Israeli Elections: Latest News & Polls

To follow the latest news and polls related to the March 17 Israeli elections, subscribe to NewsNosh - APN's summary of the Israeli media prepared daily by journalist Orly Halpern in Jerusalem.   Below is a compilation of elections-related materials from the NewsNosh, February 1-present.

News Nosh 03.12.15

Quote of the day:
"Something isn’t going the way it should. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last week should have created a turning point for us and strengthened Likud in the polls. It’s clear that we didn’t achieve the desired outcome.”
--One of many senior figures in Likud who told media that they are afraid Likud will lose the elections.**
Election 2015 Polls:

Elections, elections, elections. The papers were filled with who said what where about whom and it all seemed to come down to either anti-Netanyahu or pro-Netanyahu. With the exception of reports from Israel Hayom, most of the statements were against Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.  And senior Likud members acknowledged that the party may very well lose Tuesday's elections. Meanwhile, a month-old interview of Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog by Maariv’s Ben Caspit is now being (mis-)used by Netanyahu’s campaign management and Israel Hayom against Herzog.
 
**Senior Likud sources told Haaretz and Maariv that Netanyahu may not win the election. Maariv’s Arik Bender also reported that Netanyahu is expected to resign as Likud Chairman if he loses the election, in which case senior Likud members are preparing for the battle over will take his place. “The feeling is that the party lost its support, that Likud is depressed. Senior Likud officials believe that if the party fails to win, Netanyahu will resign and the party will go through a shake-up,” one senior Likudnik said. Ynet reported that Netanyahu’s final campaign convention was cancelled due to fear that not enough people would show up. Instead of the Saturday night convention, Netanyahu will go to the home of the deputy mayor to try to sway local leaders to support him during the elections, Ynet wrote. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said: "Binyamin Netanyahu will no longer be prime minister. It's over.” He told Ynet that the Prime Minister of being detached from reality.
 
What was big news in Maariv and Yedioth (and JPost and Times of Israel) were the statements by former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit at a press conference of the ‘Commanders for the Security of Israel’ forum Wednesday. The former spy chief Shavit said that Netanyahu was to blame for security failures and the worsened relationship with the US. He said he mishandled the Iranian nuclear issue, saying he “has caused damage to the State of Israel and, I am certain, will cause damage in the future as well.”  Speaking to Army Radio before the press conference held with four other former top commanders, Shavit called the assassination of Jihad Mughniyeh in the Syrian Golan Heights in January “stupidity." (Maariv)
 
Ben Caspit called Netanyahu a liar on the front page of today’s Maariv after Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page that Herzog said he would agree to Arab MK Ahmed Tibi being chairman of the sensitive Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. The post has gone viral on social networks. But actually, Caspit points out, at the end the recorded interview from a month ago, Caspit asked Herzog a number of ‘yes or no’ questions. To the question of “MK Ahmed Tibi on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee,” Herzog answered ‘I don't rule out’. Caspit writes that he did not say he wanted him to be chairman and that the law does not prevent Tibi from being on the committee because he is Arab, so even Netanyahu could not say ‘no.’ Moreover, two Arabs have sat on the committee in the past and even if Netanyahu wanted. (Maariv)

  • Left-wing Meretz's new plea to voters: Don't let us get wiped out this election - Party launches new campaign urging undecided voters not to support Zionist Union. (Haaretz
  • Sarah Silverman joins campaign to save leftist Meretz party -  'Every vote counts. If you don't vote, you can't complain,' the Jewish-American actress and comedienne writes. (Haaretz+)
  • Israeli left slams 'Jews only' election app - Perhaps the government hopes to discourage Arab citizens from voting by not offering the app in Arabic, suggests Meretz party chairwoman. [Israel has two official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. – OH] (Haaretz)
  • US senator: OneVoice may have violated tax regulations - Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and House of Representatives member Lee Zeldin send letter to IRS commissioner requesting information regarding the tax-exempt status of OneVoice. OneVoice: Complaints are indicative of pressure the Right is under. (Israel Hayom)
  • Zionist Union platform includes anti-Israel Hayom bill - Zionist Union platform includes similar language to that of proposal seeking to cripple Israel Hayom's operations, under the guise of promoting freedom of the press in Israel. Zionist Union says platform "makes no specific mention of Israel Hayom." (Israel Hayom)
  • Study reveals anti-Netanyahu nature of Yedioth coverage - In the past six months, Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Sima Kadmon has written more than 20 articles on PM Benjamin Netanyahu, all negative, compared to almost entirely positive or neutral coverage of Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon. (Israel Hayom)

Meet the Israeli Jews who will vote for the Arab ticket: Thousands of Israeli Jews, many of them young and educated Tel Avivians, are casting their ballots with the country's perennial underdog. (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+)
For Palestinians, Israel's election offers bleak horizon: With Israeli elections looming less than one week away, Palestinians are left with a sense that no matter who secures a term in office little is going to change for them in the West Bank and Gaza. (Reuters, Ynet)

Letter to the Israeli voter: If you reelect Netanyahu, you risk losing the U.S. (Peter Beinart , Haaretz+) The United States is becoming a different country; one that is increasingly intolerant of Bibi's policies.
How Herzog and the center-left might actually win Israel’s election (Omer Benjakob, Ynet) The chances are small, but recent polls and statements by both Netanyahu and possible kingmaker Lapid indicate the center-left camp led by Herzog might form the next government. 
New Israeli prime minister will have to act fast to clean up diplomatic mess (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) Many of the issues Netanyahu should have been formulating strategies for in 2009 remain unresolved in 2015. A partial list. 
Rightist public may be saddled with leftist government (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The public does not want Herzog as PM, but due to the nature of Israel's electoral system, Netanyahu might lose election.

Who will stop the Israeli settlers? (Akiva Eldar, Haaretz+) Herzog and Livni also bear responsibility for the growth of the settler population in the past decade.

When electioneering meets reality (Haaretz Editorial) With Election Day around the corner, some parties claim credit for a host of accomplishments, with little regard to the facts. 
Israelis, vote for hope. Vote for Zionist Union (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) Herzog and Livni may not be perfect, but they and their party are returning Israel to itself, to its essence, to what it’s supposed to be.

News Nosh 03.11.15

Election 2015 Polls:

Week before election, polls give Zionist Union the lead
Two separate polls, by Channel 2 and the Knesset Channel, give Herzog and Livni's list 3-4 more seats than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party. 

Surprise at the  Ma'ariv's traveling ballot box in Rishon Lezion and Bat Yam: a sweeping victory for the Likud
Netanyahu strong with 28, Zionist camp won 20 seats in second place, followed by Moshe Kahlon, 19, far behind - Yair Lapid with 9 seats and Bennett with only 3.

The National Student Survey: Zionist camp with 41 seats, followed by Meretz with 19 (Maariv)
In the poll sample of the national student union, Zionist Camp swept the elections, Jewish Home won 17 seats, followed by Yesh Atid with 15 seats. Likud got only 10 seats and the "Green Leaf" party won 5 seats.

Two polls show the waning of the boosting effect of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress (see Election Polls above) and Netanyahu declares there is an ‘worldwide’ effort to topple him with six days to go before elections as the papers focused mostly on statements by candidates on election panels.

Also, Maariv reported that Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog said he supports Israeli sovereignty in the settlement blocs. “We need to make confidence-building measures such as freezing the settlements outside of the settlement blocs. I want (Israeli) sovereignty in the large blocs and we need to invest in them. It’s possible to contain 80% of the settlers there,” he said.  His remarks were made a few days after he said: “In any situation and in any agreement, Gush Etzion will remain an inseparable part of Israel, but in order to ensure security and in order to keep the large blocs we need to change direction and take responsibility for our fate.” Yesterday Herzog spoke about the settlements and said: “Between 2009-2014 Israel invested 10 billion shekels in settlements outside of the blocs. We need to decide where the money is going. To the Negev, to youth, to big projects – or to settlements that won’t remain in an agreement.” Maariv did not say where Herzog made the statements.

The former Netanyahu-appointed ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, questioned Netanyahu’s handling of the peace talks and also said Israel must restrict settlement building and create a 'two-state reality.' 
 
Herzog and Oren's statements wouldn't have surprised Moshe Ifergan. The Likud activist representing the party said Netanyahu had fooled the US on his intentions for peace. He described Netanyahu’s 2009 Bar-Ilan speech – in which Netanyahu said he recognized the two-state solution – as “a brilliant way of thwarting [U.S. President Barack] Obama" and explained that Netanyahu intentionally made conditions he knew "the Palestinians would find hard to accept.”

  • Joint List speaker says ISIS crimes inspired by Zionism - Arab party leaders distance themselves from remarks by Raja Za’atra. Zionist Union said in response to Za’atra’s remarks: “We expect the leaders of the Joint List to distance themselves immediately from the scandalous comparison between Israel and ISIS, as well as the statement that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. (Haaretz and Ynet
  • In the name of democracy, (former Military Intel chief) Yadlin walked out on event because of participation of (radical right-wing) Marzel: "I'm not willing to give him a kosher stamp" - Zionist Camp candidate Amos Yadlin left an elections panel at Bar-Ilan University in protest that radical right-wing activist Baruch Marzel from Yachad party was invited. (Maariv, p. 5)
  • Daughter of (deceased Shas spiritual leader) Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: "I fear consequences of extreme right-wing government" - Rebbetzin Adina Bar Shalom expressed her concerns: "The only alternative is two states for two peoples". She said that contrary to Deri, Eli Yishai is not going in the path of her father. (Maariv)
  • Shas doesn’t rule out coalition with Herzog, Deri tells Haaretz readers - Ultra-Orthodox Shas party leader Arye Deri says he favors a broad government but rules out a coalition with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid. (Haaretz+)
  • Deri: "We will not sit with Herzog in a left-wing government"    - Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri said in interview with a religious press: "I declared unequivocally I won't go with Herzog to a left-wing government." He added he wanted Labor Party to be with Shas in the government, but he won't sit with Yair Lapid and Meretz and Herzog can't form a government without them. (Israel Hayom, p. 9)

How to vote strategically: The dilemma facing left-wing voters in Israel (Judy Maltz, Haaretz+) For ditherers, the choice is between Zionist Union and Meretz (for the more conservative), and between Meretz and the Joint List (for the more radical).
Meir Dagan is a true patriot (Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, Yedioth/Ynet) Anyone capable of comparing dock workers and Israel Broadcasting Authority employees to Hamas terrorists is also capable of turning a courageous former Mossad chief into an 'ungrateful leftist' and almost an enemy of Israel.

Which of the two Jewish nations will Israeli voters choose? (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Once, the settlement state begged Israel for legitimacy. Today it is the state within the Green Line that seeks legitimacy from the settlement state. 
Left and Right not mincing words (Eli Sulam, Israel Hayom) Undemocratic, aggressive discourse has trumped the important issues that should take center stage.

What has happened to the Likud? (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) A quick survey of my run-of-the-mill, typical neighborhood shows that there is one prominent cause for the Likud's loss of support, and it is affecting Bennett and Lieberman too.

On March 17, it will be a mitzvah to vote against Netanyahu the Toxic (Bradley Burston, Haaretz+) Nine years into his rule, Benjamin Netanyahu has poisoned his country. Israel is broken and battered and weak with fear. He's taken serious problems, and made them into a miserable nation.

Herzog: I want to unite, while Netanyahu divides: Zionist Union leader, Netanyahu's main contender for the position of prime minister, says citizens of Israel know that whoever wants to change six years of 'nothing' must vote for Zionist Union. (Ynet interview)
WATCH: Netanyahu governments have convinced Israelis peace isn't possible, Meretz MK says
Tamar Zandberg tells Haaretz what concessions Palestinians have already agreed to for a two-state solution and which one obstacle remains. (Haaretz+)
Steinitz: Elements in U.S. 'mobilizing' against Likud, 'delegitimizing' it: In online exchange with Haaretz readers, minister says U.S. has joined Israeli media, Palestinian Authority in 'delegitimizing' ruling party in election campaign. (Haaretz+)

News Nosh 03.10.15

With nothing big happening yesterday, all the Hebrew papers, with the exception of Haaretz, made Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to Mahaneh Yehuda market in Jerusalem the top story. Yedioth and Maariv wrote that his rubbing shoulders with spice and vegetable sellers was a sign of panic in the Likud party, which is trying to 'minimize damage' (Maariv) following some serious election faux pas - such as depicting public employees as terrorists in a campaign video clip - for which Netanyahu apologized. However, Israel Hayom reported on the visit just as Likud would want: shopkeepers fawning over Netanyahu.

  • Israel election updates / MK Tibi: Lieberman is 'Jewish ISIS,' he must be investigated - 7 days to go: Meretz leaders slam Joint List for blocking surplus-vote agreement; Such an agreement could have given the center-left bloc in the elections one or two additional seats in parliament. (Haaretz)
  • Votes from abroad: Israeli expats visit for elections - Israeli citizens living overseas travel home to make their voices heard in elections that many say seem particularly important. (Ynet)
  • Israel election updates / Likud activist calls Obama anti-Semite, then retracts: 'But he has a bad air' - 6 days to go: Moshe Ifergan also called Netanyahu's 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University a 'genius way of dragging Obama along.' (Haaretz
  • No. 36 on the Likud list opposes Netanyahu: "We can not vote for you anymore" - Pinhas Eidan, chairman of the Airport Authority labor union, dispatched a letter to the Prime Minister, addressing the Likud campaign ads comparing state employees to Hamas terrorists: "You must make a direct apology in your name." (Maariv
  • Netanyahu apologizes for campaign ad after union vows not to vote Likud - Likud campaign ad showed 'support group' for those hurt by PM's policy, grouping together Hamas terrorist and labor unions, prompting massive outcry and even threats by unions to vote against PM. (Ynet)
  • John Oliver takes on Israeli election ads - From Netanyahu's ISIS campaign video, to Herzog's voice and Yesh Atid's 3-hour long video - Last Week Tonight pokes fun at Israeli ads. (Ynet)
  • Yedioth Ahronoth's libelous report -- a disgrace to journalism' - Former Likud minister Benny Begin lashes out at Yedioth Ahronoth for publishing an "invented concessions document" -- a document suggesting that in 2013, Netanyahu was willing to make far-reaching concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians. (Israel Hayom)
  • Livni at Bar-Ilan University: "Netanyahu is blind to the danger of a bi-national state” - Former Justice Minister accused the prime minister of unreliable and unclear political conduct: "This is Bibi's swan song, it's time to replace the CD." (Maariv)
  • Poll: 53% of public opposes unity government - Army Radio survey finds 66% of right-wing voters, 56% of left-wing voters oppose national unity government involving Likud, Zionist Union. President Reuven Rivlin says in the absence of clear-cut endorsement for next PM he will promote unity government. (Israel Hayom)
  • Widow responds to column accusing her in her husband's death: "They hurt the memory of Dolev" - Michal Kesten-Keidar, the widow of Lt. Col. Dolev Keidar, responded to the scathing words of military commentator of Arutz 7, Hagai Haverman, which followed her participation in the rally to replace the government. Chairman of the IDF Widows and Orphans Organization, Nava Shoham-Solan: "He stabbed the widow and twisted the knife." (Maariv

Netanyahu shows rightist colors with latest policy flip-flop (Barak Ravid, Haaretz+) The serial retractor of declarations denied his Bar-Ilan statement supporting two-states-for-two-peoples. Now Likud denies his denial. It's all election spin. 

How did election campaign get so ugly? (Sima Kadmon, Yedioth/Ynet) By mixing former Mossad chief Meir Dagan's illness with politics, Likud MK Ofir Akunis crossed all limits of insensitivity and vulgarity.  

Exorcising Netanyahu out of office (Amir Oren, Haaretz+) The election pits Bibi vs. Netanyahu, Groucho Marx against the face looking out at him from the mirror, with defeat on the way for both candidates. 
Mozes, the would-be backroom prime minister (Miri Eden, Israel Hayom) This is how the Noni machine works: report objectively only when the people involved are the right people, and only if it helps them win the premiership or receive the finance portfolio. 
Will Herzog be the leader that lifts the Labor Party curse? (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Labor is too toxic, too weighed down by history, too unimaginative to reinvent itself. If it wins next week, it will be by default.
Between amulet kissers and 'Hamasniks,' election campaign going downhill (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Artist Yair Garbuz turned Likud voters into illiterate mezuzah kissers, and Prime Minister Netanyahu linked them to Hamas. But while Garbuz represents himself, Netanyahu is supposed to be the responsible adult. And time and again, he fails.
Israel's coalition system is a dictatorship of the minority (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) The large number of parties that make up the next government will force the prime minister to endorse contradictory principles that stoke frustration and stagnation. 
Anything goes in bid to topple Likud (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) Yedioth's recent lies are the latest salvo in the enormous effort to kick out the Right and install a left-wing government.

Bennett hurts the Right (Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) It is unfortunate that the right-wing bloc keeps sabotaging its ability to win elections.

Bibi fatigue: Israelis are sick of Netanyahu, but can’t agree on his replacement (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz+) The tide may be turning against Netanyahu, but it is turning in many directions and the Israeli public just can't agree on a suitable alternative.
Islamists have defeated coexistence (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Joint Arab list's refusal to sign vote-sharing agreement with Israel's most leftist party proves that its leaders' real goal is not equality for Arabs.
Israelis want a different political agenda (Uzi Baram, Haaretz+) Netanyahu compares himself with Winston Churchill. But Churchill was defeated in the 1945 election because the people wanted a leader with a different agenda.
The Right must not infight (Dr. Haim Misgav, Israel Hayom) If leaders of Right do not get along, Left could come to power.

Kahlon responds to Haaretz readers: I support 2-state solution, but no point now: 'No partner' at the moment, leader of Kulanu party, Moshe Kahlon, tells Haaretz; Kulanu head distances himself from Likud's disavowal of Bar-Ilan speech. (Haaretz+)
 Herzog: I want to unite, while Netanyahu divides: Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu's main contender for the position of prime minister, says citizens of Israel know that whoever wants to change six years of 'nothing' must vote for Zionist Union. (Ynet)

News Nosh 03.09.15

Israel Hayom and Yedioth continued to battle it out ahead of elections – but differently. Yedioth gave headlines to Israelis who complained about Likud election video clips and about the Likud personal attack on former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who was the keynote speaker at the anti-Netanyahu rally Saturday night. It downplayed the speech at the rally by artist Yair Garboz, who slighted “amulet kissers” – i.e. Jews originating from Arab countries. Israel Hayom continued to make personal attacks – on Yedioth publisher Noni Mozes, who it accused today of wanting to be the behind-the-scenes prime minister, on Yedioth reporter Nahum Barnea, who exposed the document showing that Netanyahu had agreed to a two-state solution based along the ’67 lines and on Yedioth in general for “trying to divide the right-wing” and “bring the fall of the Likud.”

  •  **Journalist against Operation Protective Edge widow: “She killed her husband and cries that she’s a widow" - (Right-wing settler) reporter of ‘Arutz Sheva’, Hagai Huberman wrote a column against Michal Kesten-Keidar, widow of Lt. Col. Dolev Keidar. (The widow addressed the anti-Netanyahu rally Saturday calling on Israelis to vote for someone who will bring peace and end bloodshed.) (Maariv and Times of Israel)
  • **Hagai Huberman: "I won’t retract what I wrote to the widow of Dolev Keidar" - Uproar over the statements of Channel 7, openly criticized Michal Kesten: "Maybe I was wrong in my style, but the content was correct." (Maariv)
  • Defense Min. Ya'alon: 'English speakers' trying to topple Netanyahu - Defense minister echoes Netanyahu's claim that a coalition of forces is trying to get out the vote among leftists and Arabs. (Haaretz+)
  • If no candidate receives a majority - Rivlin will call for unity government - President met at his residence with a classified unit and said the government has to take care to change the system of government: "At least we need to find a way of preventing us from turning into Italy." (Maariv
  • Zionist Camp optimistic: Reserving Rabin Square for election night - Head of logistics contacted Tel Aviv Municipality in case Herzog forms the government. Zionist Camp members will watch the poll sample results at the drive-in hall. "If it turns out we won we shall all spontaneously celebrate at Rabin Square." (Maariv
  • Zionist Camp unveils party platform: Mending ties with US, reducing cost of living - Herzog sets three mains goals for first 100 days in office: Implementing economic plan, dealing with housing crisis, presenting peace initiative to Arab League. (Ynet)
  • Haredi activists blast Yishai for joining radical rightist Marzel - A group of ultra-Orthodox activists launched a campaign last week attacking Eli Yishai's Yahad party for joining forces with politicians from the far right. (Haaretz)

'Concession document' is a beacon in the dark (Ariela Ringel-Hoffman, Yedioth/Ynet) If this were a sane, less violent election campaign, Netanyahu's secret peace offer could have actually been seen as a sign that not all hope is lost.

