dinsdag 17 maart 2015

Netanyahu blundert 2x op verkiezingsdag


Twee blunders in een halve dag: vanmorgen weigerde Netanyahu een interview bij Channel 10 zolang Maariv journalist Ben Caspit daarbij aanwezig was. Eerder deze week haalde hij ook al zo'n 'Poetinstreek' uit:


Last week Netanyahu refused to be interviewed by Channel 10 because the station would not expel Raviv Drucker, another Netanyahu nemesis, from the studio. Netanyahu was interviewed by Channel 2 and Channel 1. During his interview with Channel 2, anchor Yonit Levi asked him whether his behavior with journalists was not "a bit Putinesque."

Vandaag liet Netanyahu merken dat hij bezorgd is over het hoge aantal Arabieren dat deze keer lijkt te gaan stemmen (is dat niet juist democratie en een teken van integratie?) De Jeruzalem Post schrijft:


13:35 p.m. "The Right-wing controlled government is in danger," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday.  
"Arab voters are going to the vote in droves. The Left-wing organizations are bringing them to the polling stations in buses," Netanyahu wrote.


Een centrumlinkse regering zal Israel niet alleen een beter imago geven in het buitenland, wat doen aan de ontoelaatbare en almaar groeiende kloof tussen arm en rijk in Israel, maar ook voorkomen dat Netanyahu zich teveel als despoot zal gedragen. Na twee regeringsperiodes waarin de relatie met de VS en Europa op een dieptepunt kwam, is het hoog tijd voor verandering.





Netanyahu pounded for expressing worry over high Arab turnout


Over 37 percent of Israeli voters cast ballots by 2 p.m., a slight downturn from 2013; fraud suspected at Umm al-Fahm ballot booth; grandfather of Likud MK dies at polling station

  March 17, 2015, 7:20 am 




Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. on Tuesday as Israeli citizens headed for the ballots to vote for Israel's 20th Knesset, bringing a heated campaign season to a close.

Polls from the end of last week left options open for a tight race.

Late Monday evening Zionist Union announced that co-leader Tzipi Livni is willing to forgo rotating the premiership with Isaac Herzog should the joint Labor-Hatnua list win.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud, vying for the role for his fourth time (third consecutively), made a last-ditch attempt over the past days to win back voters mainly from the right-wing bloc, vowing Monday night to block a Palestinian state should he remain in office.

He also criticized Zionist Union's announcement, saying it was indicative of panic.

Unlike years past, analysts have said the race between the two leading factions is too close to call with confidence, though the real drama will likely come in the next few weeks, as smaller parties make recommendations for prime minister, swaying each side's ability to form a coalition. Among the possible juggernauts are the upstart Kulanu party, the Joint List, which brought together the main Arab parties for the first time, and the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

Exit polls are expected at 10 p.m., after which official results will begin to roll in.

The Times of Israel is bringing you updates throughout the day.





Voter fraud reports trickle in

At least 51 police investigations are open today over suspicions of voter fraud.

The cases include impersonating other voters, falsifying ballots and stealing party slips.

Out of nearly 800 fraud accusations made to police today, one suspect is already under arrest and 23 are being held for investigation.

In Safed, a 24-year-old resident arrives at the polling booth and discovers he is already listed as having voted.

In Umm al-Fahm, one senior polling station coordinator is arrested after he is allegedly seen placing multiple envelopes into the ballot box.



Arab turnout 12 points behind Jewish – report

Arab turnout as of 6 p.m. reaches 45%, according to Channel 2, over nine points behind the overall turnout — and some 12 points behind Jewish turnout.

Arab turnout, or warnings against it, form the main message on the right on Election Day.

Foreign funding and "leftist NGOs" are driving high Arab turnout in order to topple Likud, Netanyahu has warned multiple times today.


Change is coming, exults Labor MK Shaffir

Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir sounds a decidedly optimistic tone.

"We feel the change in every ballot box that we visit, and mainly in the frightened responses of Likud," Shaffir says.

Netanyahu has warned multiple times in recent days that his Likud party was falling behind Zionist Union and could lose the election.

"Netanyahu has been in a frightful panic over the looming moment in which he will have to leave his seat, and is not above any measure or any lie or fear-mongering" to prevent that, she charges.

She slams Netanyahu's statement earlier today in which the PM warned his supporters that Arab turnout was unexpectedly high. "A prime minister who comes out against voting in democratic elections — who has heard of such a thing?"


Likud is losing, warns Netanyahu

The ruling Likud party is losing the election, Netanyahu warns.

In a press statement uploaded to his Facebook page — electioneering is forbidden in Israel's formal media outlets on Election Day — Netanyahu paints a dire picture meant to mobilize right-wing voters to the polls.

