The SITUATION: Bottomline on Elections

The SITUATION: Bottomline on Elections

We at Meretz USA were crestfallen on Wednesday when Tuesday’s projections of five seats for Meretz shrank overnight to four. This would have represented a one-third cut in the Meretz Knesset caucus from the outgoing six; it would also have meant a corresponding one-third cut in government funding for the Meretz party’s operations. To confound this devastating loss is that it meant the personal loss of sitting MK Avshalom (Abu) Vilan, the fifth Meretz candidate — and a close friend who was a Mapam/Meretz shaliakh (representative) here in the early 1990s. He is also a frequent visitor and speaker for Meretz USA in New York.

But yesterday, Thursday, we had some good news. The count of the last one percent of the vote — non-resident votes from the military, diplomatic service, prisons and hospitals — affected the results: Kadima rose one to 29 and Meretz rose one to five. This gives the more dovish Zionist parties a majority of 61 (not counting three for the bi-nationalist Hadash and seven for the all-Arab parties). Olmert will want to pad this majority — probably with one or both of the ultra-Orthodox parties, neither of which are inherently hawkish. Shas, down from 13 to 12 with the final tally, has criticized Olmert for being unilateralist in his approach; they would support negotiations. The United Torah Judaism party doesn’t care that much either way.

Prime Minister Olmert has outlined what he wants — with or without negotiations — an evacuation of 70-80,000 settlers from in front of the security barrier to behind it, some give back in East Jerusalem, but also the development of E-1 to entirely cut off East Jerusalem from the West Bank and practically cut the West Bank into two.

If Abbas were more forceful in clamping down on the terrorist factions (in theory, he commands upwards of 50-60,000 security personnel), he might be able to negotiate better terms, but since he’s a weak leader — undermined both by a splintered and undisciplined Fatah movement (with terrorist elements) and facing an unknown quantity in the new Hamas government — it’s hard to see Abbas as being able to offer Olmert anything that would make him depart from his vision. It’s equally hard to see Olmert offering Abbas anything that might encourage Abbas to come to an agreement or at least cooperate more in security matters.

Stay tuned to this space for more on the elections, particularly some quirky and amusing facts.

By | 2006-03-31T15:29:00-05:00 March 31st, 2006|Blog|4 Comments


  1. Ron Skolnik March 31, 2006 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Just wanted to point out that the two “all-Arab” parties (United Arab List and Balad)picked up three seats each, for six. (Meretz’s gain of a fifth seat came at the expense of United Arab List’s almost fourth seat.)

    Also: Calling Hadash ‘binationalist’ might be misconstrued. I assume you meant binational in the sense that it is formally based on both Arab and Jewish representation. This is true. But its platform is not ‘binationalist’, in that it supports a two-state solution, not a binational state.

  2. Ralph Seliger March 31, 2006 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the extra electoral info. By Hadash being “bi-nationalist,” I meant that it’s by self-definition an Arab and Jewish party, not its perspective on two states versus one. For example, judging from the names, two of its three newly elected MKs are Jews.

  3. David Eden April 3, 2006 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    When dealing with names in Arabic and Hebrew, you can’t always assume national, ethnic, or religious identity. Some Arabic and Hebrew names are very similar, especially when transliterated into English. For example, the Hebrew Hanan is a male name (i.e. former Meretz general secretary Hanan Erez) but in Arabic it’s a female name (i.e. Palestinian activist hanan Ashrawi). FYI, only one of Hadash’s 3 MKs is Jewish, the #2 person who you probably thought was a Jewish woman, Hanna Sweid, is a male Israeli-Palestinian.
    David Eden

  4. Ralph Seliger April 4, 2006 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your clarification David.

Leave A Comment