The left is not doing Israeli Arabs any favors (Jack Khoury, Haaretz+) The Joint List is resuscitating Israeli-Arab interest in the electoral process and doesn’t deserve any patronizing sneers from Meretz.
The Likud is escaping a real debate (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Ad comparing dock workers to Hamas is just another way for Israel's ruling party to avoid dealing with state's fundamental problems.  Secret document reveals Netanyahu's lack of credibility (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) If it's legitimate to reveal the gap between Obama's rhetoric on Iran and the concessions Kerry made on his behalf, it's legitimate to reveal the gap between the prime minister's rhetoric and the major concessions he offered the Palestinians.  

Yedioth's bid to divide the Right (Haim Shine, Israel Hayom) With Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog failing to take off, Yedioth Ahronoth is in distress.

A transparent anti-Likud plot (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) The content of the "concessions document" and the motives guiding the media outlet that published it prove that it is false.

In special interview to Ari Shavit, Herzog declares: I am going to form next government
Zionist Union’s co-chair says he has spent his life surprising people who have written him off. Can he pull off the biggest shock of all and become Israel’s next premier? (Haaretz+)

News Nosh 03.08.15

At a time when polls show that Israeli voters are more polar than ever – either right-wing or left-wing, Netanyahu's secret peace concessions to the Palestinians from August 2013, revealed by Yedioth’s Nahum Barnea, is shaking up the political establishment ahead of elections. The right-wing leaders such as Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman are saying that the document proves that Netanyahu is ‘more left-wing than the left’ and that he will ‘return to the mistakes of the Gaza withdrawal.’ Center-left leader from the Zionist Camp, Tzipi Livni, said it shows why neither the Americans nor the Palestinians trust NetanyahuNetanyahu denied the deal, saying the report was a pile of nonsense orchestrated by Yedioth’s publisher, Noni Mozes. Interestingly, Israel Hayom, the Netanyahu mouthpiece, also interviewed Dennis Ross, the US diplomat who mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, who said that Netanyahu never agreed to the '67 borders or the division of Jerusalem.

Maariv’s Ben Caspit writes that Netanyahu didn’t lie when he denied. He really never intended on signing the agreement, he was just buying time. “…in Netanyahu’s narrow point of view, he didn’t make any concessions,” writes Caspit. “In order to understand this, one must understand Netanyahu. He is here to pass the time, to fool everyone, to bluff, to agree and to regret, to send envoys that will continue to negotiate till the last second, and then disappear, or change his mind, or invent something else. That’s how he signed the Wye Plantation Agreement and then returned to Israel and blew it up. That’s how he conducted the negotiations to return the Golan Heights with Assad, the father and with Assad, the son. In both cases, (ask Ron Lauder), he agreed to withdraw from the Golan and in both cases he changed his mind. That’s how he sent President Peres to negotiations with [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen. Peres also was equipped with the same agreements for exactly the same understandings, and then, a moment before he signed with Abu Mazen in Amman, Bibi changed his mind. And so it was this time. That’s his thing. He just lies to them. He takes them for a trip to the bar and then disappears.”

**Former Mossad chief Dagan made headlines in a speech that was considered powerful but also moving. Speaking to 50-80,000 Israelis who showed up at Rabin Square for a rally calling for a change to Netanyahu, Dagan teared up as he spoke saying he had no other interests except that his children and grandchildren could continue living here, but that Netanyahu’s leadership was Israel’s biggest threat. In it’s coverage of the anti-Netanyahu rally, Israel Hayom focused on the Likud statement that Dagan’s speech harmed national security and accused him of ‘political moves.'

In another very moving speech, Michal Kesten-Keidar, the widow of an officer killed in Operation Protective Edge, shared her tale of loss and called on Israelis to vote for someone who will try to prevent war. "No one is talking about the diplomatic process or peace agreements anymore," she said. "An entire election campaign is being run without mentioning the blood that was spilled here this summer. Maybe it's too scary. Too difficult. But I, last summer, lost the love of my life to war, and I have come here to ask you – when you go to the ballot box, vote for those who will try to prevent the next war."

Israeli defense candidates refrain from going on offensive over Gaza (Amos Harel, Haaretz+) Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Amos Yadlin and Yoav Galant all recognize that might is not necessarily right when it comes to Gaza. 

Spin bomb: When Americans present the bill, Netanyahu won’t be there (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The speech in Congress was a brilliant cynical move by Netanyahu, who took control of the media agenda. In reality it was futile. Also: who won’t I vote for in these elections: the Arabs, the ultra-Orthodox, Bibi Netanyahu, Meretz, Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) because of his religious ideology. If you're right-wing, vote Lieberman. If you're social justice oriented, vote Kahlon. I can’t do it this time. I’m left with Lapid and Herzog. I have a feeling that I'll stay with this dilemma until the last minute.

To win, Herzog must convince Israelis that peace, prosperity are intertwined (Zeev Sternhell, Haaretz+) Voters need to be made to realize that if not for the settlements, the huge funding that flows to the territories would instead be invested in education and welfare. 

Why Israel's Jews must vote for the Arab list (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Those who hesitate because Joint List is an 'Arab party' should remember the role that Jews played in the African National Congress during the apartheid era. 

The morning after: The death of Israel's true left (Yossi Sarid, Haaretz+) In their effort to bring Isaac Herzog to power, Meretz's traditional supporters may deal a fatal blow to both him and their own party. 

 News Nosh 03.06.15 - special election polls review from Israel

Quote of the day: "This is a 'Just not Bibi' bloc and it has been expanding recently.”

--Maariv's Ben Caspit writes that the parties that could form a government led by Opposition leader Isaac Herzog are not necessarily left-wing.**

Election 2015 Polls:

Ten days till Israeli elections and despite the hope in Likud that Israeli Prime Minister’s speech to Congress would rake in many more seats for the party, the speech did not put Likud ahead of Zionist Camp. Polls taken since the speech show Zionist Camp leading or the two parties tying.

Channel 1 poll released Thursday and the Walla poll released today gave both the leading parties 24 mandates, while the Israel Hayom poll released today, the Reshet Bet radio station poll released Thursday and the Channel 10 poll released Wednesday gave them 23 each. The Channel 2 poll published Wednesday gave Likud an extra mandate compared to a previous poll, but Zionist Union was still ahead with one mandate at 24.
 
The Maariv poll published today gave 24 seats to the Zionist Camp and 22 to Likud. Like the Israel Hayom poll, it showed Yesh Atid strengthened, now tying with the Joint Arab List at 13 seats. Habayit Hayehdui rose one mandate to 12. Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party and Shas aren’t moving, with 8 and 7, respectively. Meretz rose one to 6 and Lieberman has 5. And Netanyahu’s personal support has improved.
 
The Maariv poll also found that Netanyahu's speech increased the likelihood to vote Likud among 21% of respondents, and reduced the likelihood among 10%. It is important to remember, Maariv noted, that the vast majority of those who said that the likelihood they would vote for Likud grew, belong to the Likud or to the right-wing.

Netanyahu is still the favorite to be Prime Minister. In terms of actual votes, the Maariv poll found that a total of 46% wanted Netanyahu as Prime Minister and 44% don’t want him, with 10% undecided. Today’s Israel Hayom poll shows that 35% want Netanyahu and 18% want Herzog, with another 18% dividing between other leaders, no more than 5% each. In the Channel 2 poll, 47% said they would vote Netanyahu, 28% for Herzog and 25% remained undecided. The Channel 10 poll, however, gave Netanyahu 44% to Herzog's 35%, with 21% undecided.
 
Maariv also asked people whether they thought Netanyahu took advantage of the Congress speech to get more votes. The answer was split: 46% said yes and 46% said no. When those polled were asked whether they thought the speech harmed relations with the US, 51% said no and 37% said yes.
 
The Maariv poll noted that the Israeli public is becoming increasingly polarized. Some 54% of the public opposes a unity government between the Zionist Camp and the Likud after elections and only 28% support it. Interestingly, the Israel Hayom poll found that 44% of Israelis consider themselves right-wing, 24% ‘center,’ 15% as left-wing and 17% either don’t know or refuse to say.

**Aharon Lapidot writes in Israel Hayom that his paper’s poll results “clearly show the complicated division of powers in Israeli politics, at this moment: no less than five parties win a double-digit number of mandates, a reality that will make it very difficult for any potential prime minister to form (a government).” Maariv’s top political commentator Ben Caspit writes in today’s paper that “these elections are completely open. It is important to remember that if one of the smaller parties remains outside the Knesset (Meretz or Yachad, for example), it will dramatically affect the balance between the blocs. Already, according to the current poll, the Zionist Camp, Yesh Atid, the Arabs and Meretz bring together 56 seats. That is a short distance from forming an obstructive bloc of 61 seats in the Knesset. No, this is not a left-wing bloc, because Lapid does not see himself as left. This is a "Just not Bibi" bloc and it has been expanding recently.”
 
However, the bottom line remains the same as last week: it is much easier for Netanyahu to form a coalition than for Herzog.