"We're in a fateful campaign. There is still a meaningful gap between Labor and Likud. The only way to shrink the gap is to go to the ballot box and vote 'Mahal,'" Netanyahu says, a reference to the letter-based symbols on Likud's election slip.

Netanyahu blames foreign government and left-wing NGOs for the left's improved showing in this election.

"The gap between Labor and Likud is based primarily on foreign funds that flow in vast quantities to leftist NGOs. Its purpose is to replace a Likud government headed by me with a left government supported by the Arab list," he says

Ayman Odeh, chair of the Arab Joint List, figures large in Netanyahu's warning to the right.

"Ayman Odeh, who supports [Zionist Union leader Isaac] Herzog, has already said not only that I must be replaced, but that I should be put in prison for defending the citizens of Israel and the lives of IDF soldiers [during last summer's Gaza war]…. A left government that depends on such a list will surrender at every step, on Jerusalem, the 1967 lines, on everything," Netanyahu rails, "and therefore there's an immense effort of leftist NGOs to mobilize voters from the left bloc, primarily in the Arab sector, and in areas where leftists vote."

Netanyahu's warnings of high Arab turnout have been roundly condemned by the left and center earlier throughout the day. He addresses the criticism in his statement.

"I want to clarify: there is nothing illegitimate with citizens voting, Jewish or Arab, as they see fit. What is not legitimate is the funding, the fact that money comes from abroad from NGOs and foreign governments, brings them en masse to the ballot box in an organized fashion, in favor of the left, gives undue power to the extremist Arab list, and weakens the right bloc in such a way that we will be unable to build a government — despite the fact that most citizens of Israel support the national camp and support me as the prime minister from Likud."


In Internet video, PM blasts broadcast restrictions

"All day politicians have been speaking in the media," Netanyahu protests.

Netanyahu had convened a press conference at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, but Israeli media was forbidden from broadcasting his appearance. Under Israeli election law, electioneering is not allowed on Election Day.

Netanyahu protests that left-wing politicians have been appearing in the media for much of the day.

"Tzipi [Livni], Boujie [Herzog], Yair [Lapid], representatives of the left, spoke in every possible studio and conducted flagrant electioneering," he charges at the press conference, which was not broadcast in Israeli media, but a video was uploaded to Netanyahu's Facebook page.

"The 'Just not Bibi' party doesn't stop speaking in the media without anyone disturbing them. The only one they decided to prohibit from speaking in the media is me, the Likud prime minister," he charges in the most direct accusation leveled by the prime minister against Central Election Committee chairman Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, who made the decision to nix the broadcast.

"No one will shut us up," he vows. "In a democratic state, even a Likud prime minister has the right to say his piece."

Joubran himself has called for changing Israeli election law to lift or significantly ease the restrictions against electioneering, and has enforced the law relatively lightly over the course of the campaign. He has not initiated any cancellations of media appearances himself, but has enforced them when competing parties appealed against them. In the case of Netanyahu's Tuesday press conference, Joubran responded to appeals from Yesh Atid and Zionist Union against the conference.

Joubran also forbade the airing of a Zionist Union press conference this afternoon.



Voter turnout hits 54.6% at 6 p.m.

Turnout at 6 p.m. hits 54.6 percent of eligible voters, 0.9 points below the number in 2013 at that hour.

Polls close throughout the country at 10 p.m.


Far-right Yishai vows a vote for him helps PM

Eli Yishai, chairman of the far-right Yachad party, urged voters to help save his party from disappearing below the electoral threshold in the final hours of Election Day on Tuesday.

"The entire right carries the Yachad party on its shoulders. Help us ensure victory for [Benjamin] Netanyahu," Yishai said in a statement.

While Netanyahu has spent the day frantically calling on right-wing voters to vote for his Likud party, which has fallen behind the center-left Zionist Union in the last published polls on Friday, Yishai insisted that only a vote for Yachad would ensure Likud victory.

"You have to understand," Yishai told potential voters, "that without a strong Yachad Netanyahu won't have a majority [of recommendations] to the president," who, after elections, chooses which party leader to task with forming a coalition


Election Committee bars PM's press conference

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls a press conference for 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, just four hours before polls close on Election Day.

But the Yesh Atid and Zionist Union parties appeal to Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, who heads the Central Election Committee, to forbid the press conference.

Campaigning is forbidden on Election Day itself, and Joubran rules that a live press conference would constitute a campaign ad by default.

Likud has until 6:30 p.m. to appeal Joubran's decision.


Online betting sites favor Netanyahu for PM

Online betting sites show a distinctly pro-Netanyahu tilt, though the margins vary widely, according to a list compiled by Channel 2 television news.

Bettors on the Predictit site favor Netanyahu by 56 percent to 44, on the Hypermind site by 67% to 33%, and on the Predictwise predictions site by an even steeper 80% to 20%.



