February 2019International NewsMiddle East

Upcoming Israeli Election

Mark Gorman

Staff Writer


With the Israeli elections on the horizon, Benny Gantz, former head of the Israeli Defense Force and current head of the center-left Resilience party, announced a joint election ticket with Yair Lipid and his center-right Yesh Atid party.

According to BBC, the alliance is a unity platform that will have a rotational leader, starting off by seating Gantz first as Prime Minister but switching to Lipid in two years. The joint ticket was formed in an attempt to make the elections more competitive and possibly unseat Benjamin Netanyahu, who has held the office of Prime Minister for a decade. This ticket also has the support of former military chiefs Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Yaalon.

Even if the joint ticket gets the competitors to surpass Likud, the party with the most seats in the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, it is not guaranteed that they will be the governing party. According to Al Jazeera, no one party has held a majority of seats in the Knesset, meaning that whichever government forms after election will be decided by the party that can build the largest coalition.

To combat this, Benjamin Netanyahu has organized the support and unification of three far-right parties, according to the Los Angeles Times. These parties are the Jewish Power, the Jewish Home, and the National Union party. This is an unprecedented move, which Axios compared to an American President making a deal with David Duke, the former head of the KKK.

This is because many prominent members in the alliance of parties are tied to the Kahanist movement. This organization had the goals of turning Israel into a theocracy and forcing the expulsion of all Palestinians from Israel.

The Kahane movement originated with Rabbi Meir Kahane, the former leader of the banned Kach party, and the founder of the Jewish Power party. Kahane proposed a slew of racist laws that would have restricted citizenship for non-Jews and mandated separate social infrastructure facilities for Jews and Arabs.

At the time, senior members of the Likud party, which Netanyahu now leads, compared these laws to the Nuremberg Laws passed by the Nazis before the Holocaust. As reported in The Guardian, other prominent members of the Kahanist movement include Bezalel Smotrich, a self-avowed “proud homophobe,” Itamar Ben Gvir, an attorney whose career has consisted mostly of defending Israeli settlers in the West Bank accused of violence, and Benzi Gopstein, the leader of an extremist anti-assimilation group whose Twitter handle translates as “Kahane was right.”

The current platform for the Jewish Power party calls “to remove enemies of Israel from our country,” and to establish a national authority to encourage emigration. In addition, it demands the annexation of the West Bank and labels all who support returning to the 1967 borders as “enemies of Israel,” as reports CNN.

Both Gantz and Netanyahu have been attacking each other in the media. Netanyahu has repeatedly called Gantz a “weak leftist,” while Gantz has criticized Netanyahu’s relatively long time in the position of Prime Minister, saying he’s become “addicted to the pleasures of power, corruption and hedonism.”

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