Showing posts with label Israeli election 2013. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israeli election 2013. Show all posts

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Israeli Election is Over: Coalition Talks Begin

On Wednesday, we received the official results from the January 22, 2013 Israeli election.  These results have now been slightly adjusted and we have received the "final" official result as of approximately 5 p.m. on Thursday January 24, 2013.  Apparently, there were still ballots to be counted from military personnel, prisons, hospitals and foreign-stationed diplomats.  After counting all of these ballots  (approximately 220,000), a few changes have now been announced.  Naftali Bennett's party, HaBayit Hayehudi has increased by one seat to 12 and the United Arab List has dropped to 4 from 5. Yair Lapid and the Yesh Atid party have remained stable at 19 seats.  The Yesh Atid party still seems to be in the driver's seat as the front runner to help build a government with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Lapid has a wide ranging and interesting background.  The son of Tommy Lapid, late leader of the Shinui ("change") party, a secular party which reached 15 Knesset seats in 2003, Yair Lapid has politics in his family background.  In addition to his political career, he has also been involved in many other activities.  He has written well known Israeli songs, tried amateur kick-boxing (which he still practices 1-2 hours a day - even while on the campaign trail), acted in Israeli shows and worked as a TV news commentator.  He has also brought a refreshing approach to bridging the secular-religious divide in Israel.  For example, or a number of years, he ran a Shavuoth night "tikkun" - an all night learning program that  focused on a wide range of topics of Jewish interest rather than pure Torah study.

With his new political party, Lapid has emphasized a new approach to politics in Israel and an effort to represent the silent majority - the non-ultra-orthdox, army-serving, middle class, zionist Israelis.  Among other platforms, Lapid has called for efforts to increase the availability of lower cost housing, and to ensure that all Israelis, at the age of 18, including ultra-orthodox and Arabs, serve in the army or perform some type of national service.  He has vowed to insist on these demands as part of his fundamental terms for joining any coaltion government.  He has also vowed to insist that the peace process with the Palestinians be re-ignited.

As of yesterday, the left-centre "bloc" in Israel, including the Arab parties and Yesh Atid made up exactly 1/2 of the new Knesset - 60 seats - with the right and right-centre bloc, including the ultra-orthodox, making up the other 60.  As a result of this afternoon's announcement, adjusting the results, the right bloc now has 61 seats and could, theoretically, form a very right wing/ultra-orthodox coaltion that could hold the majority by 2 seats.  Most commentators feel that Prime Minister Netanyahu does not want to go down this road for a number of reasons.  The government would be very fragile.  The Prime Minister would be under constant threat of different coalition members leaving the government if they were not provided with new concessions.  Many of the concessions Prime Minister Netanyahu would have to make, particularly to the ultra-orthodox would be unpalatable to much of the Israeli public including many who voted for Netanyahu's party, Likud.  So there is a real sense that Prime Minister Netanyahu  very much intends to enter into a coalition agreement with Yesh Atid.

But this is where the fun starts.  Lapid has indicated that he has three key demands in order to enter the government:

1.   Most imporantly - an equal sharing of the "burden" of military/ national service.  Lapid proposes that all Israelis, with the exception of a very small number of ultra-orthodox, super-bright scholars, will be required to serve in the army or perform national service.  Prime Minister Netanyahu has made statements indicating that he is prepared to support this idea, although it is unclear whether he will be willing to follow it through.  The other left and left-centre parties - such as Labor, Meretz, Hatenuah and Kadima would support this type of legislated change.  It may also be the case that Naftali Bennett's party, Habayit Heyehudi, would also support a modified version of this type of law. Bennett might also support changes to Israeli laws that deal with zoning restrictions on land and other laws that would, generally, help bring about a lower cost of living in Israel.  So there is a good chance that Lapid could wind up in a government with Netanyahu and Bennett, which would make significant domestic changes that many Israelis would appreciate.  It is hard to imagine that these terms (at least universal conscription) are terms to which the Shas party (with its 11 Knesset seats) would agree.  So this scenario might see a government without Shas, the ultra-religious party that has historically extracted massive concessions in exchange for joining coalition governments.