Shas sticks with supernatural campaign

The Shas campaign isn't holding back. It's pushing its greatest political asset, its followers spiritual world, to the hilt on Election Day.

We've already reported on the business-card-sized slips that purport to quote the party's deceased founder and spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef promising that anyone who votes Shas is guaranteed entrance into heaven.

This afternoon, voters began reporting receiving text messages containing the following message:

Maran [our master] the Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: "I do not forgive anyone who does not vote Shas, neither in this world nor in the next."


'Turnout in Arab sector not so good'

Our Arab affairs reporter, Elhanan Miller, tours Arab communities in northern Israel on Election Day.

"Turnout in the Arab sector is not so good," said councillor Rawan Abu Leil, 21, from the village of Ein Mahel. "We're encouraging people to vote, no matter for what party.״


No evidence of high Arab turnout

According to Ynet and Channel 2, there is no indication that turnout in Arab communities is significantly higher than in past elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement earlier Tuesday warning right-wing voters that Arab turnout was very high.

"We're worried about high turnout in the Arab sector," a Likud campaign statement said. "Arab voters are heading en masse to the voting booth," it warned.

The statement drew condemnation from the left and center, with accusations of racism behind the warning of Arab turnout.

On Tuesday afternoon, Netanyahu's campaign issued a clarification. "What's illegitimate is not Arabs voting as such, but the huge funds from overseas from leftist NGOs and foreign governments bringing them en masse to the polling stations in an organized fashion — and thus warping the actual wishes of the electorate of Israel's citizens writ large in favor of the left."


Turnout by 4 p.m. at 45.4%

45.4% of eligible voters cast their ballots by 4 p.m., slightly less than the 46.6% measured by 4 p.m. during the 2013 election.

Turnout among IDF soldiers is nearly 3% higher for this time of day.


Bennett fears a fall to single digits

Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett is worried that his party may end up with Knesset seats in the single digits.

Speaking to Israel National News, Bennett says, "I returned from Holon, Bat Yam, Beersheba, Kiryat Gat, Kiryat Malachi and now I'm headed for Jerusalem – the regional branches give us reports and the situation is not very good.

"There is a massive siphoning of votes from Jewish Home to Likud, including in the heart of hearts of religious Zionism — a feeling like Likud is trying to crush us," Bennett says.

"I think this will be a great mistake since a large Likud with a small Jewish Home is a very dangerous thing, and has led to the disengagement, the Hebron agreement and the Bar-Ilan speech," Bennett says.

The Jewish Home leader called on the public not to vote strategically: "I call on the public to vote from the heart, not do these calculations, because in the end it will cause us great damage.

"I feel there are a lot of votes moving from Jewish Home to Likud. Likud is anyway in very good shape and what matters is the number of people who recommend to the president" who should form the next coalition, he adds.

"We mustn't become a single-digit number [of seats in the Knesset]. I am optimistic because there are still many hours left," Bennett concludes.



Bedouin radio calls for liberation of Gaza

Radio stations in Tel Sheva and Rahat, two Bedouin communities in the Negev, call on residents of the area to vote for the Joint (Arab) List.

There are 93,000 eligible voters in Rahat and Tel Sheva.

More disconcertingly, the stations also air songs calling for the liberation of "Palestine," and slogans like "We have beaten the Zionist; we will raise arms to liberate the land of Gaza," Israel Radio reports.


Yachad, Shas bicker over radio stations

Eli Yishai's Yachad party filed a complaint with the Central Elections Committee against ultra-Orthodox radio station Kol Chai, while Shas filed its own complaint against the Kol Berama radio station.

Eli Yishai's call to Shas for a truce yesterday fell on deaf ears, evidently, as the few reports of irregularities involved mainly activists of these two parties.

Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Salim Joubran issued restraining orders to both radio stations mandating that they refrain from broadcasting election material, even as he noted that he was not sure broadcasts on Tuesday violated the prohibition against electioneering on Election Day.

"I listened to the programming of Kol Chai radio and did not hear material that constituted electioneering," Joubran wrote. Regarding Shas's claim, Joubran again did not say electioneering material was aired but issued the restraining order "for the possibility it may be so."

Kol Berama was initially established under sponsorship from Shas, when Ariel Atias served as communications minister. But Shas has claimed the station is biased against the party since Yachad splintered from Shas. Zvi Amar, the owner of Kol Berama, is an associate of Yishai as well as of Rabbi Meir Mazuz, the spiritual leader of Yachad, NRG reports.



Hadash MK visits Joint List HQ in Umm al-Fahm

MK Afu Aghbariyah (Hadash) visits the headquarters of the Joint (Arab) List in Umm al-Fahm.

"Time to let the younger generation advance," says Aghbariyah, who was placed in a honorary spot low on the list.

