Hebrew media review

Warning: Elections ahead

The final pre-vote polls are in, but the candidates are still out and about getting last-minute deciders to support them

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.

A large campaign poster showing Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich in Bnei Brak. (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
A large campaign poster showing Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich in Bnei Brak. (photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Haaretz publishes its latest elections poll just four days before the country goes to the ballot box. It projects that Likud-Beytenu will win 32 seats, Labor 17, Jewish Home 14, Shas 12, Yesh Atid 12, Hatnua eight, Meretz six, United Torah Judaism five, Hadash five, Balad four, Ra’am Ta’al three, and Kadima two. The paper writes that “this is the lowest number of seats the right has been forecast to receive in Haaretz polls since the campaign began,” with 63 for the right and 57 for the center-left and Arab parties..

When asked what issue influenced their vote most in the upcoming elections, 47 percent of likely voters said that it’s the country’s economic situation, whereas drafting the ultra-Orthodox, negotiations with the Palestinians, and Iran’s nuclear program didn’t break 20%, respectively.

The paper’s editorial exhorts readers to go out and vote, saying “there is no more important commandment” than casting a ballot in this election. More importantly, it instructs its readers to vote for any of the many center-left parties and against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, it claims, stands for “isolationism, nationalism and threats to democracy and civil rights.”

“The dangerous direction in which the right has turned requires all supporters of democracy and openness to the world to go to the polls and vote for parties that will stand in opposition to Netanyahu and his ‘natural partners,’ ” it writes.

Yedioth Ahronoth‘s last-minute poll shows similar results to that of Haaretz. Likud-Beytenu is projected to win 32 seats, Labor 17, Yesh Atid 13, Jewish Home 12, Shas 11, Hatnua eight, Meretz six, United Torah Judaism six, Hadash four, Ra’am Ta’al four, Balad three, and Kadima and Otzma Leyisrael two apiece. It, too, notes the “shrinking of the gap” with its projection that the right-wing bloc will have 63 seats versus 57 on the opposite side of the aisle. According to Dr. Mina Tzemach, 15.3% of the respondents remain undecided with less than a week to go.

This weekend, the paper reports, will not be a restful one for party leaders, as they’ll be hitting up synagogues, bars and last-minute meetings to garner votes. Netanyahu on Thursday called prospective voters to convince them in his favor. Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni is driving north to the Druze village of Beit Jan to stump for her party among the country’s Arab minority. Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid will split his “final weekend as a civilian” between panel discussions, conferences, and interviews. Only Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, an observant man, will take it easy and remain at home with his wife and family on the Sabbath.

Maariv‘s top story is a call by Bennett, Lapid, and Livni to form a national emergency government after the elections, in order to resolve the country’s NIS 50 billion deficit.

“I call for the formation of a social emergency government, with all of the other [political] actors. We need to sit together and solve the basic problems that are strangling the Israeli economy,” Bennett said.

Lapid chimed in that he has no problem joining the opposition, and warned that he would not be “a fig leaf for a right-wing and ultra-Orthodox government, and definitely not a government that won’t solve the issue of a universal draft.”

Columnist Kalman Liebskind writes that, to the dismay of Livni and to the surprise of Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich, social issues returned to the fore in last night’s Eilat conference, where Lapid’s above statements were made. Though the political reality has focused on settlements and political issues, Liebskind reports that at the last minute before the elections, socioeconomic issues took the stage.

“Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz told how to make Israel’s outlying population centers accessible to the center of the country. Naftali Bennett… devoted many minutes to the most serious problem in recent days, the 14 ships that are stuck at the Ashdod port. Yair Lapid dealt, of course, with the situation of the middle class, and Ariel Atias with that of the lower class, with tax on fruit, and water prices,” he writes.

Israel Hayom puts the botched hostage rescue attempt at an Algerian gas field as top billing, reporting that of the 41 civilians taken captive by an Algerian terrorist group earlier this week, at least 8 Algerians, a Frenchman, two Britons, and two Japanese were killed. It quotes the Algerian propaganda minister saying that the terrorists attempted to make a getaway with the remaining hostages and that the army fired on the convoy.

Israel Hayom columnist Boaz Bismuth says the current conflict in Algeria and neighboring Mali was born in the earlier 1990s, when Algeria sank into a violent civil war, in which over 100,000 died and the army pushed Islamist terrorist groups southward toward the Malian border.

“How ironic is it that a terrorist organization of no more than 200 activists… succeeded in doing what France couldn’t — turning the Mali campaign into an international affair,” he writes.

Though Paris enjoys international support regarding the current crisis, France will only succeed against the al-Qaeda groups who’ve overrun half of Mali if it receives local backing, he says.

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