2.  Lapid has also indicated that another key demand is a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue with a view to negotiating an agreement.  Of course, just starting talks does not mean that they would go anywhere.  Lapid has firmly stated that he would not be prepared to divide Jerusalem and that view probably represents a significant majority view in Israel.  The Palestinian Authority described the visit by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the Kotel on the eve of the Israeli elections as a "provocation."  But this is Judaism's holiest site.  There are no conditions, in the foreseeable future, under which Israel would cede control of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Lapid has also indicated that the Palestinian refugee problem should be solved by the Palestinians in their new state when an agreement is reached.  This makes eminent sense and is a view that also enjoys wide ranging Israeli public support.

These two issues, Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugee problem, have supposedly caused or contributed to collapses in talks in the past.  But realistically, no Israeli government, even a left wing government would be prepared or even able to make major concessions on these points.

On the other hand, Lapid has indicated a willingness to support a two-state solution and to come to terms with Palestinians on mutually agreeable borders, which could even include the removal of some Jewish settlements.  It is quite clear Bennett's party is not prepared to make any such concessions and would refuse to join a government that planned to do so.  So while Bennett may be prepared to support some of Lapid's domestic agenda, he will not support Lapid's foreign policy. 

3.  Lapid's third demand is for a reform to education to ensure that everyone studies secular subjects in school. This is strongly opposed by Shas, but not necessarily by Bennett.  Netanyahu has indicated that he would be prepared to support this type of change.

Overall, Shas is on the opposite of Bennett on a number of these issues.  While they might support Bennett's foreign policy views, they would oppose most of his domestic agenda and would insist on continued support for much of the ultra-religious political agend, which Lapid has staunchly opposed, and which make up two of his three main platform ideas. 

So it looks like the Netanyahu-Lapid coalition, if it happens, will either include Shas - and maintain much of the status quo on the domestic front while moving ahead on the diplomatic front - or it will include Bennett and it will make signficant changes domestically but drag its feet on foreign policy matters including negotiations ,with the Palestinians, if they take place at all.

For now, the likeilhood seems to be the addition of Habayit Hayehudi.  This may well result in some very real and tangible gains for the left-centre, domestically, but it is unlikely to result in any progress with respect to peace talks and peace efforts.  Of course, if Lapid is able to demonstrate tangible accomplishments for at least part of his platform, that may well improve his political capital and open the door to changes in other areas in the future.

In the meantime, it is worth remembering that the Shas party negotiators are very experienced in these matters.  They may yet offer some concessions on the issue of universal conscription and may show a willingness to support a broad peace initiative.  It is quite conceivable, though, admittedly less likely, that Shas could be part of a Lapid-Netanyahu government that could make progress in a few different areas.

Some commentators are estimating that it may take up to six weeks for this coalition negotiation process to unfold.  This is where we will see the real results of this election.  This process is sure to be even more interesting than the election itself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Israeli Election 2013 - Official Results

Here are the final results of yesterday's Israeli election - according to the Israeli press.  These results could still change slightly - though they are apparently based on more than 99% of the actual polling station results.  If there are any changes from these numbers, they would be very minor.

Likud 31                     Right/Right-Centre            Same as exit polls
Yesh Atid 19             Left/Left-Centre                 Same
Labour 15                   Left                                     Down 2 seats from exit polls
Shas 11                       Ultra-Religious                  Down 1
Bayit Yehudi - 11      Religious/Right                  Down 1
Meretz 6                     Left                                      Down 1
Hatenuah 6                 Left-Centre                         Down 1
Yehadut HaTorah 7   Ultra-Religious                  Up 1
Hadash 4                    Arab/Left                             Up 1
Raam-Taal 5              Arab/Left                             Up 1  
Balad 3                       Arab/Left                             Up 1

Kadima (Mofaz) 2     Centre                                  Up 2

With these new numbers, the "right wing bloc" as it is referred to by the Israeli press - which includes Likud, Bayit Yehudi and the two religious parties, Shas and Yehadut HaTorah sits at a total of 60 seats, which would not provide them with a sufficient number of Knesset members to form a government (61 would be required).  To form a government, Prime Minister Netanyahu will have to make compromises with at least some of the centre or left-centre parties to get them into a coalition government.  In doing so, Netanyahu will have some very interesting challenges.  He may choose to start by negotiating a deal with the number two party, Yesh Atid.  Assuming he could come to a deal with this party, the deal would probably be attractive to Tsipi Livni and HaTenuah as well.  That would put the three parties at 56.  They would then either need to add religious parties (who have 18 seats - between Shas and Yehadut HaTorah) or they would have to add the right wing Bayit Hayehudi (with 11).  Much of Lapid's campaign has focused on reducing the influence of the ultra-religious parties in Israel - ensuring that the ultra-religious are conscripted to the army, reducing the amount of money paid to Yeshivas.  So it is hard to see how Netanyahu will be able to build a government with both Yesh Atid and the religious parties.

