For now, opinion polls show that the left has no chance of defeating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lawmakers Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli, by crawling into his government, have turned the Labor Party into a historical relic. Both Labor and Meretz have forgone primaries, leaving power in the hands of their leaders. There is no democracy in the parties of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid either. This leaves Likud, embarrassingly, as the only democratic party.
Joint List MK and Balad Chairman Mtanes Shehadeh said Saturday following Gantz and Netenyahu’s statements that „the arab community has spoken, they want a change in their position and aim for an end to discrimination and racism. Netanyahu would die to disqualify them but could not, and Gantz would have liked to ignore them but he couldn’t.“
It seems as if our leftist politicians have simply given up all hope, or pretense, of getting their act together.
Now they are looking to Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz, hoping he will be so kind as to stick his hand into the wading pool in which they are drowning, pull them out and sit them down nicely one next to the other.
Meretz is even more vulnerable in the polls and is liable to pay the price. That’s why Peretz has allowed himself to stand on the sidelines and insist on realizing his dream. And therefore, he is the one who must pay the price for this reckless gamble.
The danger is clear and present. If either Labor or Meretz (in its present wrapping as the Democratic Union) do not make it into the next Knesset, the right will enjoy a crushing victory, with Netanyahu forming a coalition that will grant him immunity from facing trial while destroying the judicial system and annexing the West Bank.
The results of the last two elections, as well as recent opinion polls, show that these two parties, especially Meretz, face the risk of collapsing.
The leader, who has been indicted for bribery, is hysterically yet soberly and determinedly pulling out all the stops to save himself from having to face justice. In so doing, he continues endlessly to incite, to divide, to threaten to take credit for others’ achievements and to lie. He and his family are prepared to burn down the house, and with it the norms of public life in Israel. A century ago, the Irish poet W. B. Yeats bewailed the blindness of leaders who brought on the apocalypse of World War I:
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
The former Labor MK and protest leader says her yet-to-be-named party will “sit in any government that respects its values, include that of Likud,” she says, though she rejects teaming up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I am calling for open primaries for the list, which would bring new energy to the camp and enable setting the list according to the will of the public and not a political deal among political hacks. I will continue to fight for our constituents who believed in our path to be represented in the Knesset.”
But just in case, Shaffir hired campaign staff in order to run independently as head of the Green Party, which would also include former Zionist Union MK Yael Cohen-Paran.
“Politicians who continue to behave like politicos who try all day long to disband camps and to make deals in closed rooms won’t receive a mandate from the public. That’s the reason why the left was weakened in the past and those are the people who threaten to finish it off.” She went on to say, “Our public deserves to decide in a quick and open primary who will represent it in the Knesset. We established the Democratic Camp and we deserve a democratic leadership like that all over the world.”
Belonging to the left means holding a wide-ranging worldview, based on the belief that all humans are born equal, worthy of equal and fair treatment. This is why the left fights for weaker segments of society, for laborers and for migrants. This is why a true left must fight for people who are living under an occupation that deprives them of the most fundamental rights while preventing them from fulfilling their national aspirations of living in a state of their own, alongside Israel.
Protesters chanted „Bibi go home,“ and waved signs reading: „Netanyahu, let go already,“ „Netanyahu, you should quit“, and „The corrupt should go home“. MK Stav Shapir of the Democratic Camp, who was one of the organizers, said that protests will continue throughout the week in other cities as well, such as Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem.
In principle, the candidate whom the president grants the right to form a government does not need a majority of 61 to do so. All that is really needed is a situation in which more hands vote in favor of the government than oppose it.
MK Ofer Shelah of Kahol Lavan, who was interviewed after Tibi, said he did not rule out such a proposal.
It could have ended far worse. If Netanyahu had won a few more Knesset seats, he would have secured immunity from prosecution, set up the most extreme government in Israeli history and finished his demolition derby of the country’s democracy. A rare convergence of favorable circumstances – chiefly the uptick in Arab voter participation, the failure of Kahanist Otzma Yehudit and the indifference of Likud voters – combined to spare Israel from a disaster that would have changed the country forever.
In the process, Netanyahu has successfully relegated what was supposed to be the central issue of this election – his alleged corruption and prospects of indictment – to the sidelines. He has deftly shifted the focus of the campaign to his fortes in national security and foreign affairs. Come what may, he has proven once again that he is the undisputed heavyweight champion of Israeli election campaigns, making his rivals look like clueless amateurs in comparison.