News Nosh 03.05.15

Polls: Netanyahu's Congress speech boosts Likud, but no game changer
Channel 10 gives both Likud and Zionist Union 23 seats each, while Channel 2 gives Zionist Union a slender lead with 24 seats to Likud's 23. (HaaretzYnet and Maariv)

  • The excitement and adrenalin returned to Shas, but Deri is worried if he'll get sweep in the polls
  • Contacts for new surplus votes agreement in center-left
  • Anti-Arab extremist indicted for assaulting MK Zoabi - Artemi Kazarov, supporter of Kahanist leader Baruch Marzel, allegedly poured bottle of juice on Zoabi at candidates' forum; spokeswoman for Arab Joint List hospitalized with head injuries, Meretz MK elbowed in stomach. (Haaretz+) 
  • Abbas: We welcome Arab Joint List, wish them great success - Israeli diplomats set to cast first ballots in election; Herzog says Netanyahu's Congress address only harms effort to stop Iran; Israeli TV swamped with political campaign ads. (Haaretz)
  • Before Israel's election, parties loath to talk about cutting defense spending - A 10% reduction in military outlays would free up $1.5 billion for civilian use. (Haaretz+)
  • Election ad gaffe may cost Yisrael Beiteinu hundreds of thousands of dollars - Right-wing party displayed picture it claimed to belong to arch-terrorist, but it turned out to be Arab-Israeli lawyer. (Haaretz)
  • March Madness: Israeli TV flooded with election propaganda clips - WATCH: Zionist Camp's clip scoffs at Netanyahu's Congress speech; Likud's video invokes Begin's 1981 decision to bomb Iraq's nuclear reactor; Joint List turns musical to express solidarity. (Haaretz+)
  • **Netanyahu's speech remix: Sit up, sit down - Ynet exclusive: Israel's king of remix Noy Aloooshe takes on Netanyahu's address to US Congress, with demands of GOP to remember three things: Iran, Iran and Iran. (Ynet)

The Arab and Jewish undecided guests who arrived at the home of Joint Arab List Chairman Ayman Oudeh sat in a sort of bi-national shyness that caused the owner of the home to stand up and urge them to take from the full breakfast he laid out for them. But a few days after the televised political debate, they only see Oudeh as a TV star and feel even shyer. One of the voters, Matan, 33, voted Hadash in the last elections and expressed the thoughts of some of those present. "The things you say really move me, but now that you are united with the other Arab parties I am in a dilemma. I don't see (MK Ahmed) Tibi and (MK Jamal) Zahalka as representing me or the Arabs." (Merav Betito, Yedioth, p. 8)

Let’s keep Israel safe for the political fringes (Haaretz Editorial) Right-wingers’ assault on Knesset members at a panel discussion this week was an act worthy of fascists. 
Netanyahu's top priority is elections, not Iran (Nahum Barnea, Yedioth/Ynet) Instead of garnering the Democratic members' support in order to torpedo the Iranian nuclear deal, the prime minister's Congress speech only served to alienate them.

Two good reasons for all Israelis to vote for the Joint List of Arab parties (Shlomo Sand, Haaretz+) A vote for this party could be a decisive event in Israel’s short history. 

News Nosh 03.04.15

Maariv’s traveling poll: Zionist Camp gets 29% support, Likud 19% and Meretz only 2%
Center-left bloc wins majority in the cities of Ramat Hasharon and Ra'anana. Surprising was the low support rate for Meretz in the two cities where the center-left traditionally has support. Poll taken before Netanyahu's speech. (Maariv)

  • MK Haneen Zoabi attacked at political panel - Far-right activists rioted, storming the stage at Ramat Gan college event (on women in politics) in which Zoabi, several other female MKs participated. A Baruch Marzel activist threw a drinkon Zoabi and another hit Zoabi’s communications advisor on the head with a flag pole for which she was hospitalized. (HaaretzMaariv and Ynet including videos) Maariv’s wandering election poll in the Sharon region: Herzog’s revolution
  • Herzog: "Gush Etzion will remain an integral part of the State of Israel in any peace agreement" - In a tour Tuesday of Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank, Chairman of the Zionist Camp winked to the right-wing, but stressed: "I will ignite the peace process with the Palestinians. We must advance a regional arrangement and the two-state solution." (Maariv)

I went, I saw, I was shocked: Maariv political affairs correspondent Dana Somberg writes about the Zoabi incident at the women elections conference (Dana Somberg, Maariv) Instead of an academic discussion on representation of women in politics, women's rights and women's leadership, we got the video clip of the ‘Chocolate flight’ (Israeli passengers attacking steward who wouldn’t sell them chocolate without VAT) and the ‘Eilat Hotel’ clip (Israeli guests attack hotel workers for not letting them park in handicapped spot) on election campaign steroids.

Netanyahu's Congress speech was much ado about nothing (Amir Oren, Haaretz+) Netanyahu seemed like he was making plans for the day after his defeat - not a 'time-out' from politics like the one that followed his 1999 loss, but a bid to become defense minister in Isaac Herzog’s government. 

Is this Netanyahu's last hurrah in Washington? (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) The aim of the prime minister's controversial trip to Washington is to ensure that next time in town, he’ll be a White House guest, not a private citizen. 

Two Likud seats and an ego boost (Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet) Netanyahu's speech to Congress will not achieve any of the goals he sought, but salvation for Netanyahu may come in the form of Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei.

Netanyahu hopes to ride rhetoric to electoral victory (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) And two weeks before an election, opposition leader Isaac Herzog loses with his logical but lukewarm response.

News Nosh 03.03.15

  • Lapid backtracks: Does not promise to support head of largest party after elections
  • Obama: Netanyau erred when he arrived at Congress two weeks before elections
  • Joint Arab List head accused of inciting against Arab IDF soldiers - Attorney Hor Uriel Nizri [from right-wing Honenu legal aid organization - OH] wants Aiman Ouda investigated for his statements that Israeli Arabs who serve in IDF are "pathetic."  Ouda says that his party supports volunteer service, but opposes "making civil rights conditional upon volunteering." (Israel Hayom)

Netanyahu's colossal failure as prime minister (Shimon Shiffer, Yedioth/Ynet) Likud leader has facilitated Iran becoming nuclear threshold state under umbrella of international legitimacy, and destroyed relationship with US that is so critical to our security.

News Nosh 03.02.15

Opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog and co-leader of the Zionist Camp said Israeli leaders needed to consider the impact of their actions on Diaspora Jews because the government’s responsibilities weren’t limited to protecting and defending the citizens of Israel. The Zionist Camp also said Netanyahu was destroying ties with the US for the sake of few votes.

An existential threat called Ayman Odeh (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz+) The Joint List head represents a new stage in the struggle of the Arab population in Israel, which today seeks to be a major force in determining the country’s future. 

A premier with 20-something seats does not represent the people's will (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) It will be obscene if, the day after the election, Herzog – heading a slate of 20-something MKs – declares that the people have spoken. And it will be truly obscene if Netanyahu claims that the people want him to continue governing.

News Nosh 03.01.15

  • Herzog: Netanyahu's government spent billions on settlements instead of solving housing crisis - Zionist Union leader and Netanyahu's main rival lashes out at prime minister, calls on him not to speak to Congress in March 3. (Haaretz+)
  • Ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan to headline anti-Netanyahu rally - Dagan, who called Netanyahu's policies 'destructive to the future and security of Israel,' will speak at rally demanding regime change at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. (Haaretz+)
  • For Habayit Hayehudi, an independent Palestine amounts to 'suicide' for Israel - Leader Naftali Bennett's alternative? 'Autonomy on steroids' for the Palestinians – in 40% of the West Bank. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Party leaders lock horns on election eve debate - Despite absence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Labor-Hatnuah leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni from Channel 2 debate, panel proves rife with drama. Heads of eight parties trade barbs over agendas, policies, affiliations and vision. (Israel Hayom)
  • (Far-right settler) Zionist rabbis switch from Naftali Bennett to Eli Yishai - Signatories of public letter announcing support of ultra-right party include rabbis Dov Lior, Zvi Tau, and Shlomo Aviner, among others. (Haaretz+) 
  • Netanyahu says he won't form government with Zionist Union - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells ultra-Orthodox radio station that decision to exclude haredim from previous government was forced upon him. PM says Tzipi Livni, Isaac Herzog "learned nothing" from disengagement, want to divide Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)
  • Protest erupts as Herzog and Livni visit Arab town - Zionist Camp politicians visit majority Arab-populated area of Wadi Ara in Haifa district and met with protests who call center-left group 'radical right wing' and accused them of murdering children in Gaza. (Ynet)

Government abandoned Israel's weak populations (Sever Plocker, Yedioth/Ynet) The second and third Netanyahu governments are exclusively responsible for the total failure to help families from the lower echelons with affordable housing.

**“Netanyahu has caused Israel the most strategic damage on Iran”
In exclusive interview, ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan says he agrees with prime minister on threat posed by nuclear Iran, but warns Netanyahu 'is single-handedly motivating the Americans into rushing to reach an agreement.' (Interviewed by Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer in Yedioth’s Friday newspaper)
Israeli politicians' reactions to the interview with Dagan here.

News Nosh 02.27.15 - special Israeli election polls review

Numbers of the day: 32:14.

--Percentages of votes that Zionist Camp and Likud parties received, respectively, in a poll at a bellwether high school in Israel. 

Election 2015 Polls:

With 17 days to go, the tie is over - for now - and a majority of Israelis plan to vote for the Zionist Camp in the upcoming elections, according to an average of the most recent polls. Both the Haaretz average of the last three polls and the ‘Project 61’ average of the last seven polls (conducted between 24-26 February) put Zionist Camp ahead of Likud. (Note, ‘Project 61’ looks at more polls than Haaretz.) That said, a Haaretz poll this week showed that a fifth of the voters are still undecided.
 
The State Comptroller’s damning housing report pushed the Likud party down in polls. In a Maariv poll taken directly after the Wednesday release of the report, Likud received 23 mandates to Zionist Camp’s 25. Some 41% saw Netanyahu as personally responsible for the mega-jump in housing prices. Nevertheless, it will be easier for Netanyahu to form a government, according to the poll.
 
In the personal aspect, Netanyahu has lost popularity. The Maariv poll found that 50% of the people who said previously that they wanted Netanyahu for another term, no longer do, compared to 45% from a Maariv poll last week. Moreover, more people said they would vote for Likud if it were led by resigned Likud minister Gideon Saar rather than by Netanyahu. Saar would have put Likud even with Zionist Camp at 24 mandates.

The recent polls also show the two major parties are less powerful. If at the beginning of February more people chose either Zionist Camp or Likud, the trend has turned and voters are moving elsewhere, with a sharp rise in Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.
 
