Weekly Election Update: Stupid Controversies Abound

  • A new, fantastically ridiculous controversy has hit the coalition. 14,000 new apartments were approved for the Palestinian city of Qalqilya. Ministers in the coalition are accusing Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman of giving approval for these buildings without a vote. That would be quite the scandal if the plan wasn’t approved by vote last September in the Security Cabinet. The ministers are claiming that Lieberman never explicitly explained the plans that were voted on in order to pass the plan. Prime Minister Netanyahu is claiming that he has no recollection of voting on the plan and that he intends to halt building until it is brought up once again. On the other hand, his office said that the plan was approved in the security cabinet…What a country!
  • Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon had a good week after holding a special press conference to announce that 15,000 housing units will be up for lottery as part of a buyer fixed price plan. The goal of the plan is to allow young couples to purchase the houses. Kahlon also emphasized indications that the housing market may slow down in the coming months and years.
  • News also came out that Kahlon planned on meeting Rami Hamdalla, the Palestinian Prime Minister. It would be their second meeting in a month. In general, Kahlon has been meeting with senior officials in the Palestinian Authority in coordination with Bibi. A strong Kahlon is bad news for Yesh Atid and MK Yair Lapid.
  • In related news, Bibi may or may not have offered MK Tzipi Livni the Foreign Ministry if she agreed to join the coalition. Bibi has made a number of attempts to attract members of the Zionist Union into the coalition. It would seem that he’s attempting to do so in order to further talks with the Palestinians (which, if started, would most likely prompt HaBayit HaYehudi to leave the coalition). He also may be doing so in order to increase the bickering within Labor.
  • In good news for Yair Lapid, party member Elazar Stern successfully advanced a bill that would cut tax transfers to the PA equal to the amount of money that they pay to the families of terrorists/security prisoners/freedom fighters/bored and lonely 18 year olds. In response to the Israeli bill and a similar bill in the American congress, US secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the PA had agreed to stop making the payments. In the tradition of American politics today, that statement was immediately contradicted by the PA when the Minister for Palestinian Prisoners announced that they would continue to pay the stipends. There’s really no need to even write jokes anymore.
  • Israel and Saudi Arabia may be opening up casual business ties. Some have reported rumors of “Netflix and chilling” between the countries.

Totally precise and not arbitrary election date: February 20, 2018

Winner: Likud

Runner Up: Yesh Atid (I still think Yesh Atid will finish second, but if Labor voters are happy with the primary results and Kahlon continues to succeed in the eyes of the public, Yesh Atid could face a hard campaign where they are attacked by the center left and center right.)

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