Many of the burning issues that are facing Israel barely got a look-in during the election campaign that’s mercifully drawing to a close: the ballooning deficit, the rising housing prices, the climbing cost of living, the burning need to integrate the ultra-Orthodox and Arab communities into the job market, to name just a few. And then of course, the lack of any prospect for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an end to the occupation got nary a mention, but you knew that already because you’ve been paying attention and that has become a cliché.
A large majority (76%) of those surveyed supported Hadash MK Ayman Odeh’s declaration last Friday, August 23, that he would join a moderate-center government; 65% of those asked expressed their full support for the Joint List joining a coalition headed by Kahol-Lavan (Blue & White); and 20% responded they neither support nor oppose the such a move.
Youssef Makladeh, the CEO of Statnet, told Maariv: “This isn’t new; past surveys have indicated that the Arab community in Israel is more interested in more pragmatic leadership that will work towards solving more acute issues, such as curbing the spread of violence, [achieving] building permits [for Arab towns], [developing local] infrastructure and sewage management [for their places of residence].” Makladeh added, “For the first time in a decade, an Arab leader has thrown the ball into the court of the Jewish parties.”
Hunting gender-segregated events robs time and energy from the left’s two fundamental raisons d’etre. The first is the struggle against the occupation and racism and the second – safeguarding citizens’ welfare and survival with dignity. As long as the Democratic Union is preoccupied with smoking out religious coercion and fires in the Amazon, it will remain solely within the esoteric borders of its current sector.
In Israel there is no opposition; this disturbing realization is becoming clearer.
Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh is prepared to recommend that Kahol Lavan’s Benny Gantz form a government, and that the united slate of Joint List would be willing to join a center-left coalition, he told in a long interview published by the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper Friday morning.
MK Odeh’s comments drew ire from across the Zionist political spectrum, ranging from Kahol Lavan to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud. In the interview, Odeh formulated a list of demands with regard to the end of the occupation of the Palestinian territories, welfare issues and Arab public needs. If Kahol Lavan accepts these terms, it would prepare the grounds for Joint List to join the government, for the first time in Israeli history.
The Joint List slammed the other political parties, made up of Jewish lawmakers, for not taking an interest in the opinions of Arab lawmakers. „It’s pretty clear that the Zionist parties that make up governments do not acknowledge our natural right to influence decision-making. This was apparent after Ayman Odeh made his declarations and put the political arena to the test.“
Odeh said in an interview with Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot that he would be willing to recommend Gantz to President Reuven Rivlin as the candidate for making up the coalition, and that he would also be open to joining a center-left governing coalition.
On Thursday, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily published a preview of an interview with Odeh that will be published in full on Friday, leading with a quote of him saying he was “willing to join a center-left government.”
However, he laid out several conditions for joining such a coalition.
Ayman Odeh says he’s willing to sit in center-left coalition, demands establishing Palestinian state, ending occupation – but other leaders in his party say they were not consulted on this deal, and Kahol Lavan were quick to rebuff
Speaking to the press in Tel Aviv, the three leaders of the Democratic Union – MK Nitzan Horowitz, MK Stav Shaffir and former prime minister Ehud Barak – also took Blue and White to task for what they described as its right-wing policies, arguing that the party would not replace, but instead participate in, a right-wing government.
The united slate announced Thursday has the far-left Meretz party running with Barak’s new Israel Democratic Party and Stav Shaffir, who left the Labor Party, under the Democratic Camp moniker. It also hopes to bring Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister, out of political retirement.
What it means: While Democratic Camp won’t overtake Netanyahu’s Likud and his right-wing camp, it could combine with the center-left Blue and White party to ensure that Benny Gantz, a former military chief of staff, is tapped to form the government.
MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) called on Saturday for the Democratic Union Party to add an Arab-Israeli to the list during a panel in Baqa al-Gharbiyye.
Zandberg, whose Meretz Party joined forces with the party led by former prime minister Ehud Barak and MK Stav Shaffir, vowed she will do all that is possible to ensure that there is an Arab member at the top of the list.
An enormous and fundamental political battle is breaking out throughout the democratic world, and in Israel, too.
Horowitz said the party would be left-wing and proud, and would not join any right-wing government, even one not led by Netanyahu. The top goal of the party in the agreement its leaders signed was reaching a peace agreement.
“The Israeli Left has returned to be large and influential, and the days of kissing up to the Right are over,” he promised.
Horowitz says alliance is ’setting out on a path that will lead to regime change in Israel‘; Barak, placed 10th on slate, vows to ‚give Netanyahu a fight,‘ while Shaffir calls for Israeli Arabs to see union as their allies
The newly formed “Democratic Union” said in a joint statement it would be made up of Barak’s “Democratic Israel” faction, the dovish Meretz party and senior Labor Party official Stav Shaffir.