My report today, of necessity, will reflect a certain amount of confusion. That, right now, is built into the system. So many mixed messages, confusing parameters, and varied possibilities.
The election numbers I provided at 2 AM this morning are holding, with most votes counted: Kadima, 28; Likud, 27. Right wing/nationalist bloc 65, left wing bloc 55.
It will take a couple of days yet until the full count is in. This includes not only members of the IDF, but diplomaticcorps overseas, people stationed on ships, and people in hospitals. All of thesevotes have to be cross-referenced against voter lists. The likelihood that the bulk of IDF votes will go to the right wing parties is considered great.
Additionally, there is the matter of a vote sharing system that some parties have, so that votes aren’t lost. (A simplified explanation: If, for example, each30,000 votes equals one seat, a party that gets 110,000 votes will be awarded three seats, but have 20,000 wasted votes. If there is a formal agreement with another party that has more than 10,000 wasted votes, the wasted votes will be combined and an additional seatwill be given to one of the parties according to a formula.)
Likud and Yisrael Beitenu (Lieberman) have such an agreement. Kadima had an agreement with the Green Party, which hasn’t made the minimum cutoff, and so is out of luck.
This means Likud might still gain a seat by virtue of this arrangement, while Kadima cannot.
What all of the above signifies is that the numbers are not absolutely final yet. It would be marvelous if Likud could advance one seat beyond what Kadima has achieved — which would certainly make it very difficult indeed for Peres to select Livni first to attempt to shape a coalition. Even a tie would be good.
Lieberman, whom I referred as the spoiler, in that he drew many votes from Likud, is nowsomething of aking-maker. Both parties are courting him. Today he met first with Livni, who did her utmost to draw him into her camp, holding out promise of what they could accomplish. While it was said that matters were left “open-ended” — and that he might meet with her again — my gut sense after this meeting was that he’s not likely to go with her. His preference, he says, is for a right wing coalition.
What is more, MK Stas Meseznikov, the head of Yisrael Beitenu’s coalition negotiation team, has said that the priorities of the party will include resolving terror (whatever that actually means), toppling Hamas control, and advancing an Israeli citizenship law (which means requiring pledges of loyalty from Arab citizens). This does not sound like a Kadima program.
Lieberman also indicated he’d sit with Shas, in spite of enormous tensions during the campaign (when Rav Ovadiah called Yisrael Beitenu “Satan”). Netanyahu has met with Shas: Party head Eli Yishai has committed to recommending to Peres that Netanyahu build the coalition, and has reciprocally indicated that he would sit with Lieberman.
Seemed to me that this unfolding of events told us where this was probably going.
What strengthened my conviction was the announcement by Likud MK Danny Danon that he was forming a coalition of MKs loyal to the land of Israel.He said he intends to meet with Uzi Landau of Yisrael Beitenu, Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz, head of the National Union, Ruby Rivlin from the Likud, and Professor Daniel Hershkovitz of the Jewish Home. The coalition would fight for the land of Israel to remain whole and in Jewish hands.
Later today, Lieberman met with Netanyahu, and came out of that meeting declaring that a decision has not been made as to whom they will recommend to Peres: “We have not ruled out any Zionist party.”
It sounds to me as if he’s playing this for all he can get.
And I wonder what number two on the list, Uzi Landau, who came out of Likud, has to say about it all.
Frankly, I remain a bit bewildered by the talk about which way Lieberman will go. For the numbers, as I calculate them, tell me that Livni would fall just short (at 59 seats) even with Lieberman, and even if Labor — which finds Yisrael Beitenu offensive because of its anti-Arab positions — agreed to sit with this party.
No Arab party would ever sit with Lieberman.
And late last night, head of Labor, Ehud Barak, said, “We won’t serve in a government that isn’t established by the specifications of our path, and we won’t hesitate to go to the opposition and serve the people from there.”
From where could she draw an additional coalition partner and establish a government even remotely stable? What’s being suggested inside of Kadima isUnited Torah Judaism, which is pretty counter-intuitive. (UTJ has met with Netanyahu already, but there is no word on this meeting.)
It rather seems that, barring something unforeseen and unpredictable, Livni is likely to be out of luck. Fervently is it to be hoped that this is the case.
Humor for the day: Livni has declared that the people have decided for her party (never mind that the people decided for the right/nationalist wing). She has invited Netanyahu to join a unity government with her at its helm.
I really don’t think so.
Similarly has any notion of sharing the premiership been rejected out of hand.
A very excellent reason for Netanyahu to be prime minister. The Washington Postwrote today that key members of the current administration “have long and difficult memories of dealing with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Likud leader, when he was prime minister during the Clinton administration. It is no secret that U.S. officials would prefer to deal with Livni…”
On the subject of negotiations: European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana told the press today in Russia that,” It [the coalition formed in Israel] will have to be a government ready to continue…a very serious process of negotiation.”
Will have to be? This does not sit well.
Aides from the office of Mahmoud Abbas, uneasy about Netanyahu’s commitment to permit development in communities in Judea and Samaria to allow for natural growth, have declared that the condition for re-starting negotiations is the freezing of all settlement activity.
This is their bottom line? I think we need one too: No talks what-so-ever unless the PA recognizes publicly and openly our right to exist as a Jewish state. This is something they consistently balk at doing. Israel? Maybe. But not a Jewish Israel.
I had alluded yesterday to additional reasons why our current governing coalition must go as soon as possible:
I have written about the fact that what is being negotiated with Hamas regarding release of Shalit would strengthen Hamas, and that this is of great concern to the PA.
Well, it turns out that Barak was sensitive to this concern. But he didn’t decide to offer less to Hamas for this reason. Instead he decided he had to do something further to strengthen the PA.
Of course! What eminently sound reasoning! Once you get on that “concession” merry-go-round, there’s no getting off. There are simply more and more concessions without red lines.
One possibility being considered is the transfer of security control of a city such as Tulkarem to the PA. The IDF is opposed because there would then be no operational freedom in the city for security purposes.
But it can’t be helped, said officials in Barak’s office. This had to be done to prevent the “weakening” of the PA. As one official explained:
“A prisoner swap could undermine the PA…and just strengthen Hamas. Israel will likely have to make a simultaneous gesture to the PA to prevent that from happening.”
Have to?? Have to?? In this instance the”have to” is from inside our own government.
This unbearable perspective is mitigated only by the fervent hope and expectation that the guys establishing these policies will be gone very soon.
Then we have this even more unbearable news from Aaron Lerner, citing Haaretz:
“Minister Of Education Yuli Tamir (Labor) has decided to approve a program proposed by a panel she appointed that would familiarize Jewish and Arab Israeli students from nursery school through 12th grade with ‘the culture of their counterparts, their narrative, and its legitimacy.’“It should be noted that the ‘narrative’ of the Israeli Arabs is that creation of the State of Israel was a ‘disaster’ and that there is no legitimacy to its current existence…