BLOG 425 March 17, 2019
WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST ~ Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.
How the Israeli Government system operates
Israel’s election is a free for all: Instead of two major parties, there’s a whopping total of 47 parties competing at the ballot box. Israelis vote for parties, not individual. The more votes a party gets, the more seats it has in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, the Knesset. A government is formed by a party — more likely a coalition of like-minded parties — that captures more than 60 seats. More than a dozen parties could make the next Knesset. Here’s a short description of each of them from The Times of Israel.
Likud, Israel’s right-wing flagship, and Netanyahu’s party, opposes a Palestinian state, supports settlements and encourages privatization in the economy. The longtime prime minister is seeking his fifth term.
Blue and White is a new centrist coalition led by a former military chief of staff, Benny Gantz. It was created to oppose Netanyahu and his alleged corruption.
The New Right is kind of like Likud on steroids, the party staunchly opposes Palestinian statehood and supports settlement growth, and features a very hawkish defense policy — what its platform calls an “iron fist” against Israel’s enemies.
Jewish Home-Jewish Power is the controversial union between a religious Zionist party and a far-right party, also known as Otzma Yehudit, that supports implementing religious law and waging “total war” on Israel’s enemies. As of late, Netanyahu has been courting this vote to be part of his cabinet which has created a strong backlash.
Israel Beiteinu champions the interests of Russian-speaking immigrants, along with a hard-line defense policy that calls for the execution of terrorists.
Kulanu is a center-right party focused on lowering Israel’s high cost of living.
In the last elections, held in March 2015, the Netanyahu-led Likud won 30 seats and formed a coalition with smaller right-wing and religious parties (Jewish Home, United Torah Judaism, Kulanu and Shas, with Israel Beiteinu joining a year later). If the coalition were to fall apart — a minister leaving the government, for example — Netanyahu would lose his coalition, lose control of the government and must call new elections.
A “free for all?” Sounds more like Rugby!