Politics: A political guide for the perplexed
With a quarter of voters undecided, the ‘Post’ maps out party platforms on key issues.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Photo: Pool / Haim Zach
There was good news and bad news this week for Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu. On the one hand, a failed effort by former foreign minister Tzipi
Livni to begin a process intended to unite the three parties on the Center-Left
after the January 22 election helped Netanyahu’s Likud Beytenu stop its tailspin
in the polls and win back two seats it had lost to its satellite
Ironically, Livni helped Netanyahu by persuading voters that it
is not a foregone conclusion that he will form the next
President Shimon Peres’s criticism of Netanyahu’s policies
also made it less farfetched that Peres could ask one of the Center-Left’s
leaders to form the government instead of Netanyahu. This could happen if the
three parties together win five more Knesset seats than Likud Beytenu and the
haredi parties get a better offer from the Left than they do from the
But on the other hand, assuming that Netanyahu will still form the
next coalition, that task became much harder this week due to statements by Yesh
Atid leader Yair Lapid. He said he would not join Netanyahu’s coalition without
at least one other Center-Left party, and he hinted that he might not join a
coalition with Shas at all.
Since Labor has ruled out joining any
Netanyahu-led government, the only other Center- Left party guaranteed to pass
the 2- percent electoral threshold is The Tzipi Livni Party, which is unlikely
to join a coalition with Bayit Yehudi because of the stark difference between
the parties on the Palestinian issue.
The best way to solve this problem
is for Kadima to win the estimated 70,000 votes needed to pass the threshold and
join the coalition with Yesh Atid. Kadima’s aggressive campaign advertisements,
which started this week, could help.
Other ways are for Shas to make
compromises on haredi service or for Bayit Yehudi to not obsess over the
Palestinian issue. Shas triumvirate leader Arye Deri and Bayit Yehudi leader
Naftali Bennett both revealed surprising flexibility to The Jerusalem Post over
the past week.
But with all due respect to the coalition conundrums,
there are still 11 days left before the election, and much can still change.
Polls have indicated that as many as one quarter of the voters are still
To help such voters, The Jerusalem Post has compiled the
following Guide to the Perplexed about the 14 parties that have passed the
threshold in at least three polls. Much of the information comes from the Israel
Democracy Institute, which compiled platforms of all the parties for its
Election Compass, which can be found on JPost.com.
Performance: 42 mandates (27 Likud, 15 Yisrael Beytenu)
Poll position: 33-36
Candidates on cusp: Alex Miller, Leon Litinetsky, David Bitan, Uri Farej
Highest on the list is Daniel Hershtal, Toronto, 73rd
Netanyahu supports a demilitarized Palestinian state; the Likud does not.
Yisrael Beytenu supports demographic separation via a territory and population
Socioeconomic platform: The Likud boasts creation of 350,000
jobs, cellular reform; wants housing reform. Yisrael Beytenu embraces both
social compassion and the notion of a free economy.
platform: Yisrael Beytenu wants universal service for all Israelis, including
Previous Performance: 13
Poll position: 16-18
cusp: Danny Atar, Ghaleb Majadle, Nadia Hilu
Anglos: Chili Tropper, New York,
Diplomatic platform: Favors immediate return to peace talks without
preconditions based on the 2000 Clinton plan, strengthening relations with the
West and rehabilitating and initiating new connections with moderate Muslim
Socioeconomic platform: Favors increasing public expenditures
by collecting more tax revenues from the rich; will work for fairer wages for
employees, lower cost of living.
Religion/State platform: Supports civil
marriage, wants to help haredim be able to work but not force them to serve;
opposes opening businesses on Shabbat because wants workers to have a day off.
Previous Performance: 3 (+2 in National Union)
Poll position: 13-16
Candidates on cusp: Hillel Horowitz, Jeremy Gimpel, Naci Eyan, Rachamim Nisimi
Anglos: Jeremy Gimpel, Atlanta, 14th; Uri Bank, Chicago, 19th
platform: Supports annexing Area C in Judea and Samaria; would create geographic
continuity between the remaining areas of the West Bank that would be controlled
by the Palestinians in an entity that would either be autonomous or confederated
Socioeconomic platform: Committed to lowering prices,
including price of housing.
Religion/State platform: Wants religious
Zionists to take back Chief Rabbinate; to expand national service for haredim;
and encourage Jewish pride.
Previous Performance: 11
Candidates on cusp: Nisim Ze’ev, Avraham Michaeli, Yoav Ben-Tzur, Lior
Diplomatic platform: Arye Deri says Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia
Yosef wants a longterm interim agreement with the Palestinians. The rest
of Shas is more conservative.
Socioeconomic platform: Favors affirmative
action for Sephardim to ease the social gap, wants to prevent budget cuts from
harming poor families.
Religion/State platform: Supports the right for
those studying Torah to continue to do so, while encouraging incremental changes
that have brought more haredim into service, academic programs, and the
Previous Performance: New
Poll position: 9-12
Candidates on cusp: Adi Kol, Karin Elharar, Mickey Levy, Shimon Solomon
Dov Lipman, Maryland, 17th
Diplomatic platform: Favors diplomatic negotiations
with Palestinians on an agreement in which Israel keeps settlement blocs;
undivided Jerusalem; and Jordan Valley IDF presence.
platform: Sees helping middle class, small businesses as key to economic growth;
has a plan to reduce monthly utility costs.
Demands equal service for all while taking the needs of the haredim into account
via a plan that will be implemented over five years. Backs religious pluralism,
taking power away from haredim.
