Top 10 headlines of 2018: Politics

A year of highlights and lowlights in Israel: Politics

Aliza Bloch

Five Highs

1 - A trailblazer wins over Beit Shemesh's haredi incumbent 
Religious Zionist high school principal Aliza Bloch pulls off an upset win over haredi (ultra-Orthodox) incumbent Moshe Abutbul, who barely even campaigned, because he thought the election was in his pocket due to political deals. Bloch, who had an extensive platform on helping English-speaking immigrants to her city, declares in her victory speech that she will also help haredim better than her predecessor.
2 - Einat Kalisch Rotem becomes the first female mayor of one of the largest cities in Israel
Rotem defeated incumbent Yona Yahav in Haifa. The number of female mayors was nearly doubled from seven to 13, but that is still a small percentage of the 257 local councils in Israel.
3 - Extremists out as Knesset disperses
The Knesset's December dispersal is ending the political career of firebrand anti-Zionist Balad MK Jamal Zahalka, and apparently Haneen Zoabi as well. Zahalka cannot run for a fourth term in his party and Zoabi is expected to be forced out. 
4 - The number of women MKs hits a record 35
When Balad MK Neven Abu Rahmoun was sworn into office in August, the number of female MKs hit a record 35. It looked like for a while like it would hit 36, when Osnat Mark replaced new Beit She'an mayor Jackie Levy in Likud, but before she was sworn in, Avigdor Liberman quit the cabinet and returned to the Knesset in place of female Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky, due to the so-called mini-Norwegian law. 
5 - Mike Pence becomes the first ever US Vice President to speak in the Knesset
Pence is greeted by dozens of standing ovations. He promises that "The USA will never compromise on the safety and security of the State of Israel."

Five Lows

1 - The Yair Netanyahu tapes
Tapes revealed of Yair Netanyahu's drunken rant with friends on his way back from a Friday night visit to strip clubs, in a car driven by a driver and protected by a bodyguard that were all paid for by taxpayer money. In the tapes, he spoke in a demeaning manner about his ex-girlfriend and revealed that he borrowed money to pay for the stripper.
2 - Arabs boycott Jerusalem race
After years of people saying an Arab should run for the Jerusalem city council and try to help Arab citizens of the capital, a candidate courageously runs. But Ramadan Dabash gets only 1.9 percent of the vote, apparently mostly from Jews, after a Fatwa from Muslim religious leaders warned Arabs not to vote in the election, because it would recognize Israeli rule over the city.
3 - Disputes mar the Independence Day ceremony on Mount Herzl
In an effort to win favor with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Culture Minister Miri Regev gives him the main speech at the event that is usually given to the Knesset speaker. An event that is supposed to unify the people of Israel ends up doing the opposite. 
4 - Likud MK Oren Hazan mocks a disabled MK
Hazan calls disabled Meretz MK Ilan Gilon “a half-human”
when Gilon was speaking from the rostrum in the Knesset plenum. This was not the first time the controversial MK made fun of a handicapped colleague.
5 - Former minister Gonen Segev is charged with spying for Iran
The charge gives Israel’s arch foe sensitive information about locations of security centers and the country’s energy industry.
Edited by Natan Rothstein
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