Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Political turmoil

The Israeli political scene has been thrown into turmoil and chaos by several defections, retirements and conflicts (however nothing in comparison to Egypt or Syria!). 
First there was the announced retirement of current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose political demise follows his defection from Labor in order to retain the Defense portfolio in the Likud coalition, for which he founded his own Independence (Ha'atzmaut) Party.  In view of this news the remaining members of the Independence Party have decided not to run. Then the reentry of the spoiled lady, Tzipi Livni, into politics was announced with the formation of the eponymous party, "The Tzipi Livni Movement."  More recently the split in Labor came to a public spat between former Labor Leader Amram Mitzna and the current head Shelly Yacimovich.  Mitzna who was a disaster as Defense Minister, has never come to terms with the ascension of Yacimovich and left Labor with harsh words and joined the Livni Party, where he became no. 2 on their list. 
Given the impending collapse of the former Center party, Kadima of Ehud Olmert, who has announced that he is not running (he is still too busy with corruption hearings) several well-known politicians have announced their transfer to Livni's Party, including Meir Sheetrit and Michael Melchior.  Her party has become a haven for political malcontents and drop-outs, hardly a coherent and effective way to enter the elections.  Kadima itself will be running under the leadership of former Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz.
There have been attempts to reconcile political and personal feuds in order to achieve a combined Center-Left coalition between Labor, Livni, Kadima and Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid ("there is a future") Party.  But, as usual Livni has been the spolier, she will never accept second place even though she has the weaker Party.  The projected tallies are Labor, 20 seats, Livni, 9 seats, Yesh Atid, 7, and Kadima ca. 5 giving a total of ca. 41, not enough to overcome the 39-42 seats expected for the combined Likud-Beitanu list plus Shas (11 seats) and a few smaller right wing and religious parties. So up to the deadline there appears to be no consolidation of the Center-Left and they will go into the elections with the expectation that they cannot defeat the Center-Right coalition of Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud-Beitanu.
Although Likud and Israel Beitanu managed to combine their lists, some people were not happy with the result.  The popular Deputy FM Danny Ayalon, for reasons unexplained (although perhaps his insult to the Turkish Ambassador), was immediately dropped by Lieberman from the IB list, and several others have threatened to leave the party because they ended up too low on the combined list.  That's politics.

PS. I have added a new section to my web-site, where I am depositing my popular lectures.  They are available at www.jackcohenart.com/Lectures.html .  They are mostly on Powerpoint.  You may use them, but with attribution.


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