- The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill that will allow the state to “reimburse” Palestinians for privately owned land if Jews build settlements on that land in “good faith”. The bill was passed after Naftali Bennett told Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked to bring the bill before the Committee following a shouting match with Defense Minister and Yisrael Beitenu head Avigdor Liberman. Bibi and Liberman opposed the law’s immediate passage because they wanted to give the Supreme Court room to delay the evacuation of Amona. In addition, Liberman said that it was inappropriate to pass the item which would put pressure on America and could lead them to supporting an anti-Israel Security Council resolution. The legal advisor to the government said that he would have difficulty defending the bill in front of the court. The incident is a clear example of Bennett’s party attempting to win votes back from the Likud and could portend a coalition collapse.
- Unscientific polling showed that Yisrael Beitenu is winning back votes from Israelis with roots in the former Soviet Union. Yesh Atid passed Likud as the second most popular party amongst the demographic. The only other polling I saw this past week had to do with the American election and seriously, I’m over that.
- OK fine, there was nothing else last week. A number of Israeli politicians responded to the Trump victory. Bibi took the speech that he wrote for the Clinton victory and replaced her name with Trump’s. Bayit Yehudi leader and admirer of Trump’s “natural hair” Naftali Bennet ignored Trump’s own statements and celebrated the end of the age of the Palestinian state. Meanwhile, leaders of the Zionist Camp (Labor) Party split in their responses. Boogie Herzog gushed over Trump’s ability to beat polls and to win when no one likes you. His advisers will be consulting with Trump’s team soon. Meanwhile, Tzipi Livni threw some shade Trump’s way. Most spectacularly, Oren Hazan seemed excited that his fellow admirer of women and the disabled won the election.
- The Committee on Aliyah and Absorption brought up the fact that the Ministry of Education did not publish a report showing that Israeli-Ethiopian students experienced three times as much discrimination and two times as much violence from teachers. This will have no effect on elections, but is awful and should be publicized.
- Head of the Knesset Lobby for the Economic Development of the Periphery and candidate for the head of the Labor Party Erel Margalit has been trying to win over the north, home to almost 2.5 million people and potentially worth about 28 mandates. He has accused Bibi of betraying the region and proposed multiple laws along with Labor and Yesh Atid Members to grant immediate benefits to the region. In the Knesset, the Labor party has been pressuring the government to pass an 800 million Shekel grant to strengthen the North. Do I smell a competent opposition campaign to win votes through meeting the public’s needs? It’s a whole new day.
- A coming split within HaBayit HaYehudi? Rabbis complained that the Naftali Bennett led Ministry of Education was providing information about the army to religious girls who may want to join the army. Heaven forfend!
The opposition’s targeting of the north is an interesting development as is HaBayit HaYehudi’s friskiness. Likud is still safe, but for how long?
Totally precise and not arbitrary election date: February 8, 2018, although I’m beginning to think sooner unless Bibi has a backup plan for Bennett pulling out of the coalition.
Runner Up: Yesh Atid