– Elhanan Miller


Yachimovich skewers Netanyahu

Shelly Yachimovich, No. 2 on the Zionist Union list, slams Netanyahu for his alarmist call to Likud voters regarding a high turnout in the Arab sector.

Answering a question from a voter on Facebook, Yachimovich says: "No Western leader would dare utter such a racist comment. Imagine a prime minister/president in any democracy who would warn that his rule is in jeopardy because, e.g., 'Black voters are coming in droves to the polling stations'… Horrendous, isn't it? In any case, I think what worries Bibi is that Israeli citizens are moving in droves to the ballots, and quite simply want to democratically topple him."


29% of IDF soldiers vote by 12 p.m.

29% of IDF soldiers have voted by noon, 2.8% more than during the 2013 election.


Turnout at 2 p.m. is 36.7%

36.7% of Israelis cast their ballots by 2 p.m., slightly lower than in 2013 (38.3%) but slightly higher than in 2009 (34.0%).

The Central Election Committee publicizes the voter turnout every two hours on Election Day, starting at 10 a.m.

The highest final turnout since 1973 has been 79.7%, in 1988. The lowest turnout was in 2001, 62.3%.


On way to wedding, couple votes with Yair Lapid

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid accompanied Victoria and Gary, who are getting married today, as they went to the ballot box. The soon-to-be-married couple are both declared Yesh Atid voters.

Victoria and Gary, both 35, live in Ramat Pinkas and are getting married later today in Ness Ziona.

"It's important for us to vote for our children's future before we get married so we voted Yesh Atid. We believe that Yair Lapid and Yesh Atid is the way forward for our country," they say, according to a statement from the party.

Lapid congratulates them on their choice as well as on their nuptials: "It's so exciting that you chose to start your wedding day like this. Just before the wedding I'll be with you on your way to the voting booth, excited to meet you and happy that you are voting for Yesh Atid. A vote for us is a vote for a better future for us and for your children."



Tibi fires back at Netanyahu

Joint (Arab) List candidate Ahmed Tibi says "Netanyahu is panicking, inciting against Arab voters who are fulfilling their natural and democratic right like any other citizen." "Netanyahu and Likud," says Tibi, are "scared, and this is why I call on the Arab public to go out to vote in bigger numbers so that Bibi continue to panic. Change is afoot."

Netanyahu later says the problem is not Arab voting on its own but the fact that massive funds from foreign government and other sources abroad is used to drive Israeli Arabs to polling stations and "thus distorts the true will of most Israeli voters in favor of the left."


13k people share on Facebook that they voted

13,000 people share on Facebook that they have already voted, according to a Facebook graph generated in real time.

A Facebook showing the amount of people who shared on Facebook that they have voted in the Israeli elections. (photo credit: Screen Capture, Facebook)

While the number has little consequence (comprising only the voters who use Facebok and those who decided to reveal on the social media service that they have voted), it interestingly showed a consistent rise since the early morning hours but has started to gradually decline.


Police chief sees few irregularities so far

Police chief Yohanan Danino says that by 1:30 p.m. very few unusual events have been reported during the voting and adds that thousands of police officers were stationed near polling stations across the country.

Danino tells Israel Radio that when polling stations close, police cars will secure the transfer of all ballot boxes to the Central Election Committee in Jerusalem.


Head of Umm al-Fahem polling station held

The head of the Umm al-Fahem polling station committee is detained after the secretary at the station reports that he saw him inserting envelopes into the ballot box illegally.


Netanyahu nixes a newsman, again

Netanyahu for the second time in less than a week picks and chooses his journalists: the prime minister was interviewed by telephone on Channel 10 early this morning, but he demanded that Maariv reporter Ben Caspit leave the studio as a condition to giving the interview.

The management of Channel 10 decided not to cave in, but Caspit, who was a special guest on the panel of the Channel 10 morning show, voluntarily left the studio before the call started.

Caspit later tweets: "After many requests I agreed to wake up early and come to the Channel 10 studio this morning. And then it was found out that Bibi is not willing to do the interview as long as I am in the studio. It was clarified [to Netanyahu] that I will not ask any questions. He insisted, so I left."

Ben Caspit (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Caspit later tweets: "After we realized Bibi won't do the interview so long as I'm in the studio, I left of my own volition, so that the man 'strong against Hamas' will feel safe."

Guy Meroz and Orly Vilnai, the hosts of the morning show, asked Netanyahu why he refused to do the interview with Caspit present. Netanyahu said "he is not a journalist. People who badmouth me personally, badmouth my family — I do not owe them any benefits as if they are journalists."

Last week Netanyahu refused to be interviewed by Channel 10 because the station would not expel Raviv Drucker, another Netanyahu nemesis, from the studio. Netanyahu was interviewed by Channel  2 and Channel 1. During his interview with Channel 2, anchor Yonit Levi asked him whether his behavior with journalists was not "a bit Putinesque."

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