Yedioth ran an article this week showing how voting-age high-school students voted in different cities of Israel. Here are some of the interesting results.
Jerusalem Gilo Makif HS: 1. Likud 2. Yesh Atid 3. Yisrael Beiteinu 4. Aleh Yarok 5. Habayit Hayehudi
Tel-Aviv Ironi Gimmel HS: 1. Zionist Camp 2. Yesh Atid 3. Likud 4. Aleh Yarok 5. Meretz
Tel-Aviv Alliance HS: 1. Yesh Atid 2. Zionist Camp 3. Likud 4. Meretz
Haifa Ironi Gimmel HS: 1. Likud 2. Yisrael Beiteinu 3. Habayit Hayehudi 4. Zionist Camp 5. Yesh Atid
Haifa Leo Beck HS: 1. Yesh Atid 2. Zionist Camp 3. Habyit Hayehudi 4. Likud 5. Aleh Yarok
Haifa Chugim HS: 1. Likud 2. Yesh Atid 3. Aleh Yarok 4. Zionist Camp 3. Habayit Hayehudi
Ramat Hasharon Rottberg HS: 1. Yesh Atid 2. Zionist Camp 3. Likud 
Ramat Hasharon Alon HS: 1. Zionist Camp 2. Meretz 3. Yesh Atid
Ramat Gan 1. Zionist Camp 2. Yesh Atid 3. Likud 4. Habayit Hayehudi 5. Meretz
Beersheva Makif Vav HS: 1. Likud 2. Yesh Atid 3. Yisrael Beiteinu 4. Habayit Hayehudi 5. Zionist Camp
Beersheva Eshel Hanasi HS: 1. Zionist Camp 2. Habayit Hayehudi 3. Likud 4. Kulanu
Beersheva Makif Zayin HS: 1. Likud 2. Habayit Hayehudi 3. Yesh Atid 4. Aleh Yarok
Rishon L’Tzion Makif Tet HS: 1. Zionist Camp 2. Yisrael Beiteinu 3. Likud 
Petach Tikva Golda Meir HS: 1. Yesh Atid 2. Likud 3. Yisrael Beiteinu
Yehud Makif HS: 1. Yesh Atid 2. Habayit Hayehudi 3. Zionist Camp 4. Likud.
Tzfat/Safed Begin multi-discipline HS: 1. Yisrael Beiteinu 2. Likud 3. Habayit Hayehudi 4. Kulanu
Akko/Acre Kiryit Hinuch (Jewish) HS: 1. Habayit Hayehudi 2. Likud 3. Shas 4. Zionist Camp
Akko/Acre Or Dreski and Ort Hilmi Shaafi (Jewish and Arab) HS: 1. Joint Arab List 2. Yisrael Beiteinu 3. Yesh Atid

**Noteworthy, was the Zionist Camp's landslide in a mock election conducted Sunday at a Ramat Gan’s Blich High School, where it received 32% of the votes. Yesh Atid came in second with 28% and Likud a far third with 14%, Maariv and Ynet reported. Far-right Habayit Hayehudi received 10%, leftist Meretz got 9%, center-right Kulanu got 5% and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's far-right Yisrael Beiteinu did not make the threshold. Blich school is regarded as an electoral bellwether after predicting the Likud's historic victory in 1977, Yitzhak Rabin's victory in 1992, and Yair Lapid's achievement in 2013 when his Yesh Atid party ran for the first time and became the second largest in the Knesset. As Yesh Atid gains ground, many are asking if it will surprise us again this elections.
 
It will be interesting to see what next week’s polls prophesy, following the effect of a number of things. All of the recent polls were conducted before Thursday's first-ever election TV debate on Channel 2 between the heads of all but the top two political parties. There the party heads attacked Naftali Bennett, whose Habayit Hayehudi party is fairly strong. On Sunday, the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will decide whether to open a criminal probe of Netanyahu, after Israel's police chief found grounds to open a police probe into financial irregularities at Netanyahu's official residence. However, the police probe will take place only after elections. Netanyahu is giving his controversial address to Congress over an Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, and that may play in his favor.  

Ynet has a a beginner’s guide to Israel’s elections here.

News Nosh 02.26.15

  • A group of 200 Israeli generals: "Warn against electing Netanyahu – he is not Mr. Security" - A group of about 200 retired brigadier generals and higher are concerned about re-election of prime minister: "Under the current leadership our security is getting worse. We must initiate a diplomatic initiative." (Maariv
  • Likud officials fear embarrassing Sara Netanyahu tape may leak to press before election - Netanyahu is heard scolding Monique Ben Melech, wife of former Sderot mayor, Eli Moyal, for Moyal's criticism of the prime minister's performance during Gaza war. (Haaretz)
  • Court allows Lieberman to distribute Charlie Hebdo - Overturning decision by election panel, High Court says magazine featuring drawing of Mohammed is ‘legitimate political material.' (Haaretz+)

Netanyahu is main culprit in Israel's housing crisis (Haaretz Editorial) Likud would have us believe housing report shouldn't have been released so close to election. But the public deserves as much information as possible. 

Post-Zionist government leading us to a binational state (Aviad Kleinberg, Yedioth/Ynet) The Netanyahu governments, even when they include Labor and Yesh Atid members, are disassembling the Zionist project of the 'Jewish and democratic' state. 

Israel’s new existential threat (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) The right of Netanyahu and Bennett is corroding the two primary principles of Zionist policy. Unless there is a dramatic turnaround, Israel will slowly sink.

NewsNosh 2.25.15

Haaretz poll: Likud, Zionist Union tied at 23 seats each
Three weeks before election, Lapid's Yesh Atid rises to 12 seats – the same number of seats as Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi and the Joint List comprised of the Arab parties. (Haaretz+ and Haaretz)
Poll: One-fifth of Israeli voters still undecided, three weeks before elections - 43% of Zionist Union voters, 36% of Likud supporters would consider alternative slate. (Haaretz+) 
Poll of the Organization of Self-Employed: 19% with Lapid; Only 5% with Likud - 
Survey shows that 19% of them believe that Yesh Atid best promotes their own interests. 27% will vote for Zionist Camp. (Maariv)
Maariv’s wandering election polling station: 29 seats for Zionist Camp - According to the poll that was wandering in Nes Ziona and Rechovot, Netanyahu has cause for concern: 15% for Labor party in last election, jumps to the 24% for the Livni-Herzog partnership, 24% and passes the Likud. The top considerations: cost of living. (Maariv)

  • Election overseer rejects request to suspend Israel Hayom paper - Petitioner claimed that newspaper was effectively campaign literature for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Haaretz+)
  • In this election, vote for coexistence (Hazar Masri-Hussein, Yedioth/Ynet) Despite the difficult summer the Israeli society experienced, our politicians are avoiding dealing with the issues of racism and Jewish-Arab relations.

News Nosh 02.24.15

Yedioth Ahronoth:  The young voice – Results of elections held in high schools across Israel: The young want a change: 18 Zionist Camp, 18 Yair Lapid, 14 Likud, 3 Lieberman, 3 Bennett, 3 Kahlon

NewsNosh 2.23.15

Both the Likud and Zionist Camp tried to use the attack by the 18-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank [oddly, no details were released about him, not even his name – OH] to their party’s benefit, Haaretz+ reported. And ultra-nationalist Baruch Marzel, the Kahanist, running on Eli Yishai’s Yachad party ticket, also made an attempt to make headlines from the attack, Maariv reported. Marzel arrived on the scene just as the police were taking away the young Palestinian. Marzel asked the police to hand him over so he could "take care of him.” Maariv called it a ‘provocation.’ (VIDEO)

Arab parties angry that election slip printer is in settlement - Chosen printer for election slips raises outrage with the Joint List, want printer inside Green Line. (JPost and Maariv

Don't waste your time on automatic voters (Eitan Haber, Yedioth/Ynet) Election campaigns should focus on convincing the young Israeli citizens and new immigrants who were not raised on hostility and a sense of persecution and discrimination.  

The unlikely man who can bring the left to power (Iris Leal, Haaretz+) If Moshe Kahlon can bring in disillusioned voters from the center-right, he has a good chance of ending the Netanyahu era.

News Nosh 02.22.15

  • Likud pressuring State Comptroller to soften report on housing prices - MKs Miri Regev and Yariv Levin slam Comptroller over intention to publish report on housing problems close to election date; Likud source: 'We know the report will be published, our aim is to soften its content'. (Ynet)
  • Herzog slams Likud efforts to stop release of housing report - After Likud demanded State Comptroller to push release of his report on housing crisis to after elections, Zionist Camp leader says PM is 'looking for new victims and this time he's sinking his teeth into the State Comptroller'. (Ynet)
  • Likud withdraws petition against leftwing NGO, citing insufficient evidence - Despite claims to have evidence linking V15 to the Zionist Camp, judge recommends ruling party withdrew their injunction request against the organization, which they accused to be using foreign funds for left's election campaign. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
  • Gay rights activists assaulted at Bennett's party election rally - WATCH: Brawl erupts after gay pride flag unfurled at the party's election event; Habyit Hayehudi: 'The left has not learned a thing from the murder of Rabin.' (Haaretz+) 

The man trying to return Kahanism to the Knesset (Raviv Drucker, Haaretz+) Israel's Supreme Court is letting right-winger Baruch Marzel compete in the election. A big mistake, so now it’s up to the media to get busy.

I still have a dream - and it means that I, a Bedouin Arab woman, must vote (Hanan Elsana, Haaretz+) A self-interested Knesset and inciting government made me want to boycott the election. But the joint Arab list and fresh faces among the candidates give me hope and persuade me to go out and vote.  

The Arab parties' big move || Israeli Arabs shouldn't participate in a fixed political game (Jamal Abdo, Haaretz+) The merger of all the Arab parties is welcome, but we already know what impact they will have in the next Knesset — and the one after that, too. 

Replace Netanyahu to restore Israel's dignity (Ari Shavit, Haaretz+) Netanyahu family's warped lifestyle is not unrelated to Netanyahu's failure as prime minister. 

News Nosh 02.20.15 - special Israeli election polls review

Number of the day: 14.
--Percentage of Likud voters who said in a poll that the State Comptroller report on the Prime Minister's taxpayer-funded house expenses reduces the chance they will vote for him in the coming elections.

Election 2015 Polls Review:
The damning State Comptroller report about the residence expenses of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been detrimental to his election campaign, some polls show. If at the beginning of the week, before the Tuesday afternoon release of the report, the center-left Herzog-Livni led Zionist Camp had one seat more than Likud, by the end of the week, some polls showed Netanyahu’s electability suffered a blow.
 
A Channel 2 poll published Monday gave Zionist Camp 25 seats in the Knesset and Likud 24. The Joint (Arab) List was in third place with 12 and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and the Naftali Bennett-led Habayit Hayehudi both had 11.
 
