Israel will have general elections on 1/28/2003

The Jerusalem Post (www.jpost.com) reports that Israel will have general elections on January 28th 2003:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his support for early elections on Tuesday, just short of two years since he took office, receiving approval from President Moshe Katsav to dissolve the Knesset and hold elections within 90 days.

The Knesset Law Committee is to meet Wednesday to finalize January 28 as the date for the election, because the law requires that elections be held on a Tuesday before the 90 days are up on February 3.

For more information on how, contrary to its Arab neighbors, Israel is a full democracy, please check the Democracy page.

Here are a few thoughts:

1) Why would Sharon allow Bibi Netanyahu to become Foreign Minister in his government? Wouldn't that give credibility to Bibi, who hasn't acted in any official capacity in the past couple of years? Yes, but that's precidely what Sharon wants. My guess is that he knows Bibi will win the Likud primaries and for the greater good of the party, he wants to give credibility to Bibi to help him (and the Likud) win the elections against Labor in 90 days.

2) The Labor party is trying to turn the elections into a discussion about the current government's support for the settlements instead of support for the developing cities in Israel ("Arei Hapituach"). In other words, make the people who are suffering today for economic reasons blame Sharon and the Likud for transferring money to the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza (0.03% of the budget). That's going to backfire: most of the people living in the developing cities will not vote for a leftist government - they are mostly Sephardim who have hawkish political views and would not want to give up the disputed territories. Instead, they'll vote for Shas, which although doesn't really represent them (they are ultra-Orthodox, while most Sephardim living in the developing cities are secular/traditionalists), will be able to pick up on the economic agenda and will have some political gains out of Labor's misplaced attacks.

You heard it here first folks. Ok, you may call my site "Foresight and Facts Of Israel" from now on. ;-)

I copy below the full article.





PM calls early elections within 90 days
By GIL HOFFMAN, Nov. 6, 2002
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?
pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1036471557954

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his support for early elections on Tuesday, just short of two years since he took office, receiving approval from President Moshe Katsav to dissolve the Knesset and hold elections within 90 days.

The Knesset Law Committee is to meet Wednesday to finalize January 28 as the date for the election, because the law requires that elections be held on a Tuesday before the 90 days are up on February 3.

The Knesset is also set Wednesday morning to approve former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu as foreign minister, after he accepted Sharon's offer.

In a meeting late Monday night, Sharon decided to move up the election from its original date of October 28, because he was unable to form a narrow government after the departure of the Labor Party and the collapse of his national-unity government last week.

In a press conference at the Prime Minister's Office, Sharon blamed the downfall of his government on National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who decided against bringing his seven MKs into the government and prevented Sharon from regaining a blocking majority of more than 60 MKs.

"I wanted this government to complete its full term," Sharon said. "However, the objection to the continuation of this government, which found expression in the unacceptable demands made by various political elements, together with the necessity to prepare for the difficult challenges ahead, brought me to the decision to favor the most responsible, and least objectionable, option to dissolve the 15th Knesset."

Sharon said he could not accept Lieberman's conditions for joining the government, which included not forming a national-unity government after the election, declaring the Oslo process null and void, and rejecting US President George W. Bush's Middle East "road map."

"From my first day as prime minister, I established a rule for myself," Sharon said. "I will not surrender to political blackmail from any party. This is how I have acted in the past and it is how I will continue to act in the future."

He emphasized that his decision to go to elections was based on his determination not to undermine Israel's strategic understandings with the US and risk endangering the special relationship his government formed with the White House. He vowed to pass the budget as soon as possible and to form another national-unity government if he wins the election.

The government started unraveling last week when Labor Party chairman Binyamin Ben-Eliezer decided to take his party out of the government. Sharon slammed Ben-Eliezer for toppling the national-unity government "over a political whim."

"This irresponsible behavior lead to the unnecessary collapse of a government which reflected and continues to reflect the people's will for unity," he said. "I have said this before and I say it again today an election at this time is not what the country needs."

Ben-Eliezer revealed that he consulted with Lieberman on Monday before he started meeting opposition factions in an effort to move up the elections. MKs on the Right accused Lieberman of toppling the government, following the precedent of other Likud governments that were toppled by the extreme right.

Sharon did not spare Netanyahu from criticism, drawing a parallel between his conditions and the immediate response of Shaul Mofaz in accepting the Defense portfolio. Sharon's associates said they suspected Sharon's comment spurred Netanyahu to take the position.

Netanyahu called a press conference to announce his acceptance of the Foreign Affairs portfolio and to begin his leadership race against Sharon. He said he did not see any problem with running against a prime minister from his party, while serving in his government.

Sharon did the right thing in moving up the election, Netanyahu said, saying that it is the best thing for the state and not, as Sharon said, the lesser of two evils.

"I conceded the premiership two years ago because it was clear that with only 19 MKs, the Likud couldn't have the kind of policy that can save the state," he said. "With new elections, the Likud will double its strength and be able to gain a mandate to fix the economy."

He declined to unveil his diplomatic agenda, but said he has much to contribute to helping the country on the diplomatic scene ahead of an expected American attack on Iraq. He refrained from criticizing Sharon directly and expressed confidence he could cooperate with him as he did when Sharon served as his foreign minister.
"We've had the ability to work together in the past, and we will work together in the present," he said.

If Netanyahu wins the race, Sharon told The Times of London on Monday, he is looking forward to retirement to his Negev farm.

"I am 74 years old. I don't have any further political ambitions," he said, adding that when his time in office ends, "I [will] go back to the farm to take care of the cattle, to ride the horses, to milk the sheep, to work on a tractor in the fields."

News agencies contributed to this report.

Posted by David Melle
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