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Getting Ready for the New Elections in Israel!

Getting Ready for the New Elections in Israel!

As a parliamentary democracy, Israel is slated to have elections every four years, but they can be held earlier if the governing coalition dissolves. Few governing coalitions last the full four years, but even so, it was a bit of a surprise when Prime Minister Netanyahu called for elections last month, less than two years after the last election. Elections will be held on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, and with such little time between now and then, it seems like every day is chock full of new developments that will shape the elections.

Amongst the most important ones:

  • Two new political parties have been formed!
  • Two parties have merged! Hatnua (“the movement”), a centrist party focused on returning to negotiations with the Palestinians, has merged with the Labor Party, Israel’s long-standing center-left party. The head of Hatnua, Tzipi Livni (who used to be the head of Kadima, a centrist party), would rotate as prime minister with the head of the Labor Party, Isaac Herzog, if their joint party wins elections.
  • Likud and Jewish Home, the ultra-nationalist party, have agreed to give tacit support to each other, although the parties will not join together for elections. This announcement comes after an announcement this past July that Yisrael Beitenu (“Israel our home”), the Russian immigrant-heavy right-wing party headed by Avigdor Liberman, has split from Likud and will be running as an independent party.

It’s a dizzying array of stories and events, but the gist of the election is simple enough: the election will likely produce either a right-wing government, headed again by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or a center-left government headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni. Some are viewing the elections as a stark choice between on the one hand an Israeli government that will be hostile to Palestinian interests and supportive of annexing parts of the West Bank, and on the other a government willing to engage in meaningful peace negotiations with Palestinians. Yet others doubt that much will change either way.

Only time will tell who will win the election, but in the mean time you can read about new developments that ARZA is following. And if you’re more of a Nate Silver-type interested in polling analysis, you can also check out J Street’s new election information website and the blog of one of Israel’s leading political analysts.

Published: 12/31/2014

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