Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

February 6, 2009--Final Election Poll-Explanation of Parties

The final election survey in Israel has been released. Israel Channel 10 released its survey with drama in the studio with the head of Kadima in the studio. The survey, taken over the last three days among 1257 respondents, was similar to other recent polls. It shows the gap closing between Likud and Kadima thanks to the rising support of Lieberman.
Likud 27
Kadima 25
Yisral Beteinu 19

Havado 14
Shas 9
Meretz 6
Yahadut Hatorah 6
Ha’ichud Ha’leumi 4
Ram-Tal 3
Hadash 3

Habayit Hayehudi 2
Balad 2
According to the survey, 15% are completely undecided and another 10% claim not to be semi-undecided. The results of the survey show a clear victory to the parties that are right of center. However, it may be difficult for Netanyahu to put together a coalition and if Kadima ends up bigger than Likud, the problem may become almost impossible. Israel could end up with many more months of Prime Minister Olmert until a coalition is created.
A follow up question shows that those who said that they are planning to vote for Yisrael Beitenu, Kadima and Shas are more certain of their vote than those who said they are planning to vote for Labor or Likud. This could mean a further strengthening of Kadima and the weakening of Likud.
Other interesting questions asked:
Do you support changing the system to give the Prime Minister more power?
47% said yes while 38% said no
Do20you agree to give up the Golan for peace with Syria?
66% said no while 24% said yes

Do you agree to a ceasefire with Hamas?
52% said no while 40% said yes

One of our readers asked if I could explain who the different parties are and what they believe in. That is a big job for a Friday afternoon, however I will explain in short:

Likud: This party is led by Benjamin Netanyahu, is the descendant of the original revisionist party, and was led for many years by Menachem Begin. It is a right of center party. While it says now it supports a two state solution, it opposes the removal of any settlements, says it will never agree to any division of Jerusalem, and opposes giving up the Golan Heights. It has always believed in a free market view, including more privatization of the economy and lower taxes.

Kadima: This is a new party created by Ariel Sharon to break off of the right in Israeli politics. It was created as a centrist party with breakaways from Likud and Labor. Ariel Sharon went into a coma before the last elections and the party has been until recently led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who never had Sharon's popularity. Today it is led by Minister of Foreign Relations Tzpi Livi. It is committed to a two state solution that will require significant territorial compromises, including the removal of a large number of settlements. Its economic policies are pragmatic and20not all that different from Likud, although in this election cycle, Livni has been speaking about large scale government spending to fight the recession while Netanyahu has been talking more about tax cuts.

Yisraeli Beteinu: This party is led by Avigdor Lieberman. It started mostly as a party of Russian immigrants, and is considered a far right party. Lieberman has been outspoken in his attacks against Israeli Arabs, and has spoken about a peace agreement that would include an exchange of territory that would make the very heavily Arab area called the “triangle” (near Kfar Saba) part of a future Arab state. Lieberman is also very committed to civil non religious rights, supporting civil marriage, and opposing the demands of the religious parties. Yisrael Beteinu more than any other party is one of one man: Avigdor Lieberman.

Labor: This is the original Labor party that was the dominate party in the early years of the state. All of Israel's original Prime Minister's were members of labor including Ben Gurion, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, and Yitzhak Rabin. Labor believes in political compromise with the Arabs. It is committed to a two state solution. It believes in larger social spending and bigger safety net for those who are in economic trouble. It is led by Ehud Barak, the current Minister of Defense.

Shas: This is a religious party made up of ethnically Sephardic men. I
ts spiritual head is Rabbi Ovadia Yoseph, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel. It favors additional support of the religious sectors and has campaigned in favor of increasing the child allowances. In its earlier years, its security positions were considered moderate while recently the party has been more and more identified with the right wing and has stated clearly that it intends to enter a coalition with Likud.

Meretz: This is Zionist party of the left of center. It is opposed to all settlements and calls for their removal. It is the most flexible when it comes to territorial compromise. It is strongly committed to a secular state and the removal of religious influence on the government.

Ha’echud Ha’leumi: They are a right wing party manh of whose members come from settlements in the West Bank. They are not neccessarily religious, but the party is committed to not giving up one inch of the Land of Israel

Yehadut Ha’torah: This is the traditional party of the very religious Ashkenazi Jews. It is committed to obtaining as much aid for its members and insuring as much power as possible for the Haredim. It is made up of both Chasidic and non-Chasidic groups.

Ha’bayit Ha’yehudi: This is the descendent of the National Religious Party. It is made up primary of religious Zionists. Many of its members come from settlement in the West bank and the party is committed to strengthening those settlements.

As to the Arab parties: Chadash, the communist party that has its routes as far back as the mandatory eras. While almost all of its voters today are Arab, it strives for Jewish Arab coexistence and always makes sure it has a Jew on its list. The second party is Balad, which is a Pan Arab party. It is an interesting hold out for an ideology that barely exists in the Arab world at this point. The final party is Ram Tal, which is the Islamic party.