If Netanyahu chooses to add Bennett's party (Habayit Hayehudi), there will also be significant hurdles.  While Habayit Hayehudi might go along with some form of universal conscription (they are a religious party but a party of "modern Orthodox" who serve in the army), Bennett is strongly opposed to some of Lapid's ideas with respect to the peace process.  If this type of coalition is arranged, it might lead to significant domestic policy changes but it is hard to see how a government that includes Bennett would make any meaningful changes to the policies of the current Israeli government with repect to the Palestinians.

So in either case, it will be tricky for Netanyahu, who will likely be required to include Yesh Atid plus either the ultra-religious parties or the more nationalist party, both of which have interests that conflict with those of Yesh Atid.

Netanyahu could aim for a broader coaltion with Lapid, Labour and even Meretz.  However, this seems quite unlikely.  Labour's leader Sheli Yacomovitch has attacked Netanyahu at every opportunity and has railed against the possibility of another Likud led government.  She has stated very clearly she would not join.  While this might be a wonderful bargaining tactic, it is hard to see how Labour would wind up in a goverment with Likud this time around.  Meretz is even further to the left.

One other option is that the left and left-centre bloc could try to form a coalition with the religious parties and take over the government.  T|his is what Labour leader Yacomovitch was suggesting last night that she would try to do.  However, she is sitting at only 15 seats.  Even if she added 18 ultra-religious seats, that would get her to 33.  Add Meretz and she has 39.  She could add Tsipi Livni and get up to 45.  She could get the support of the Arab parties and that would get her to 57.  Would Lapid want to join this type of government, which would rely heavily on including 18 ultra-religious Knesset members and 12 Arab members of the Knesset?  This seems extremely unlikely.  I would have to conclude that Labour is going to be part of the opposition unless it dramatically changes its rhetoric very soon.

So overall, it looks like a government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, and moderated, perhaps significantly, by Yair Lapid.  We should see some signficant changes in direction.  If the government includes Shas and Yehadut HaTorah but not Habayit Hayehudi, we may see movement towards reopening peace negotiations with the Palestinians but not nearly as much domestic change as Lapid might have liked.  If the government includes Habayit Hayehudi but not the ultra-religious parties, we could see signficant domestic change but not necessarily any movement on Israeli-Palestinian issues.  Of course, coalition negotiations in Israel never cease to amaze, so we could see some very interesting surprises.  Prime Minister Netanyahu is very experienced in handling these negotiations and has managed to put together some very stable Israeli governments.  As he said in his speech last night, it is time for him to get to work and start negotiating.

The next few weeks - or even months of coalition building and horse trading will be fascinating.  We will only understand that real results and meaning of this election once we see the make up of the new coalition government.  In either case, it is almost certain that there will be some movement to the left on either domestic issues, foreign policy issues or perhaps even both.  

Postscript:  See my subsequent posts - but the "final results" have Bayit Hayehudi at 12 and Ra'am-Tal down to 4.  I have discussed the implications of this in my Jan 24 post - Election is Over: Coalition Talks Begin.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Israel Election Day Jan 22, 2013

Polling Station Sign
Israeli election day is finally here - my first opportunity to vote in an Israeli election.  There are many choices - more than 30 parties, of which 13-16 are expected to win seats.  There are more than 5,600,000 eligible voters.  As of 5 p.m. this afternoon, estimates are that the voter turnout is approximately 5% higher than in the last national election, although polls will still remain open in most areas until 10 p.m. and some people may have simply voted earlier this election.  To win a seat in the 120 seat Knesset, a party needs 2% of the total votes.  With an expected voter turnout of approximately 80%, that would translate into a total of 4,480,000 voters.  Parties will get one seat for each 89,600 votes, approximately.

