A Guide to the Israeli Election

Thanks to Israel’s system of proportional representation, there are eleven parties that have a good chance of winning seats in the Knesset in today’s election. Their opaque and sometimes untranslatable names don’t help outsiders make sense of what they represent. Carrie Keller-Lynn, Haviv Rettig Gur, Tal Schneider, and Jacob Magid provide a useful guide to each of them. Of particular note is Yesh Atid (“There Is a Future”)—founded less that ten years ago—whose leader, Yair Lapid, has been prime minister since July:

Yesh Atid, which describes itself as a “centrist” party, has published and updated one of the most comprehensive platforms of any party running in recent years, offering proposals on issues including corruption, religion and state, violence against women, and Israel’s dwindling population of Holocaust survivors.

Among the platform’s many, many proposals: legislating a ban against politicians convicted of moral turpitude from holding the post of lawmaker, minister, mayor, president, or state comptroller; promoting humanitarian initiatives in the Gaza Strip in exchange for reduced Hamas influence; reducing the gender wage gap; incentivizing large workplaces to create childcare options and increasing work-from-home hours; adopting the Istanbul Convention against violence against women; and integrating more of the population into the workforce, with an emphasis on ḥaredi men and Arab women.

There are also a host of minor parties, some of which focus on such single issues as housing prices and marijuana legalization, which always have a slight chance of winning a seat—potentially obtaining the ability to make or break a coalition. Among the best known is the Pirate party:

Leaders of the Israeli branch of the Pirate party define their goals as promoting freedom of expression, science, the individual, and the right to take copyrighted material, as well as “development and promotion of the pirate sector” and a direct democracy. The party is known for silly pranks, like dressing up to file its registration, but has also championed the use of the Internet in democratizing society. The party has run in every Israeli election for the last sixteen years, but has yet to come close to raising the Jolly Roger in the Knesset plenum.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli Election 2022, Israeli politics, Yair Lapid

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood