A Word From Our Chairs: Special Israeli Election Update, Part 1

Apr 9, 2019 | A Word from Our Chair, CIJA Publications

Special Israeli Election Update, Part 1|

Photo Credit: The Jerusalem Post

Israeli democracy is a lively affair, on full display today as 5.8 million eligible voters head to the polls to cast ballots and elect the 21st Knesset. As is normal in Israeli elections, voter turnout is expected to be high, likely greater than 70%. Like you, we are watching with great interest, and offer the following for your consideration as the returns come in.

Unlike in a Canadian election, once the votes are counted in Israel, we still won’t really know what the results are or what they mean. Therefore, it is very important that observers not draw hasty conclusions. As you know, in Israel, going to the polls is the first in a series of steps. Once the ballots are counted, President Rivlin will consult with each of the party leaders who have been elected to the Knesset. Based on those discussions, he will determine who he believes has the best chance of forming a government.

The leader who gets the nod will then have up to 42 days to form a governing coalition. During this time, negotiations are intense, and usually private. If a coalition is not formed within that timeframe, the leader can request an extension, or President Rivlin will ask the next party leader to try. Given the intensity and complexity of the negotiations, it is unwise and indeed unhelpful at this stage to make predictions.

It is important to understand that the issues facing Israelis are, in many respects, existential in nature. Security is always top of mind, which is why so much passion attaches to the campaign. But there can be no doubt that even though we may disagree with the positions of individual candidates, all who stand for public office are motivated by wanting to make a meaningful contribution to the Zionist project and the fulfilment of our aspirations as an indigenous people re-establishing ourselves in our ancestral homeland.

Over the coming weeks, the Israeli democratic process will proceed to determine who is best positioned to form a government, strengthen relationships in the region, embark upon the much-anticipated Trump peace process, and continue to play an important role globally promoting Israel as a leader in technology, health care, the environment, and water and food security.

Throughout that process, the task and responsibility for us in the Diaspora Jewish community is to work towards unity. We do not require uniformity of opinion – rather, unity of purpose and spirit, and support for the complicated workings of Israeli democracy.

CIJA looks forward to being a leading voice in promoting that sense of purpose and unity, of promoting the legitimacy and recognizing the complexity of the Jewish state, and of celebrating the values shared by Israel and its many sister democracies around the world – including our own here in Canada.

This is the first in a series of emails we will send you about this election. In the meantime, should you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions – on this or any other issue – please get in touch.

Warm Regards,

Joel Reitman  Jeffrey Rosenthal
Co-Chair CIJA Board   Co-Chair CIJA Board 



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