Party List and Abbreviations
We decided to head over the local polling station at about 3 p.m., figuring that this might be an "off-time."  Our polling station was at a local middle school, which was using three rooms as three different polling stations.  At the polling station, there is a list posted of all of the eligible parties and a short letter combination as the symbol for each party.  

At our polling station, we had a line up of about 20 people waiting to vote.  Each station allows only one person into the room at a time and there is only one ballot box. So we had to wait for a total of about 40 minutes until we were able to vote.  In order to vote, you are required to present appropriate photo ID - a driver's licence, valid passport or national I.D. card ("te'udat zeut") proving that your current address matches the polling station and, of course, that you are eligible to vote.  Israelis must be in Israel, physically, to vote with a few limited exceptions.  Unlike the U.S., you cannot generally vote as an "absentee voter."

View Inside Ballot Box
The voting system itself, to someone who is not used to this system, seems to be a bit confusing.  Inside the ballot box, there are piles of paper in compartments representing each of the different parties.  Each paper has the name of a different party written on it - or at least the 2 or 3 letter abbreviation for the party.  Voters pick the piece of paper with the party for whom they are voting and place it in the envelope.  They seal the envelope and then bring it over to the four polling station supervisors and place it in the ballot box in front of the witnesses.  The whole process seems to me to be unnecessarily complicated.  I would have thought that there should be a pre-printed list with the thirty or so parties, clearly named, and an opportunity for people to place an "X" next to whichever party they choose.  Nevertheless, this has apparently been the system for years and there is always some inertia to these processes. 

I just can't figure out why the parties should all be abbreviated into a letter or two, which bear no relation to the party name.  This just seems to add an unnecessary layer of confusion.  The party name should be first and foremost in large, clearly legible letters.  If it must be abbreviated, it should be a simple abbrevation of the party's actual name - for example, the first two letters.  Instead, the one or two letter abbreviation that is used is completely unrelated to the name of the party.  While I had narrowed down the list of which party would be getting my vote to two or three parties, I had checked in advance which two or three letter abbreviations they were using. 

So I made my decision and placed the sealed envelope into the ballot box. The next step is to wait for the results, which will begin rolling in at about 10 p.m. Israel time. 

Meanwhile, Israeli T.V. is reporting that Israelis are greatly enjoying election day.  It is a national holiday.  Shopping malls are open and have apparently been quite full with many election day specials taking place.  The beaches have also been quite crowded as it has been a beautiful, sunny day.   Many others have been travelling to national parks, barbecuing outdoors and spending time with family and friends.  Closing everything on Election Day is a big expense for the Israeli economy but it creates an atmosphere of a very special event.  It will be interesting to see whether there is anything special about the results.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Israeli Elections 2013: Preview

With Israeli national elections approaching on January 22, 2013, I thought it was about time that I provided a bit of information and perspective on the coming elections.  It will be my first opportunity to vote in Israel, though I'm not writing this article as a partisan piece.  I thought I would look at trends and anticipated outcomes.

As many of you know, Israel is a parliamentary democracy with a 120 seat legislative assembly, the "Knesset."  Like in other similar systems (Canada, Britain, to name a couple), a party is required to cobble together a majority in order to govern.  A governing coalition requires more than 61 seats to hold the confidence of the Knesset.

The Knesset

The challenge in Israel, of course, is that each Israeli believes that he or she can and should run the country.  New political parties are constantly being formed, old ones disbanded and new coalitions arranged.  Things are very volatile, to put it mildly.

Following the last election in 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put together a very stable coalition (by Israeli historical standards).  The numbers ranged from 66 to 74 over the course of this term in office but the coalition was never really threatened.  The government was made up of a multi-party coalition which included the Likud party, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Yisrael Beitenu party lead by Avigdor Lieberman (who has now been indicted), some religious and ultra-religious parties and the leftist Labour Party.  It is interesting to note that some of the most vociferous condemnation of the current government has come from the leader of the Labor Party, even though Labor was an integral part of the governing coaliton.

Prime Minister Netanyahu
For the current election, there have been some very interesting changes for some of the parties. While at this point, there seems to be little doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be reelected, the big issue is what type of coalition he will put together and what policies that government will embrace.

