Politicians on the move as election deadline approaches
Hebrew media review

Politicians on the move as election deadline approaches

Ballot fever is rising as parties rush to finalize their lists on Thursday

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

With Thursday’s Knesset list submission deadline approaching, much of the Israeli news focuses on the final jockeying of politicians before parties are set in stone for the January elections. All parties must announce their complete lists, unity deals, and factions by 10 p.m. Thursday.

Yedioth Ahronoth leads with the right, reporting on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman publishing the finalized version of the joint Likud-Beytenu list. To the surprise of everyone, foremost Likud party members, Yisrael Beytenu candidates “without exception jumped up the list, from one slot to five” from their projected placings. According to the paper, Likud members “were enraged last night by the order” of the list, which was published late Wednesday night, and charged that “Netanyahu sold us, he simply surrendered to Liberman who attended to his own people at the expense of Likud members.”

While the new list still follows the zipper pattern of two Likud members followed by a Yisrael Beytenu, and so on, the list was shifted so that Yair Shamir would be No. 4 on the list, granting Yisrael Beytenu four rather than three members in the top 10 of the party list.

Ari Shavit writes of the Netanyahu-Liberman alliance in Haaretz that “the Israel of Likud-Beytenu is an Israel that is going to crash into the wall.”

“In another month and a half, Israelis will go to the polls. To our great regret, they won’t find in the voting booths a worthy and high-quality alternative in the center-left bloc. But whoever votes for the extremist slates of the new right-wing bloc must know exactly what he is voting for — a weak Israel. An Israel that insists on national pride but that is harming national security and eroding national fortitude in a dangerous way.”

Haaretz’s coverage leads with the center-left, and how final efforts were being made to form a bloc to contend with Likud-Beytenu. According to the paper, however, Tzipi Livni and the Labor Party both expressed doubt of any kind of unity agreement between them. The Labor Party is nonetheless holding a party meeting on Thursday to discuss a possible 11th hour deal with Livni’s Hatnua party. While Livni still expressed interest in a unity deal with Labor and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, Lapid submitted his party list on Wednesday.

Maariv and Israel Hayom focus on the crumbling Kadima party, four of whose members split away from the former ruling party created by Ariel Sharon seven years ago. MKs Dalia Itzik, Roni Bar-On, Yaakov Edri, and Maria Solodkin resigned from Kadima and political life — for the time being. Itzik, writes Israel Hayom, broke away in part because she was dissatisfied with the rank Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz was going to assign her in the party list. Bar-On, a former minister, left despite the fact that Mofaz promised him a good spot.

Maariv writes that Kadima now “is struggling to pass the threshold percentage in the polls, and is forced to deal with an unprecedented wave of abandonment.”

Dan Margalit says good riddance to Kadima in his Israel Hayom column, adding that its clinical death was projected long ago. Of Sharon’s party, he says that it “was born in sin and dies in shame” and expresses no regret for it. By breaking away from Kadima now, the four above-mentioned members who left on Wednesday “minimized the shame accompanying them,” he says.

Mazal Mualem’s prognosis in Maariv isn’t much cheerier for Mofaz’s party. She says that even if Kadima manages to break the threshold to enter the Knesset, “it will do so as a small niche party, after it long since failed to establish itself as an alternative ruler.” Though it survived two major crises — Sharon’s stroke and the Second Lebanon War — Kadima fell into irrelevancy since the last election’s success at the polls was not translated into ability to rule.

Like all centrist parties in Israeli history, he says, Kadima promised change in governance, new politics, “and a pragmatic and balanced political line.” Voters seeking those promises now turn to Livni, Lapid, and Labor, Mualem writes.

While the main news coverage focuses on internal Israeli politics, the political cartoons deal with Israeli foreign policy. Yedioth Ahronoth shows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who arrived in Germany on Wednesday for a state visit, being ordered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to sit on a small stool. The cartoon parodies the January 2010 incident when Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (shown in the background) had the Turkish ambassador to Israel sit on a lower couch while Ayalon upbraided him.

Political cartoon in Yedioth Ahronoth on December 6.
Political cartoon in Yedioth Ahronoth on December 6.

Haaretz’s political cartoon refers to the recently approved E1 settlement construction plan, depicting Netanyahu and Liberman cordoning off a small patch of ground marked as Israel with barbed wire. “The world is disconnected!” Netanyahu exclaims.

Political cartoon in Haaretz on December 6.
Political cartoon in Haaretz on December 6.

Israel Hayom shows a mockup of the world map as Space Invaders, with Israel’s sole friends — those few states who voted against the Palestinian motion for status upgrade at the United Nations General Assembly — marked as smiley faces. Inexplicably, the two major states that voted against the measure, the United States and Canada, are marked as aliens, not smiley faces.

Political cartoon in Israel Hayom on December 6.
Political cartoon in Israel Hayom on December 6.
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