Monday, March 18, 2013

Factoids About the New Israeli Government

Here are some random facts about the 33 Israeli government, sworn in today.
  • The coalition guidelines call for raising the threshold for electing Knesset members from 2% of the popular vote to 4%. In this Knesset that would eliminate all three "Arab" parties. In the last Knesset that would have eliminated all  those parties plus Meretz - the most left wing, pro peace of the Zionist parties. Why 4% and not 3 or 5? At  3% only one of the Arab parties would have been eliminated (Balad). At 5% Tzipi Livni's party - a coalition partner - would have been eliminated, and United Torah Judaism would have been on the edge.
  • The coalition guidelines call for the passing of a law that will make "the states democratic character subservient to its Jewish character."
  • Moshe Yaalon an ardent settlement supporter, and who was let go as chief of staff for openly opposing the withdrawal from Gaza, will be Minister of Defense, with control of the occupied territories. Yaalon is much more hawkish than outgoing Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak
  • Ubber hawk, Danny Danon - the man who brought Glen Beck to Israel, will be Deputy Defence Minister
  • Naftali Bennet, leader of the pro settlement party HaBayit HaYehudi, will be Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor, where he can dole out subsidies and incentives to settlement enterprises. He will also hold Jerusalem Affairs portfolio responsible for the Jerusalem  Development Corp. Watch for much more aggressive Jewish only development in East Jerusalem.
  • HaBayit Hayehudi will also hold the Ministry of Housing and Construction, the primary instrument for settlement and infrastructure building in the West Bank.
  • Zeev Elkin, a Likud hawk and settler living in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem, swill be Deputy Foreign Minister. He will run the ministry while Netantahu himself formally holds the portfolio. Elkin is considered a far-right wing politician whose voting record opposed freedom of expression and human rights more than any other MK in the last Knesset
  • Gilad Erdan, the new Minister of Communications distinguished himself in the past for promoting closer ties between Israel and American Evalgelicals, and for proposing a law that would allow revoking the citizenship of those disloyal to the state.
  • Yair Lapid, a journalist, with no experience or training in business, finance, or economics, will be come Minister of Finance. He claims he will hire good advisers. HaBayit HaYehudi will hold the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee, perhaps the second most important economic position in the coalition.
  • Of the 22 ministers in the new government 4 are women and 3 are mizrachim/sefardim ("oriental" Jews.) There are no Arab ministers. Women make up approximately 51% of Israel's population, mizrachim/sefardim 44% (55% of the Jewish population), and Arabs  20%.

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