The "Right Wing" Parties

The two major right wing or right centre parties are Likud and Yisrael Beitenu ("Israel, Our Home")Founded by former Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1973, Likud has been one of the two dominant Israeli political parties for more than 30 years.  Its membership includes members with a range of view points from those who support a negotiated two-state peace solution with the Palestinians to those who favour annexation of much, if not all, of the disputed territories (Judea and Semaria or the West Bank).  On its own in the last election, Likud won 27 seats.

Avigdor Lieberman
Yisrael Beitenu is a party led by Avigdor Lieberman, who was serving as Israel's Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister until December 2012 at which time he was charged with fraud and breach of trust.  Yisrael Beitenu won 15 seats in the last election.  While characterized as a right wing nationalist party, Yisrael Beitenu favours a two-state solution including territory swaps with the Palestinians.  Lieberman has called for the Israeli government to demand "loyalty" from its Arab citizens and has also called for a reduction in the power of Israel's religious authorities.

Likud and Yisrael Beitenu have now merged and are running as one party for the current elections.  Most recent polls estimate that they will win anywhere from 32 to 37 seats.  The combined total will almost certainly be lower than the 42 that these two parties won in the 2009 election.

One of the big surprises of the campaign to date has been the newly named party Habayit Hayehudi (the Jewish Home).  Its leader Naftali Bennett, a youthful and successful entrepreneur oversaw a merger of the Jewish Home and National Union parties and won more than 60% of the combined leadership race.  The party has an avowedly right wing platform, favouring annexation of the disputed territories, even though Bennett himself lives in the wonderful city of...Ra'anana.  Bennett has used a mixture of facebook advertising, carefully produced videos and his own energetic appeal to build growing support.  While many might characterize Bennett's views as extremist, current polls have estimated that Bennett may win between 13 and 18 seats in the Knesset.

Naftali Bennett
 One other "right wing" party, Otzma L'Yisrael ("Strength for Israel) could also win anywhere from 0 to 4 seats.  This was a group that splintered off from the newly merged Bennett party.

Overall, the "right wing" parties, which are not characterized as "religious" are projected to win anywhere from 45 to 59 seats.  This is quite a variance and will have a tremendous impact on the type of government that is formed.  If the combined numbers are closer to 45, the group will almost certainly be forced to combine with some of the centrist parties to form a fairly broad coalition.  If the group is close to, or even over 60, it could combine with some of the religious parties and produce a very stable, very right wing government, politically and even economically.

The Religious Parties

Shas is an ultra-religious party dedicated to furthering the interests of observant Sephardic and Mizrachi Jews.  It has formed governments with the right and the left over the past 20 years - and has been willing to bend on some of its principles, as long as there is lots of money available for its constituents.  Several Shas Knesset Members have been convicted of offences including fraud, forgery and bribery.   One of those convicted, well known member, Aryeh Deri is now the number two candidate on the Shas list and will almost certainly be elected in the coming elections.  Polling numbers for Shas have been quite consistent.  Estimates range from 9 to 12 seats, with most polls at 10 or 11.

Aryeh Deri

United Torah Judaism, another ultra-religious party, is estimated to win between 5 and 6 seats.

So the ultra-religious block is expected to have somewhere between 14 and 18 seats, which would position it well to join a government in exchange for all kinds of concessions.

Throughout Israel's history, left wing and right wing governments have been prepared to make major concessions to this religious block to bolster their governments.  Some of the resulting policies have included exemptions from the army for Yeshiva students, exclusive legal jurisdiction for the religious over personal status matters including weddings and funerals and control of many other aspects of Israeli life, ranging from limitations on public transportation on Shabbat to laws prohibiting the sale of Hametz (leavened bread) on Pesach.   Of course the flip side is that at least some of these laws enjoy fairly widespread public support, even among non-Orthodox Jews.

The Centrist Parties

There are currently three centrist parties that are expected to win seats in the coming election - Kadima, Yesh Atid and Hatnuah.

Formed in 2005 by moderate Likud members, Kadima reached a high point of 29 seats in the 2006 elections, with a policy platform emphasizing efforts to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.   In the 2009 election, the party won 28 seats under the leadership of Tsipi Livni.  Rather than join a coalition with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Livni opted to remain in opposition.  In 2012, Livni lost a leadership race to Shaul Mofaz.  Following Israel's history of politicians founding new parties, Livni left Kadima and set up her own party, arrogantly named "Hatnuah" - "the Movement."  The party's campaign has featured some fairly bizarre advertising slogans.  Tsipi Livni herself has been viewed as ineffective as an opposition leader.  Nevertheless, it looks like many of the Kadima supporters have deserted Mofaz and flocked to Livni.  The party's platform has emphasized peace, social justice, environmental protection and religious pluralism.  Current estimates suggest that Livni's party may win between 7 and 10 seats.

