Update at 1 a.m. - the night of Israeli elections - 2013:
As a political junkie (in three different countries), I enjoy election night speeches. I have watched the speeches of the major party leaders tonight - which have been given even before the official results are in. Here are my short summaries (paraphrased in some cases) of their speeches: (Roughly in order that speeches were given):
Shas: Shas is strong, thank G-d. (Biblical quote, followed by another Biblical quote). We have won 11 or 12 seats and plan on playing a major role in the next government. (Additional Biblical quote). Thanks to G-d and to all of our voters. (Excerpt from the Hallel prayer follows).
Bayit Hayehudi (Naftali Bennett): Israel is turning a new page.
We are proud to be Zionists. We strongly support our soldiers and the
Israeli Armed Forces. Everyone is welcome to join with us - at least
everyone who supports Israel - our version of Israel. (Spoken while a
range of Israeli/religious music blares on at set intervals). We are
not afraid to stand up for Israel even in the face of domestic and
international pressure. We don't believe that a single Jewish person
should be required to move from his or her home as part of any peace
deal. In fact, we don't believe a peace deal is possible. This is only the beginning for us.
HeTenuah (Tsipi Livni): Okay I seem to have won less seats than expected. But I didn't start my own party to quit. I plan on staying in the Knesset. Maybe I'll even join the government. I'm still here...for now...
Labour (Shelly Yacimovitch): (This was the craziest speech). Even though we have won 17 seats - and Netanyahu has 33 - the results show that the Israeli public has rejected Likud and chosen the left. Stay tuned to the results and you may see that Netanyahu will not be able to build a coalition and may not be the next Prime Minister.... We will fight with all our might to stop Netanyahu and his capitalist, anti-peace agenda which has created massive poverty in Israel. (Here I am paraphrasing - but this is the gist of her speech).
Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) (Clearly the best speech): Although it is exciting to win so many seats, we have a significant responsibility to our voters to try to bring about change in Israel. We will push our priorities - education, universal enlistment or national service, improving the lives of the middle class in Israel and working towards a peace deal with the Palestinians. We will not give up on our principles and forget about those who elected us. Our party is 50% women, 50% men. It includes religious and secular, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, right wing and left wing members. It is truly a centrist party and we hope to build on our success to date with the goal of improving Israeli society.
Likud (Prime Minister Netanyahu): This speech was given at the exact same time as Lapid's. Some TV stations used split screens and showed both at the same time (with sound). Others (state run TV) only showed Netanyahu. It was one of the shorter speeches:
I am the Prime Minister for a third time. In case you didn't hear me, I am still the Prime Minister (repeat a few more times - six in total, I think). We will aim to build a broad coalition based on the principles that we support. (Interestingly, he mentioned universal enlistment or national service and lowering the price of housing in Israel - bones to Yair Lapid...). In case you didn't hear me - I am the Prime Minister and will continue to be the Prime Minister. Now I have to go and put together a 61 seat coalition - or more. So excuse me - I have to leave. Oh - thank you to Avigdor Lieberman for joining this group - and helping us go from 43 to 31 seats...hopefully you will stay out of jail Avigdor (he didn't say that).
Still waiting for the actual results...