The morning after the State Comptroller's report was released, a survey published by Israel's Army Radio revealed that 41% of voters said they were less likely to vote for Netanyahu. Out of those who said they were voting for the ruling party, 22% said they were now reconsidering, or were less supportive of the party, in wake of the report's publication. Some 49% of general voters and 54% of Likud voters said the report would not influence their vote.
 
But that lessened support seemed questionable later Wednesday with the release of a Channel 10 poll, which showed the report had no effect on the public. The Zionist Camp still had one seat more than Likud at 24. Maariv wrote that the publication of State Comptroller Yosef Shapira 's report on the prime minister's residence conduct “shows that the Israeli public remains indifferent to the results Shapira found.” However, Haaretz+ wrote that the Channel 10 poll “does not fully take the watchdog report into Netanyahu spending habits into account.” Zionist Camp sources told Haaretz+ that they thought the reason was that the right-wing tends to rally around the prime minister when he suffers personal attacks over his behavior, because the attacks are perceived as irrelevant to his professional performance.
 
Nevertheless, by Thursday it appeared that the report was taking its toll on Netanyahu’s party, according to a Maariv poll that was released to some on Thursday, but published in the Friday papers. It gave the Zionist Camp 24 seats to Likud's 22. Habayit Hayehudi 13, the Joint (Arab) List 12, Yesh Atid 12, Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party 8, Shas 7, United Torah Judaism 7, Meretz 6, Yisrael Beiteinu 5 and Eli Yishai’s Yachad party 4. Maariv’s top political commentator Ben Caspit wrote that it was “a bad week for Netanyahu. The investigation train has already left the station, the video clip of (designer) Moshik Galamin (visiting the PM’s residence to show the ‘peeling home’ undermined his image and he lost two seats and in the horizon a criminal investigation can be seen.” Meanwhile, Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi showed signs of recovery and regained two seats lost last week. Caspit believes that was at the expense of Netanyahu. According to Caspit, “It’s still much easier for Netanyahu to form a government. Herzog needs to be a master of politics to square the circle or round the triangle: (Netanyahu), along with Lapid, Lieberman, Kahlon, Leitzman-Gafni and Deri, make 61 seats. And that still requires convincing the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox to sit with Lapid."

**Maariv also found that 20% of respondents said that the Comptroller’s report reduces the chance they would vote for Likud. In what appeared to support the finds of Zionist Camp sources, the poll found that 30% of Likud voters say that the report increased the chance they will vote for Likud. But Caspit said that what was more important was that 14% of Likud voters said that the report reduces that chance. Still, this number was significantly lower than the 22% found in the Army Radio survey.
 
Confusing things, Channel 1 released a poll Thursday night that put Likud and Zionist Camp head-to-head with 24 mandates. Habayit Hayehudi had 13, Joint (Arab) List 12, Yesh Atid 11, Kulanu 8, UTJ 7, Shas 7, Yisrael Beiteinu 6, Meretz 4, and Yishai’s Yachad 4.

But things will get more interesting: the police are likely to give immunity to the former PM's residence manager, Meni Naftali in order to enable him to continue providing testimony to the police against the Netanyahu's. The Justice Ministry announced that it had been decided that the state prosecutor would recommend providing immunity to Naftali after a meeting with the attorney-general on Thursday, Haaretz+ reported.
 
Separately, a poll published today in Haaretz found that 60% of Arab voters want the Joint List in the next government – and only about half conditioned this on the government being led by Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog. The list is composed of the Arab secular and religious parties and the mixed Jewish-Arab Hadash party. It also showed the list winning as many as 14 seats. According to the poll Israeli Arabs care much more about bettering their socioeconomic lot than about solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ynet has a beginner’s guide to the Israeli election system.

News Nosh 02.19.15

High Court ruled: (Arab MK Haneen) Zouebi and (extreme right-wing activist Baruch) Marzel can run in elections

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s attack on Zionist Camp’s Tzipi Livni in response to the severe report by the State Comptroller against him, the latest declarations and decisions regarding the elections and the US declaration that Israel is distorting information regarding the Iran nuclear talks were top stories in today’s Hebrew newspapers along with the snow storm arriving today in Jerusalem and the north.

The Comptroller’s report that exposed extravagant taxpayer-funded spending at the the Prime Minister's homes was a ‘smokescreen’ to cover up the attempt to ‘sneak’ Tzipi Livni into the Prime Minister's office, Netanyahu said. According to him, “Tzipi Livni is a danger to Israel.” Netanyahu asserted that the Zionist Camp is trying to hide that Livni and Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog will rush to “negotiation of concessions” with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and bring Hamas to rule in the West Bank. Livni had a mouthful for Netanyahu in response: “Destroying Israel’s relations with the United States is a danger to Israel, the social gaps are a danger to Israel, poverty is a danger to Israel, and tunnels under the houses of Gaza-border residents are a danger. All this has happened during the nine years Bibi has been in power.”

  • Facebook to encourage Israelis to vote on Election Day - Study shows that over 300,000 Americans voted after seeing that their virtual friends had done so in last U.S. election. (Haaretz+)’
  • Israeli Arab schools face serious restraints in pre-election activities - Jewish schools encounter none of the restrictions put on Arab counterparts, such as no party posters or propaganda. (Haaretz+) 

News Nosh 02.18.15

  • High Court overturns decision: Zoabi and Marzel can run in election - Central Elections Committee had disqualified the Israeli Arab MK and right-wing extremist from running in the March election on grounds of incitement. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)

The State Comptroller’s concerns of criminal action by the Israeli Prime Minister Binaymin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as described in his long-awaited report, was the top story of today’s Hebrew newspapers, which (with the exception of Israel Hayom, of course) went into detail about the costs of the extravagant lifestyle of the Netanyahu couple, funded by the public. …Likud responded by accusing everyone of trying to unseat Netanyahu. (Israel Hayom commentators did as well. – OH) It blamed former manager of the PM’s residence, Meni Naftali, who brought much of this to the public attention, and the media, which “deals with trifle matters.”
 
**The Opposition was quick to react. The Zionist Camp said, “Meni Naftali is Netanyahu’s new Iran threat,” Maariv reported. Zionist Camp’s Shelly Yachimovich wondered at the extravagance asking, “What were they eating over there? Cornflakes with dolphin milk?” Calls were made for an immediate criminal probe against Netanyahu, also by many of the newspaper columnists in Maariv, Yedioth and Haaretz+.

Likud seeks injunction against V15 group - Party motions Jerusalem District Court for urgent interim order barring Labor, Victory 2015 campaign, Meretz and OneVoice from "engaging in financed election propaganda" pending ruling on whether such action violates elections, campaign financing laws. (Israel Hayom)

Attorney general: Petition against Israel Hayom lacks legal merit - Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein says Central Elections Committee cannot regulate press coverage, as "this would go beyond the law's stated purpose."  He says an injunction against the paper would be tantamount to censorship. (Israel Hayom

Weinstein's test: Will he be able to make decisions without regards to the election? (Aviram Zino, Maariv) State Comptroller's report regarding expenses of Netanyahu couple raises three criminal cases. Attorney General must now decide whether to adopt the position of the State Comptroller, and thus direct the police to open a criminal investigation against the Prime Minister. 
Legitimizing the racist perceptions at the heart of Israeli politics (Aeyal Gross, Haaretz+) Marking people like Haneen Zoabi and Baruch Marzel as the 'lunatic fringe' hides the fact that the 'mainstream' is responsible for democracy's real problems.
Netanyahu called me an ISIS collaborator (Captain (res.) R., Yedioth/Ynet) Despite being a leftist, I promise to report to reserve duty in Israel's next war on terror; Netanyahu and his intimidations, on the other hand, are a passing episode. 
An immediate probe by the Attorney General is necessary before election (Adv. Moshe Shuchtman, Maariv) On the face of it, the State Comptroller's report shines a light where it would appear dark. In normal times, you could wait and see how things develop, but these are days of elections.
If the left can't beat Netanyahu, they should join him (Ravit Hecht, Haaretz+) If the left-center fails to form a bloc to prevent a Netanyahu government, the pragmatic mission is to leave Habayit Hayehudi outside the government. 

News Nosh 02.17.15 - special Israeli election polls review

27 days to go and the latest elections poll released Monday by Channel 2 puts the Herzog-Livni Zionist Camp one mandate ahead of Likud with 25 seats. Nevertheless, a tally of the seats (without the Ashkenaqi ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party) still puts a right-wing coalition ahead of a center-left one with 60 mandates compared to 53, and that is including the Joint Arab List in the center-left coalition, despite the fact that no Arab party has ever been invited into a government coalition and it is not clear that it will be now. However, if United Torah Judaism joined the center-left coalition then the two largest parties would be even. 

In the most recent poll, the Joint (Arab) List is a far third place with 12 seats and Haaretz+ wonders why Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party has gained momentum, tying the far-right-wing Habayit Hayehudi with 11 mandates. 

The battle that recently began between Likud and Habayit Hayehudi for the right-wing pro-settler vote has caused one party to rise when the other drops. In Channel 1’s poll from February 11th, Likud pulls ahead 27 seats and Habayit Hayehudi only 11. Two days later the Walla! Hebrew news website poll showed Likud with 25 and Habayit Hayehudi with 13. Another two days later on February 15th, the i24news poll showed Likud pulling ahead again with 27 to Habayit Hayehudi’s 11. Zionist Camp got 24. 

The Joint (Arab) List remains steady with 12 or 13 mandates in all of the last week’s polls. The Joint (Arab) List is targeting Jewish left-wing voters with an anti-racism, pro-democracy Hebrew campaign. Some of its votes are said to come from Meretz voters, the only Zionist real left-wing party. Meretz is also battling for votes from the Zionist Camp and the result is that it is left with only 5 or 6 mandates in most of the polls. 

The Likud party is preparing a ‘blitz’ against others in order to defend Netanyahu after the 16:00 release today of the report of high expenses of his official residences. Haaretz+ reported some Likud MKs balked at being asked to defend Netanyahu’s personal conduct. Maariv reported that various political sources said the report’s findings are “very difficult." The big question is how will the report affect Netanyahu’s image and his chances of winning a fourth term. Both Likud and the rival Zionist Camp conducted in-depth polls to determine the impact of upcoming probe into bottle-deposit scandal, Haaretz reported.