Tzipi Livni
The other centrist party expected to do well is the party led by well known Israeli media personality Yair Lapid named Yesh Atid ("There is a future").  Lapid's party's platform has included an emphasis on education, religious pluralism, an end to exemptions from military service for the ultra-religious, and efforts to change the Israeli political system.  Lapid's party seems to be running at 9 to 11 seats.

If these two parties, which should be natural allies, combine for between 16 and 21 seats, they could be part of a government and have substantial power.  Lapid has already suggested that he would like to be part of a Likud led government if Likud wins the election while Livni has been more circumspect.
Yair Lapid
The number of seats won by the centre may be the most significant factor in determining what type of government Israel has.  If the centre attracts some Likud supporters and helps limit the cumulative right wing block to less than 50 seats, it will be very important for Likud to include the centre in the government.  If the centrist parties are less successful, Likud may be able to form a government without them, relying only on the religious parties.

The Left

Though the Labor Party was one of Israel's two strongest parties and has been the governing party throughout much of Israel's history, it seems fairly clear that this has been a party on the decline over the past several years.  Perhaps Israel's new economic realities, with a shift over time to more of a capitalist economy have been instrumental in creating this result.  Or perhaps there has been disenchantment over Labor's role in participating in a staunchly right wing Likud coalition.  In any event, under its current leader, Shelly Yacimovich, the party has emphasized social justice issues rather than national security and has tried to position itself as the party most willing to tackle issues of widespread Israeli middle class decline and increasingly high levels of poverty.  Predictions have varied for the Labor Party, but most seem to estimate 16 to 21 seats.     

Over to the left of the Labor Party is Meretz, a party that touts itself as "Israel's Left."  Emphasizing human rights (especially in the area of sexual orientation), social justice, separation of religion and state, dismantling of most Israeli settlements, and humanism, the party is expected to win 3 to 5 seats.

If Labor and Meretz do well in the coming elections, they could have as many as 25 or 26 seats.  This would either be a considerable opposition block - or it could elect to try to form a national unity government though that seems unlikely.    Even if the political left and centre were to combine, the ceiling would probably be in the range of 40 to 45 seats.  Given current Israeli political realities, it seems quite unlikely that the left wing parties will play a significant role in the next government.

The Arab Parties

Israel currently has three Arab or Arab-Socialist parties in the Knesset.  UAL-Ta'al, Balad and Hadash.  They currently have 10 seats between the three of them.  The expectation is that they will be in a similar range following the coming election.  It is unlikely that they will form part of the next government, though it is theoretically possible that these parties could bolster a left-centre coalition.  Given the expected number of seats, it appears that even if the left and the centre combined with the Arab parties, they would still have less than 61 seats.

Israeli MK Ahmed Tibi

Finally, this type of survey article would not be complete without mentioning at least some of the "novelty parties" that are not expected to win seats.

There is the "Green Leaf Party" - I will leave it to you to figure out what they stand for...

How could I not mention the "Kulanu Haverim" ("We are all friends") party, whose members include follows of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev?

And finally - the "Pirate Party" whose members advocate the "freedom to copy" and promote the lifestyle of the piracy sector.

This list is not complete - there are many other parties running, including, for the first time, an Arab Zionist party (El Amal Lat'gir), led by Bedouin politician Aatef Karinaoui.  But time limitations keep me from making this blog article more comprehensive.
Green Leaf...

I will see if I have time to add some additional information between now and the election date.  I will want to be sure to research all of the issues thoroughly to make an informed decision.

For now, a couple of things seem fairly clear to me.  Prime Minister Netanyahu will almost certainly be the next Prime Minister.  Labor and Meretz will almost certainly be in the opposition along with the Arab parties.  The real issue is whether Netanyahu will lead a broad right-centre or right-centre-religious coalition or whether it will be a much narrower right-religious government.  Stay tuned and if you are in Israel and you are eligible - make sure to vote!!