After Ehud Barak announced he was quitting politics, and former Kadima head Tzippi Livni quit to set up her own new party, Hatnua (the Movement), there has been a round of swaps, firings and resignations amongst the various political parties:
First, we learn that Kadima’s faction head Dalia Itzik has also announced that she is leaving politics.
Still with Kadima, 7 (!!) members have left to join Hatnua, Tzippi Livni’s new party. (I said it was Kadima redux. Why didn’t they just rename the party and leave it at that?)
“It is not easy for us to leave Kadima, but Kadima’s voters wanted Livni, and they want her now as well,” said MK Yoel Hasson, one of the seven lawmakers who are joining Ha’Tnua.
The other MKs who signed the request to leave Kadima are Orit Zuaretz, Robert Tiviaev, Rachel Adatto, Majallie Whbee, Shlomo Molla and Meir Meir Sheetrit.
Livni headed Kadima until MK Shaul Mofaz defeated her in the party primaries.
Several other MKs have split from their factions to form independent factions. From the same Ynet link:
The House Committee also approved Knesset Member Talab El-Sana’s request to split from the United Arab List-Ta’al party. El-Sana said he would run for the 19th Knesset as an independent candidate.
Knesset Member Chaim Amsellem’s request to split from the Shas party was also approved Monday. Amsellem recently founded the Am Shalem party.
Meanwhile, over in Yisrael Beitenu, shock and confusion reign as it is announced that a few MKs are leaving while Avigdor Liberman has also left several important MKs have been off the new party list, including their rising star, deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman cleaned house in his Yisrael Beytenu party on Tuesday night, expunging it of three MKs who were embroiled in scandals that embarrassed him: Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, MK Anastasia Michaeli and most surprisingly, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
Meseznikov and Michaeli retired from politics before the candidate list was announced, claiming they left at their own volition to pursue other opportunities.
But Ayalon was taken by surprise that he was not a candidate for the 19th Knesset, finding out shortly before the list was announced.
Liberman gave no explanation as to why he left Ayalon off the list and he did not mention him in a lengthy speech at a Yisrael Beytenu event in Jerusalem. He declined to comment about Ayalon when asked by The Jerusalem Post about his deputy at the Foreign Ministry as he left the hotel courtyard where the list was announced.
But Ayalon’s departure is thought to be tied to a January 2010 incident in which he was caught on camera instructing cameraman filming a meeting with the Turkish ambassador to notice that he had placed him on a low chair and refused to shake the envoy’s hand in an effort to scold him.
Ayalon wrote on Facebook that he would continue to serve in his post until his term ends, and then in a different capacity.
I really hope Ayalon is sincere in wishing to continue serving Israel in a different capacity. He is too valuable a political and diplomatic asset to lose, notwithstanding the “scandal” with the Turkish ambassador (which I thought was a clever piece of theatre in retaliation for Erdogan’s public humiliation of President Shimon Peres at Davos).
MKs Moshe Matalon and Lia Shemtov were also given unrealistic slots on the list, which will be combined with the Likud’s list on a joint Knesset slate. No native English speaker was put in a realistic slot. Toronto-born Danny Hershtal was placed 28th on the list.
Former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir’s son Yair, who headed Israel Aerospace Industries, will follow Liberman on the list. The rest of the top five are ministers Uzi Landau, Sofa Landver and Yitzhak Aharonovitch.
MK David Rotem, who became the nemesis of Reform and Conservative Jews due to his legislation that would have harmed them, is eighth on the list.
For an interesting insight into the sacking of Ayalon and the other Yisrael Beitenu dismissals, read this speculative analysis in the Times of Israel. Here’s a small excerpt but read it all:
In Haaretz on Wednesday, political analyst Yossi Verter gave three possible reasons for Ayalon’s surprise ouster. It could be Liberman’s belated response to the Turkish ambassador business — “It seems Liberman neither forgets nor forgives,” Verter mused. Alternatively, Verter speculates, Liberman hopes to become defense minister in the next government and therefore no longer needs a diplomat like Ayalon hanging around. Or, finally, it was a “preemptive step by Liberman concerning an issue involving Ayalon that has yet to be revealed.”
We’ve already ruled out the first of these as particularly unlikely. And militating against the second possibility is both the fact that Liberman has credibly expressed a preference to stay on as foreign minister, and the brusqueness with which Ayalon was told that he needs to find himself a new job. So of Verter’s trio, we’re left with the final possibility — the “issue… that has yet to be revealed.” Very intriguing.
Fact is, Ayalon didn’t even merit a gracious political obituary from his boss of the kind awarded the highly problematic Misezhnikov. Liberman expressed “great regret” at Misezhnikov’s ostensible decision to quit politics, saying that he “was supposed to be placed at a very high spot on the Knesset list and play a senior role in the future government.”