News Nosh 02.16.15

President Rivlin: "Israelis long for leadership that can make decisions" - The president hinted at the superficial election campaigns waged by the parties, noting the viral video clips and slogans: "Israelis are fed up with the attempts to drug them with satire or celebrities." (Maariv)

News Nosh 02.15.15

Joint Arab party hopes for 15 seats in upcoming elections - Arab politicians credit hard-line FM Lieberman for forcing the three Arab parties to run together on one list for first time in Israel's history, after he pushed to raise elections threshold. (Ynet

Meretz leader Gal-On attacks: Leaders of ‘Zionist Camp’ are washed out imitations of Netanyahu - Gal-On is trying to differentiate itself her party from Herzog and Livni: "The public wants to replace Netanyahu. But we don’t need to change the government in order to say (about the Palestinians) that ‘there is no partner,' like Livni and (Zionist Camp candidate) Amos Yadlin say.” (Maariv)  

Netanyahu's newest election video: The left is good for ISIS - Zionist Union said in response to the clip that 'Netanyahu lives in a fantasy if he thinks we've forgotten his colossal failure in the area of security.' (Haaretz+)

Yuval Diskin responds to Likud’s ‘ISIS clip’ election video: “Netanyahu has lost his shame” - Former Shin Bet chief wrote in response to the video of the ruling party, "What is the man who freed Ahmed Yassin in 1997 and was unable to defeat a terrorist organization in Gaza talking about?" Accuses Netanyahu of allowing Hamas to rebuild. (Maariv and Ynet)

Israel Election Updates / Lieberman: Arab Knesset members' sole ideology seeks Israel's destruction - 30 days to go: Kulanu candidate Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant vows to win next Gaza war; Labor MKs accuse Netanyahu of distracting voters with political spin. (Haaretz)

Israel’s ban of Arab lawmaker from election is unjust (Friday Haaretz Editorial) Haneen Zoabi is simply being politically persecuted, but the disqualification of far-rightist Baruch Marzel might hold water. 

The Zionist (Camp) Union is the poor man’s Likud (Friday Haaretz Editorial) Anyone wishing to replace this government must first of all take a strong stand against the transformation of Israel into an apartheid state.

News Nosh 02.13.15

Number of the day: 61.  -- Percentage of Israelis who think that the US administration is intervening in Israeli elections.**

Election committee disqualified (Arab MK) Zouebi (far right-wing) MK Marzel, the decision goes to the High Court

The deal was exposed: “It was agreed to form a central block with Lieberman as Prime Minister” – Faina Kirschenbaum breaks her silence and claims: “There was a plan to dismiss Netanyahu after the elections”; Elections Committee rejected Zouebi’s and Marzel’s candidacy

Maariv Poll: Almost even – Netanyahu leads by only one mandate over Zionist Camp. Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid continues to rise, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu makes some improvement and support for Naftali Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi drops.
 
Likud: 24; Zionist Camp: 23; Joint (Arab) List with Hadash: 13; Yesh Atid: 12; Habayit Hayehudi: 11; Yehadut Hatorah: 7, Kulanu: 7; Shas: 6; Meretz: 6; Yisrael Beiteinu: 6; Yachad: 5
 
Do you think that the US administration is intervening in Israeli elections? 61% yes; 31% no; 8% don’t know.
What should Netanyahu do regarding the criticism over his planned speech in Congress? 41% go and speak; 36%: don’t go at all; 17% go, but speak only before AIPAC; 6%: don’t know.

News Summary:
Disqualifications made the top stories in the Friday Hebrew newspapers. More withdrawals of jurors and candidates (David Grossman spoke to media after withdrawing candidacy) as storm continues over Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s move disqualifying judges on jury of the esteemed Israel Prize (update: Netanyahu retracted today following order by Attorney General), while the Central Elections Committee disqualified firebrand Arab MK Haneen Zouebi (Balad) and far right-wing Kahanist MK Baruch Marzel (Yachad) from running in the upcoming elections (Maariv and Haaretz+ write about the stormy hearing), despite the Attorney General recommendation not to disqualify Zouebi, now leaving it to the High Court to make the decide.
 
Meanwhile, Habayit Hayehudi accuses Netanyahu of both trying to steal its voters, even though the far-right-wing party is Likud’s #1 ally in a future coalition, and of planning to form a left-wing government – which would not be supported by Habayit Hayehudi’s far right-wing voters. 

News Nosh 02.12.15

 A poll found that Israelis see a deterioration in ties with the US under Netanyahu, but they believe that their relationship with American Jews is just fine - and that’s the problem, says the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which released the poll. If Netanyahu wins the upcoming elections, he’ll have to deal even more with Obama. According to a new book by former top Obama advisor David Axelrod, Obama's second term goal is to push Netanyahu on peace.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said Balad MK Haneen Zouebi should not be barred from running for the Knesset, however the Knesset Elections Committee meets today with a majority of people who will vote to bar her. This happened in the 2013 elections and in the end, the High Court ruled she could run. Weinstein rejected Meretz MK Issa Freij’s request to stop Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party from ‘using racist and offensive messages supporting the denial of citizenship of Israeli citizens" in his party platform. Weinstein also rejected the Likud request to ban the V15 organization, Maariv reported. Weinstein also rejected Meretz's petition to bar the broadcasting of Netanyahu's Congress speech.

Netanyahu’s Cossack-inspired election slogan: 'Smite the leftists and save Israel!' (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) Anti-Zionist saboteurs are a closed clique of detached elitists who conspire with foreign enemies to stick knives in the army’s back - sound familiar? 

We all know the drill: MKs ban Zoabi, Supreme Court overrules (Aeyal Gross, Haaretz+) Central Election Committee, made up of MKs, has become a political battering ram for the majority against Arab MKs. 

Israel election's biggest battle being fought by newspaper tycoons (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) When Netanyahu accuses Noni Mozes and Co. of trying to topple him from power in order to close the pro-PM Israel Hayom, a disturbing question arises: Who is running things, and who is being run?

News Nosh 02.11.15 - special Israeli election polls review

Maariv's traveling ballot - now in Beersheva: Victory for the right-wing along with frustration and disappointment.

As with previous elections the Likud wins in the capital of the Negev with 36% of votes, only 15% for Herzog-Livni’s Zionist Camp, 9% for Bennett’s Habayit Hayehudi, 4% for Yesh Atid and 5% for Shas, despite the surprising support it got from the Bedouin sector. Maariv notes that the Herzog-Livni combination got 2% more votes than the Labor and Hatnua got combine in the 2013 elections in Beersheva and Likud got 2% less. Habayit Hayehudi got 3% less in the Beersheva poll this elections.
 
Knesset Channel Poll: Tie between Likud and Zionist Camp with 23 seats each. Habayit Hayehudi, Yesh Atid and the Joint Arab List each received 12 seats. (Maariv)

Right-wing parties are preparing for the vote will take place in the Elections Committee Thursday over whether to reject MK Hanin Zouabi's candidacy to run in elections, and the Joint Arab List was pressuring the Herzog-Livni Zionist Camp not to support her rejection, Maariv reported. Israel Hayom reported that the Zionist Camp has already 'zig-zagged,' declaring that it won't support her rejection after previously stating it would. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein likely will recommend against her rejection after she signed an affidavit saying she has never supported armed struggle against Israel. 

AG rejects petition to bar broadcast of Netanyahu's Congress speech - Weinstein notes the speech concerning the Iran nuclear threat is newsworthy and of interest to the public, and does not constitute as forbidden election propaganda. (Ynet)

Nearly half of eligible Israeli voters are under 40 - Central Bureau of Statistics report show there are 5.3 million eligible voters living in Israel, a 4.5% increase over the 2013 elections. (Ynet)

News Nosh 02.10.15

Haaretz: Breakthrough with Iran likely to turn into Netanyahu’s winning card in elections // Chemi Shalev

Lawyer petitions Election Committee to end Israel Hayom's pro-Netanyahu 'propaganda' - Shahar Ben Meir brands Sheldon Adelson owned newspaper 'propaganda platform pretending to be a newspaper', compares it to Orwell's 1984. (Ynet)

Likud aims to drive Lieberman out of the Knesset, party officials say - Netanyahu's party is targeting Yisrael Beiteinu voters, hoping to become largest party after elections - even at the price of pulling Lieberman below electoral threshold. (Haaretz+)

State comptroller to probe V15 after elections - State Comptroller's Office to investigate Victory 2015 campaign's ties to Zionist Camp following March 17 election. Audit to review origins and scope of group's funding, possible campaign financing violations. V15 says it will cooperate with probe. (Israel Hayom)

Netanyahu needs some damage control, and fast (Eytan Gilboa, Yedioth/Ynet) If the prime minister is so insistent that the timing of his Congress speech has nothing to do with the elections, he should have no problem delaying it.

A choice between Right and Left (Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom) Both Likud and Labor-Hatnuah have a vested interest in having the election campaign focus on a choice between the bigger political blocs. 

News Nosh 02.09.15 - special Israeli election polls review

Channel 10 Poll: Likud, Zionist Camp tied at 23 seats each
Channel 10 poll finds Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi dips to 14 seats; 43% prefer to see Netanyahu as prime minister. (Haaretz)
Poll: Zionist Camp ahead by large margin among voting 12th graders
At the end of a conference, which was attended by about 1,000 12th graders from across the country who will be voting in the upcoming elections for the first time, about half of the students took part in a poll: 99% of voters said they intended to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming elections, 36% intend to vote for the Zionist camp, 12% for Habayit Hayehudi, 11% for Kulanu headed by Moshe Kahlon, 10.3% for Meretz, 9% for Yesh Atid and only 9% for Likud. (Maariv)

Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett was not so popular at an elections event for high school seniors from across the country, in what Yedioth dubbed the ‘Thieves Speech.’ Arab students and Jewish Meretz activists stormed out calling Bennett’s words “racist and nationalist when Bennett said there was a phenomenon of car theft near Arab-populated areas and that “in every Arab town and every Arab city, you can’t enter because the State of Israel decided that the rule of law only operates in Tel-Aviv and Ra’anana, but not in those places.” Yedioth and Maariv reported that both Arab and Jewish students walked out. Haaretz’s reporter was apparently not present and only reported on the Arab students who left. The Times of Israel reported that Bennett has threatened to sue an Israeli journalist who also walked out on the speech and accused Bennett of racism on Twitter.