TZIPI LIVNI PARTY
New (7 MKs shifted from Kadima)
Poll position: 7-11
Candidates on cusp: Yoel
Hasson, Shlomo Molla, Merav Cohen, Orit Zuaretz, Aharon Valensi
Tal, North Carolina, 13th; Rumi Zonder-Kislev, Ontario, 31st
platform: Would revive the peace process and the hope of reaching a lasting
accord with Israel’s neighbors on a two-state peace.
platform: Has plan to reduce social inequities and restore equality of
opportunity to the country. Supports increased minimum wage and public housing;
backs differential value-added tax, canceling subsidies for West Bank and
Religion/State platform: Seeks to reestablish Israel as a free
society respectful of different approaches to Jewish life and offering equal
support to all streams in Judaism.
UNITED TORAH JUDAISM
Performance: 5 Poll position: 5-7 Candidates on cusp: Menahem Moses, Yisrael
Eichler, Ya’acov Asher Anglos: None Diplomatic platform: Will ask its rabbis
when the questions are practical and no longer theoretical.
platform: Boasts passing dozens of laws on socioeconomic
Religion/State platform: Calls for maintaining status quo on all
matters of religion and state.
Previous Performance: 3
Candidates on cusp: Michal Rozin, Isawi Freij, Tamar Zandberg
Diplomatic platform: Wants immediate de facto recognition of a
Palestinian state, diplomatic negotiations on a comprehensive deal on core
issues to replace the Oslo Accords to be guaranteed by a new regional quartet of
Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, which would also work on a peace
initiative with the Arab world.
Socioeconomic platform: Backs changing
taxation system to ease inequality; deprivatizing formerly government services;
stopping favoritism to settlers and haredim in the state
Religion/State platform: Calls for freedom of religion and
freedom from religion and passing legislation to ensure religious pluralism and
prevent religious coercion.
UNITED ARAB LIST
Previous Performance: 4
Candidates on cusp: Masun Gnaim, Taleb Abu-Arar
Diplomatic platform: Demands Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders; creation of
a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital; dismantling all
settlements in Golan Heights and in the West Bank.
platform: Wants more funding for Muslim religious sites and for Arab
Religion/State platform: Muslim religious party advocates
protecting Muslim religion and Arab minority; giving Islamic religious courts
Previous Performance: 4
Poll position: 3-4
Candidates on cusp: Dov Henin, Afo Agbaria
Wants Israel to withdraw from all occupied territories, help establish a
Palestinian state and make peace with the rest of the world via the Saudi plan.
Would recognize the Arab population of Israel as a minority group with protected
Socioeconomic platform: Would set a minimum wage of 60 percent of
the average wage, raise child welfare payments by 40% and cancel
Religion/State platform: Wants a constitution that would
guarantee the secular character of the state and the equality of its
Previous Performance: 3
Poll position: 3-4
cusp: Basel Ghatas, Juma Azbarga
Diplomatic platform: Champions turning the
State of Israel into a “state of all of its citizens” with an Israeli withdrawal
from all of the contested territories; granting the right of return to all
Palestinians to a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its
Socioeconomic platform: Favors a just tax policy aimed at the
equitable distribution of social resources, including a capital gains tax and a
policy of tax cuts in general, and particularly for low-wage
Religion/State platform: Advocates separation of religion and
state; demands recognition of Israeli Arabs as a national minority and
preserving their national, cultural and ethnic uniqueness.
Previous Performance: 28
Poll position: 0-3
Candidates on cusp: Shaul Mofaz,
Israel Hasson, Yohanan Plesner
Diplomatic platform: Would withdraw
from Palestinian areas of the West Bank via a long-term interim agreement and
then withdraw to final borders following negotiations with Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas.
Socioeconomic platform: Emphasizes easing social
gaps between the haves and have-nots.
Religion/State platform: Calls for
equalizing the salaries of IDF soldiers, who make NIS 352 a month, with those of
kollel students, who the party claims make up to NIS 3,400 from governmental
Previous Performance: 2 (as part of National
Poll position: 0-4
Candidates on cusp: Arieh Eldad, Michael Ben-Ari,
Baruch Marzel, Aryeh King
Anglos: Baruch Marzel, Boston, Aryeh King, New York
Diplomatic platform: Wants to annex all of Judea and Samaria, cancel the Oslo
agreements and dismantle the Palestinian Authority police.
platform: Would increase benefits to immigrants who bring their businesses to
Israel. Wants to increase competition and prevent monopolies, while limiting
Religion/State platform: Would protect rights of Jews to pray on
Temple Mount, favors eliminating Arabic as an official language.
Previous Performance: New (Haim Amsalem used to be in Shas)
Candidates on cusp: Haim Amsalem, Moshe Tzarfati, Reuven Agassi
Anglos: Ariel Konstantyn, New York, 8th
Diplomatic platform: Consider itself
Socioeconomic platform: Focuses on enabling the poorest
sectors to remove themselves from the endless struggle to
Religion and State: Aim to restore moderate Judaism to Israel by
transforming the Chief Rabbinate to reflect a lenient and Zionistic Judaism;
educating and inspiring all citizens to serve in the IDF; demanding at least
national or civil service; creating haredi yeshiva high schools and joint
yeshiva and college programs as preparation for entrance into the
Offers moderate plan for resolving conversion
Previous Performance: Did not pass threshold
Candidates on cusp: None
Anglos: Keith Lawrence Goldstein,
Northbrook, Illinois, 14th in Pirate Party; Daniel Goldstein, New York, 2nd in
Calcala; Benny Goldstein, Skokie, Illinois, 3rd in Calcala.
Socioeconomic platform: Varied