For now, Liberman is staying resolutely silent, and Ayalon resolutely diplomatic. Before heading to the airport on Wednesday to accompany Netanyahu on a difficult trip to Berlin — Liberman was originally scheduled to go too, but canceled at the last minute to “take care of party business” — Ayalon wished Yisrael Beytenu the best of luck in the elections, and had not a single bitter word for Liberman. “I certainly respect him,” Ayalon said. “The world of politics has its own rules.”
What a gentleman. I wish more of our politicians were as diplomatic and civil as he.
But as if we don’t have enough crazies in the Knesset, another new party registered to try and enter Israeli politics: the Pirate Party.
Israel’s Pirate Party delegates arrived at the Central Elections Committee office on Wednesday, to present it with their Knesset roster.
The party’s top five delegates caused a stir when they arrived at the CEC office in full pirate gear – hats and hooks included.
Committee Chairman Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, however, was not amused, and asked them to remove their costumes.
Party Chairman Ohad Shem-Tov, criticized Rubinstein for being “a conformist.”
Along with the Pirates, a children’s clown wants to enter Knesset too. I have to say I’m very much looking forward to the Knesset’s opening session!
Popular children’s entertainer Yuval Shem Tov, known professionally as “Yuval Hamevulbal” (Yuval the Confused), will attempt to enter the Knesset as No. 3 on the list of the new Calcala party, a nascent, economic policy-oriented political party launched this year by two American-Israeli brothers, the party announced Wednesday.
Shem Tov, as the funny, singing television personality clad in his trademark yellow T-shirt with a big blue star on the front, is one of the best-known entertainers in Israel and is particularly beloved by small children. He said the party approached him about entering politics, but at first he responded that he was “happy blowing balloons.”
However, after seeing the party’s platform, which focuses on pro-business and family issues, he decided to “help them enter the Knesset.”
Altogether, 15 parties have registered for the upcoming elections:
The first party to register on Wednesday was Daam, an Arab-Jewish socialist party that has been running for the Knesset since 1999 but has yet to pass the election threshold.
The current threshold is 2 percent of the votes cast (it was 1.5% from 1992 to 2003, and 1% before 1992.) Second and third to arrive were, respectively, Strong Israel, founded by former National Union MKs Arieh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari, and Habayit Hayehudi, which is running together with National Union but has only one of its 18th Knesset MKs – Uri Ariel – on its new list.
Other lists to register on Wednesday include “We Are All Friends – Na Nach,” the Breslov Hassid party, which requested the letters het and nun.
The Green Leaf Liberal List submitted a list of 14 candidates.
It requested the first two letters of the word cannabis – kuf and nun – and is not running along with Holocaust survivors, as it did in the previous election in 2009.
Labor plans to submit its list on Thursday evening, with its oldest candidate in a realistic spot, MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, 76, and its youngest, social protest leader Stav Shaffir, 27, handing in the papers at the Knesset.
Former president Yitzhak Navon, 91, will be in the honorary 120th slot.
One of the only bright spots in the political news is that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, facing multiple corruptions trials, will not be running in the elections.
And now to the other kind of madness, that which reigns supreme in other parts of the Middle East.
Another member of the Evil Zionist Menagerie™ has been uncovered:
Sudanese media reported Thursday that officials had captured a bird carrying spying equipment for Israel.
The Israeli outlet Walla news said that local Sudanese media reported that the bird was identified as Israeli because it was carrying Hebrew labels that read “Israel Nature Authority” and “Hebrew University Jerusalem.”
While details of the story remain sketchy, the reports suggested there was a solar-powered device attached to the bird’s leg. Sudanese media claimed the device was capable of taking photos and sending them back to Israel.
Israel is often the focus of wild wildlife conspiracy theories based on tracking devices attached to birds by Israeli ornithologists. In May Turkish authorities claimed to have caught a European bee-eater that, they said, may have had Mossad spying equipment implanted in one of its nostrils. The bird had an ostensibly incriminating band on its leg marked “Israel.”
In 2011, Saudi Arabian media reported the capture of a griffon vulture that had Israeli “spying equipment,” marked “Tel Aviv University,” attached to one of its legs.
And to cap off the crazy, what better than a new perfume. A new Gaza perfume to be precise, named … you guessed it … after a missile!
A new perfume created in Gaza will bear the name of a missile designed by Hamas and fired in the direction of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during Operation Pillar of Defense in November, a local newspaper reported on Thursday.
Shadi Adwan, the owner of a local cosmetics company, decided to name a new scent M-75, to “honor the victory of the Palestinian people and the resistance during the eight-day war,” he told Islamist daily Al-Resalah.
According to the report, the perfume comes in masculine and feminine scents and costs double the price of other perfumes due to special ingredients it contains, “worthy of the victory in the Gaza Strip.”
My overworked brain has already come up with a sequel: Kessem HaKassam (the magic of the Kassam), and for a grand finale I would suggest Girud haGrad (the itch of the Grad). Suggestions on a postcard please, or in the comments. Could you do any better?
Never let anyone tell you life here is boring.