Approaching Israeli Elections Force Parties to Realign
Israel’s Labor party was holding its primary elections on Monday, less than two months before the nation heads to its fourth election in two years. The veteran left-wing party, which till recently was left for dead in the polls after jumping in bed with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, has undergone a revival of sorts, after its members picked a new chairwoman last week and on Monday was electing a new party list to run in the March elections. Israelis vote for parties, not people. The prime minister is invariably head of one of the parties and, nearly always, head of the party that has won the largest number of seats in parliament. Regardless, he or she must be able to weave together a coalition of at least 61 seats in order to become prime minister. On Sunday, Avi Nissenkorn, till last month Israel’s justice minister and a prominent member of the government coalition partner Blue and White party, announced a hiatus from politics. Nissenkorn recently jumped ship from the foundering Blue and White to join Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai’s new left-wing platform, only to realize it was in even worse shape. Another Blue and White defector, former defense minister Moshe Yaalon, on Monday announced his flailing party also would not run due to abysmal poll numbers. The splintered Israeli left wing, shattered into a handful of tiny parties, will have until Thursday to coalesce into two or three large bodies that have a viable chance of receiving the minimum four seats needed to enter parliament. They will then hope to unseat Netanyahu by gaining a 61-seat majority, a feat both sides failed to do in the prior three consecutive rounds of elections.