Election Roundup Sunday 28 December

Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party finally has a couple of candidates. Joining him are Michel Oren, the former Ambassador to the USA, and Eli Alalouf, an Israel Prize winner who chairs a committee on investigating poverty in Israel. They’re both serious names and solid professionals, but it’s hard to pin down the precise character of the party yet. Maybe as more people join it’ll become clearer.

Meanwhile, another Israeli Ambassador to the USA, incumbent Ron Dermer, got into trouble for endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu on an American TV show. Mr Dermer, a close friend of Mr Netanyahu, told a cable channel that

“I have no doubt that when [Israelis] look at all the people that stand for the leadership of the country, that they will have confidence in the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

Ambassadors are supposed to be politically neutral in their roles, and Mr Dermer might get into trouble with the Civil Service Commission.

More  Yisrael Beiteinu-linked figures have been detained and questioned for involvement in an alleged huge corruption scandal. The latest person questioned seems to be former Jerusalem Mayoral candidate Moshe Leon, though I can’t confirm that because journalists have been hinting at it rather than outright reporting it.

A Labour Court hearing into claims by a former worker at the Prime Minister’s House, though, was postponed until after the election after Benjamin Netanyahu argued that the case could influence the polls. The ex-worker was allegedly going to reveal a lot of the private goings-on inside the Netanyahu household. Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman attacked the delay, noting that a full investigation into his party was allowed during election time but an ongoing case about Netanyahu was delayed for political reasons.

Danny Danon continued the trend of releasing ‘funny’ videos, by putting out a cartoon song set to the tune of “Oh Susanna” depicting him as an Old-West sheriff kicking out Haneen Zoabi, attacking Tzipi Livni etc. The video, called “Oh Zoabi” has been criticised by some for sexism and Zoabi herself reported it to the police as incitement. While clearly NOT incitement, I thought it was a bit crass and a little sexist. I also thought its general silliness shows Danon is not really running for Likud leader anymore, and is just trying to secure a good place in the party Primary.

Another media figure is joining the Bayit Yehudi list. Yinon Magal, editor of Walla news, has been given one of the automatic spots that are in the gift of leader Naftali Bennett. Yinon has come under immediate criticism, though, due to the increase in sexual content on Walla under his editorship, with some Bayit Yehudi members questioning his suitability as a candidate for the religious party.

Meanwhile, the polls are messy: some show Yisrael Beitenu almost disappearing while others show that the current investigation has had no impact at all. Some show both Shas and Yishai’s ‘Yachad, Ha’am Itanu’ party struggling to make threshold, while others have both comfortably in the seats. More on this later in the week.