that he would go with Bibi - gained...Lapid and Bennett are Netanyahu's natural partners. Lord wonders if a Likud Beytenu-Yesh Atid-Jewish Home government would be stable..."Between a right-center government and the alternative of a narrow government with the ultra-orthodox, it seems that the public's message is clear. It prefers a right-center government."
The success of Israel's social protest failure (Lev Grinberg, Haaretz) While Tuesday's election was in many ways about the social protests in Israel in 2011, it did not address the most pressing social ills and only perpetuated the false dichotomy between right and left.
Despite everything, Netanyahu (Zalman Shoval, Israel Hayom) He has two options of how best to proceed and needs to choose which is preferable.
Why Netanyahu failed and Lapid surprised (Aluf Benn, Haaretz) Again and again, Netanyahu was photographed at the Western Wall and with IDF soldiers. All this may have looked good on his Facebook page, but it didn't speak to Israelis' hearts. Lapid, on the other hand, adapted his message to voters' interests.
Apocalypse tomorrow (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) In unpredictable Israel, national elections are even more crucial than they appear.
With King Bibi's ship of state sinking in Pyrrhic victory, the sharks begin to circle (Bradley Burston, Haaretz) In the space of a few hours, Netanyahu watched as the American people formally gave their president four more years, and the people of Israel gave their prime minister six more weeks.
Israelis are no fools (Mordechai Gilat, Israel Hayom) Neither the prime minister nor his circle realized that the social protests had not died and that the chickens would come home to roost on election day.
The Israeli occupation is clearer from Hollywood (Shaul Arieli, Haaretz) 'Five Broken Cameras' provides a naked look at the painful results of this ongoing occupation. Some of these results have been inscribed in acts of overt violence, and others on the troubled faces of some of the soldiers forced to "star" in this film.
After elections, big winners have big promises to keep (Raviv Hecht, Haaretz) The hope that was expressed by Israeli voters on Tuesday - for economic stability, for peace, for values - carries with it great responsibility for the election's big winners.
First election takes: Bibi's blunders, Lapid's luster, Bennett's believers - and Obama's revenge (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz) It ain't over till it's over, and it ain't over yet. Netanyahu must await the final tally of the vote, and then start cobbling together a coalition - which may be a mission impossible.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.