Greens find themselves out again

The Green Movement-Meimad, led by Rabbi Michael Melchior, got about 0.8% of the vote.

meimad greens 88 (photo credit: )
meimad greens 88
(photo credit: )
The blow to the Left in Tuesday's election will likely cause a shakeup in the sphere of environmental legislation as well, as several promising green candidates did not make it into the Knesset, and others with high-profile environmental positions may be relegated to the opposition. The country was apparently not ready for an environmental party this time around. Neither the Green Movement-Meimad nor the Greens managed to get close to the two percent of the vote needed to pass the electoral threshold. The Green Movement-Meimad, led by Rabbi Michael Melchior, got about 0.8% of the vote, according to interim results posted Wednesday on the Knesset elections Web site. That represents some 26,000 votes. Melchior, who often championed environmental legislation during his 10 years as an MK and was co-chair of the social-environmental caucus, will be missed by environmentalists in the 18th Knesset The Greens didn't fare well at all, garnering a mere 0.3% or about 10,000 votes. So who's in and who's out as far as green groups are concerned? The 17th Knesset's most prolific environmental legislator, Hadash's Dov Henin, will be in the next Knesset, too. The second most prolific legislator, Labor's Ophir Paz-Pines, is also returning to the legislator, as is UTJ's Moshe Gafni, a stalwart "green." Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor), who has arguably done a lot to push green energy issues forward as national infrastructures minister, will also still be roaming the Knesset corridors, but probably not the ministry's. Newcomers and returning MKs Lea Nass and Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Nitzan Horowitz (New Movement-Meretz) should be interesting to watch. Nass, among other things, founded the Subcommittee for Environmental Threats in the 16th Knesset. Erdan has been active in fighting air pollution as an MK. Newcomer Horowitz, Channel 10's foreign desk editor, has won the Pratt Award for Environmental Journalism and is an alumnus of the Heschel Center's Environmental Fellows program. Absent from the 18th Knesset will be some notable green legislators or potential ones. Esterina Tartman, who formed the lobby to save the Dead Sea, was dropped from the Israel Beiteinu list early on. Meretz's fall cost Mossi Raz and Avshalom Vilan their opportunities to help protect the environment. Raz, who served in the 15th Knesset, was touted as one of Meretz's top environmental legislators. Israel Beiteinu has said it would designate newcomer Anastasia Michaeli to tackle environmental issues on behalf of the party, but she is unproven with no record of environmental activism. However, as the mother of seven children, she might have an interest in preserving the planet for them. Other lawmakers who didn't make it this time, but who were given honorable mention in Israel Union for Environmental Defense reports for the laws they proposed included: Nadia Hilu and Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) and Michael Nudelman, formerly of Kadima, who ran at the head of his own list this time. But Labor's slide to become the fourth biggest party in the Knesset and the rise of the Right could also have serious implications for the environment. Paz-Pines distinguished himself as chairman of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee and Ben-Eliezer's tenure as national infrastructures minister pushed forward a lot of green energy initiatives. However, with Labor drastically shrunken, and possibly in the opposition to boot, those posts will almost certainly go to others. One note about Kadima in its ascendancy - despite the presence of Gideon Ezra, the current environment minister, and former minister Dalia Itzik, the party has no distinguished environmental legislator. But environmentalists were never excited about Ezra and some would argue that one of the great benefits of this election would be his replacement. Without a green party to spearhead efforts, MKs will have to band together across party lines to push forward legislation. While all the environmental legislation that has passed thus far was achieved that way, it will no doubt take awhile for the green front to re-coalesce.