Israeli remix king takes on election - Noy Alooshe – known for popular online auto-tuned remix videos of Israeli politicians – gives Ynet readers exclusive new song which pokes fun at 'Bibi/Buji' divide. (Ynet)

News Nosh 02.08.15

Latest Yedioth poll puts Zionist Camp one seat ahead of Likud and Habayit Hayehudi drops to 12 seats.

The papers, with the obvious exception of the ‘Netanyahu mouthpiece,’ Israel Hayom, reported extensively on the opposition to Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress next month. ADL's Abe Foxman called on Netanyahu to cancel his address as did leaders of Israeli left and center-left parties, saying it was an election ploy that will harm Israel. Two prominent black Democrats also announced they won't attend the speech. Interestingly, Israeli Deputy Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) suggests the Republican who invited Netanyahu misled him.

Furtive finance of settlements a top Israeli election issue - Associated Press analysis of national budget figures found that expansion in West Bank received eightfold increase in public funding in 2014. Calcalist reports Justice Ministry will soon recommend closing WZO's Settlement Division. (Agencies, Ynet

The scandal-to-scandal (to scandal) guide to the Israeli election, 2015
Accusations of embezzlement, illegal monitoring of opponents, meddling in U.S. politics, flawed primaries, mutual mudslinging and underhand recordings join the ever-growing list. (Haaretz+) 

Don't disqualify Zoabi from running in elections (Haaretz Editorial) The attempt to ban Haneen Zoabi is not only legally unjustified, but severely compromises the right of the Arab public to choose its representatives. 

Stop kidding yourselves, Israelis want Netanyahu as leader (Rogel Alpher, Haaretz+) Pundits are telling the Zionist Camp to take the battle to the prime minister more, but they're ignoring both history and the modern reality.
An election of Jewish values (Rabbi Donniel Hartman, Ynet) It's been a long time since we had elections campaign as important to the future of Israel as we do now. Our vote will not be about a peace agreement, but rather on the values that would lead to it.
Zionist Camp reveals its true, racist face (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) The party that some hoped would defend Israeli democracy from attacks by the right wing has now joined the assault. 
The Likud is right: Security and diplomacy are the real election issues (Amnon Abramovich, Yedioth/Ynet) The 2015 vote must not focus on Netanyahu's alleged corruption but on his biggest failures: Preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state and the shattered relationship with America.

Who are you, Netanyahu voters? And why? (Uri Misgav, Haaretz+) For the second time, Likud is not even bothering to publish a party platform ahead of the elections, belaying a supreme level of condescension for voters. 

News Nosh 02.06.15 - special Israeli election polls review

Numbers of the day: 57.6%.
--Number of Jewish voters who think that socio-economic issues are of top importance in choosing a party to vote for in the upcoming elections.**

Likud has a slight lead over Zionist Camp in four out of five Israeli election polls published this week, but the right-wing parties together make a much bigger bloc than the left and center-left wing together (i.e. Meretz and Zionist Camp, respectively). Project 61 offers an informative breakdown of the ideological blocs based on the recent polls. (See here for a look at the parties and their candidates.)

Forming a government might prove difficult to the Zionist Camp. The 'left-wing' bloc together with the ‘centrist’ parties form a larger bloc than the right-wing, but not the 61 needed to have a majority in the Knesset, say polls. (P61 considers Kulanu and Yesh Atid ‘centrist’ parties because they are willing to enter into a coalition with Zionist Camp.) To have a majority in the Knesset, the leftish alliance would need the Joint List of Hadash and Arab parties to join them. However, Arab parties are non-Zionist and never invited to join coalitions. That said, non-Zionist ultra-Orthodox parties are invited to join coalition governments. The ultra-Orthodox Shas (right-wing) and Yehadut Hatorah (UTJ) have a total of 15 mandates, according to polls. And in any case, those same right-leaning ‘centrist parties,’ could also join a right-wing coalition government, which would give it more than 60 mandates without the need to bring anyone else in.

Project 61 shows that Maariv’s poll marked the biggest gap between the two largest parties, with 26 mandates for Likud and 22 for Zionist Camp. However, a poll by Kol Baramah ultra-Orthodox radio station gave both parties 24 mandates. The far-right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party, the Joint list of Hadash party and the Arab parties and the center-right Yesh Atid party trail directly behind respectively with between 9-14 mandates. After them come the ultra-Orthodox Yehadut Hatorah (UTJ), Moshe Kahlon’s center-right Kulanu, the left-wing Zionist Meretz party, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, the far-right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party and the even farther right-wing Yachad party led by former Shasnik Eli Yishai.
 
The Tel-Aviv University Peace Index shows that more than half of the Jews polled (53.2%) would like a right-wing government after the coming elections, while only 38.3% would like a center-left bloc. Of Israel’s Arab citizens, 54% would want a center-left government and, interestingly, 17.5% would like a right-wing bloc. Some 28% either don’t know or declined to answer. Of the general population, 47.3% want a right-wing government while 41% want a center-left bloc. Most of the people polled (54.7%) believe that a right-wing bloc has a greater chance of forming the next government.
 
**Despite the fact that the majority of Israeli Jews support a right-wing government and most think that a right-wing party will be most likely to form the next government, the most important issue for both Jews and Arabs in the determining who they’ll vote for in the upcoming elections is the socio-economic issue – not political-security issues – and for that they think that a government headed by the center-left Zionist Camp is more suited. According to the TAU Peace Index, 42.6% of the Jews and 55.7% of the Arabs said that socio-economic issues are of utmost importance. Another 15% of the Jews and 10.2% of the Arabs thought both issues are equally important. However, 52.3% of the Jews and 57.8% of the Arabs think ‘a government headed by Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog is better suited to deal with Israel’s socioeconomic issues.’

Jewish Israeli youth are largely right-wing in their views, according to surveys taken over the last few weeks, Ynet reported. Some 67% of first-time voters, who are aged 18-20, define themselves as either right-wing or center-right. They make up about 5% of the total voters.
 
Ynet has a beginner’s guide to the Israeli election system.

News Nosh 02.03.15

Elections 2015 – Haaretz poll: Likud 25; Zionist Camp 23….Likud gains strength, center-left weakens and ultra-Orthodox strengthen

Netanyahu surging in polls, but scandals may take toll.  Recent reports of alleged corruption at the prime minister’s residences haven’t dented his popularity in Haaretz+'s latest poll.
Likud – 26
Zionist Camp – 24
Habayit Hayehudi – 1
3
Joint List (Hadash and Arab parties) – 12
United Torah Judaism – 9
Yesh Atid – 9
Kulanu – 8
Shas – 7
Yisrael Beiteinu – 6
Meretz – 5
Yahad (Eli Yishai) – 3 (Doesn’t pass threshold)
Kadima – 0
Aleh Yarok – 0
Otzma Yehudit – 0

The Likud has a case against NGOs (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) According to reasonable interpretation, V15 is clearly part of the election campaign as it is defined by the law. The same definition may even apply to a famous newspaper which is actually affiliated with Netanyahu.
With Left too scared to talk about the occupation, Israel's better off with Bibi (Oudeh Basharat, Haaretz+) Some say Netanyahu's rivals are only pretending to be right-wing as an election strategy; but we can't trust them to hoist the banner of peace after hiding it in the cellar.
Time to lay the cards on the table (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) The media is digging around the prime minister's recyclables while ignoring the much more serious matter of an attempt by foreign-funded radical Left groups to intervene in the elections.

News Nosh 02.02.15

Herzog: If I win elections, I may ask Netanyahu to join coalition - Zionist Camp leader Isaac Herzog on recent tensions in the north: "If Nasrallah thinks he can divide our people because of the elections, he is wrong. Against terrorism, there is a consensus. And on the Golan Heights, there is no dispute." (Israel Hayom)

Likud accuses Zionist Camp of breaking election funding law - Petition filed by ruling party claims NGOs OneVoice and V15 are indirectly contributing to left-wing parties' elections campaign, using funding from foreign donors. (Ynet and Israel Hayom

Bennett, Steinitz participated in One Voice events - Bayit Yehudi chairman, intelligence minister attended conferences of group accused by Likud of 'radical leftwing' agenda to buy elections. (Ynet

These are the candidates vying for public's vote in upcoming elections: Parties submit Knesset list for 2015 elections: Eli Ohana drops out of Bayit Yehudi, Hotovely ranked before Dichter on list, Baruch Marzel runs with Eli Yishai, and Zionist Camp has four women in its top 10. (Ynet)

News Nosh 02.01.15

Israel Hayom: Second NGO affair – Likud complained against V15 organization to central elections committee. States: Illegal donations. Herzog and Livni: “Likud stressed, we have no connection to NGOs.”

Embarrassment in Knesset: (Radical right-wing activist) Baruch Marzel refused to shake hand of Justice Salim Jubran - Justice Jubran heads Central Election Committee and on Thursday all party candidates arrived at Knesset. Marzel is running as #4 on the Yachad party list headed by former Shas leader Eli Yishai. Was identified in past with (terrorist) Kach party. He explained his behavior: "At every opportunity he goes against Israel and IDF soldiers. Just recently he asked to cancel the punishment of terrorist Hanin Zoabi." [MK Zouebi is not a terrorist. – OH] (Maariv)

Israel election updates / Labor's Herzog: Netanyahu disrespecting U.S. to further political interests - 44 days to go: Livni attacks Netanyahu on alcohol spending; Meretz party calls for investigation into Netanyahu's bottle recycling scandal. (Haaretz)

'Obama campaigner advising Left on how to unseat Netanyahu' - Zionist Organization of America decries perceived attempt by Washington to meddle in Israeli elections following reports that President Obama's closest advisers have teamed with the Left to defeat PM Netanyahu. Group head: It is simply hypocrisy. (Israel Hayom)

This was no election-driven escalation (Ben-Dror Yemini, Yedioth/Ynet) Legend may have it that security tension plays into the hands of the ruling government; history proves this is not the case, so it's unclear where rumors of Netanyahu's desire for an escalation started.

Why the election in Israel will change nothing (Zeev Sternhell, Haaretz+) There is only one thing that will galvanize Israel to end the occupation and it's not a new more centrist government.

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