Kafe Knesset for March 29
Never-ending crisis mode: PM Netanyahu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon met this morning for the fourth time this week, in an attempt to find an agreed-upon solution to the Israel Broadcasting Corporation standoff, but there’s still no cease-fire on the horizon. According to a well-informed source, both sides have demonstrated “goodwill” and are trying to find a solution, but legal restraints are still preventing the end of this debacle. Kahlon has apparently agreed to many changes in the structure and essence of the IBC but he insists that it go on air on the date scheduled by the law – the 30th of April. However, many of Netanyahu’s plans to increase government supervision over the new channel have been met with Justice Ministry objections, so at the moment discussions are set to continue and Netanyahu and Kahlon might meet again today.
The public, by the way, appears to side with Kahlon. An Internet panel poll published today on Walla News shows that 41 percent of Israelis side with Kahlon, and only 27% support Netanyahu. The rest – more than 30% of the respondents, don’t know or don’t care. Most Israelis believe that Netanyahu’s election threat is a bluff – 67% said that they believe Netanyahu is just threatening to call for early elections and only 16% believe he is serious. If an election was held today, the poll further reveals, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid would win with 28 seats, while the Likud would only get 24. The Jewish Home is projected to get 13 seats, the Joint (Arab) List 12, the Zionist Union with a steady 10 followed by Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, Kahlons Kulanu, and the Haredi UTJ with 7 seats each. Meretz and Shas end the list with 6 seats each.
Bar Mitzvah Summit: Meanwhile, while Netanyahu and Kahlon’s aides were trying to find a compromise, a Bar Mitzvah was the hottest political scene last night. The Bar Mitzvah turned into a high-level summit, which included Kahlon, Herzog and Shas leader Aryeh Deri. Ariel Mishal, one of Deri’s closest aides and director-general of Deri’s Negev and Galilee Ministry, invited all of the top officials to his son’s Bar Mitzvah. Herzog, just back from AIPAC, was the center of attention, holding not-so-discrete discussions with Deri and Kahlon, who arrived at the event after his night time meeting with BB. Deri tweeted that he enjoyed speaking with Herzog and called to him to join a unity government: “The challenges facing Israel require Herzog and his party join the government.” That tweet was enough to raise speculation and concerns amongst Labor party members that Herzog could be planning a new move to postpone his upcoming primary elections yet again. Aware of the never-ending party suspicions towards him, Herzog swiftly tweeted in reply that he calls on Deri to support the alternative government he has been plotting during this last crisis. “Come join my alternative government. It’s the right path for Israel,” he wrote. Tomorrow, the Labor party convention is set to take place and approve the July 3rd primary date, after months of Herzog trying to stall the process.
Hola, Nicaragua: Netanyahu has always had a flare for the dramatic, so he teased a new diplomatic development yesterday, saying in a speech that Israel has ties with over 160 countries and that the number would rise within a week. The mystery was solved pretty quickly, and by Wednesday morning, it was announced that Israel once again has restored diplomatic relations with Nicaragua. The Central American country cut ties with Israel seven years ago, over the Mavi Marmara incident. The renewed relations came as part of a Foreign Ministry goal to reestablish ties with four Latin American countries that have been hostile to Israel in recent years; the others are Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia.