March 28, 2006


Victory puts Olmert at centre of Israeli politics (Tim Butcher, 29/03/2006, Daily Telegraph)

The political landscape of Israel was redrawn last night as the newly-formed Kadima party led by Ehud Olmert became the first centrist movement to win an Israeli general election in the 58-year history of the Jewish state. [...]

"We are ready to compromise, to give up parts of the beloved Land of Israel … and evacuate, under great pain, Jews living there, in order to create the conditions that will enable you to fulfil your dream and live alongside us," he said.

"It is time for the Palestinians to change their ethos, to accept compromise as soon as possible. If they manage to do this soon, we will sit and work out a plan. If not, Israel will take control of its own fate, and in consensus among our people and with the agreement of the world and US President George Bush, we will act. The time has come to act."

As the results came in there were gains for Left-wing parties including Labour and a surprisingly strong performance by a party campaigning for pensioners but the election was a disaster for the Right-wing Likud, which lost two thirds of its seats.

According to the first exit polls, Kadima (which means Forward) won 30-32 seats, fewer than the 35-40 seats suggested by earlier polls but still enough to ensure Mr Olmert would lead the next government as prime minister.

Voters turn their backs on Israeli hardliners (Stephen Farrell, 3/29/06, Times of London)
In a late-night victory speech Ehud Olmert spoke of a new chapter in Israel’s history, offering peace to its enemies and uniting internal divisions.

Just four months after the party was formed by Ariel Sharon – to whom Mr Olmert paid fulsome tribute – Kadima was predicted to win 28 seats after votes were counted in 50 per cent of polling stations, according to Israel Channel 10 Televison.

The centre-left Labour party came second, winning 20 seats, leaving Mr Olmert the possibility of heading a centre-left coalition with more than half of the Israeli parliament’s 120 seats.

In a major blow for Binyamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister and anointed heir to Mr Sharon until last year, his divided and bickering Likud Party was reduced to a right wing parliamentary rump, predicted to win just 12 seats.

Kadima badly needs Bibi's economic vision.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 28, 2006 10:01 PM

"Kadima badly needs Bibi's economic vision." They might still get it.

Kadima will need at least two parties to come on board, three if they don't want to work with Labor. It wouldn't be that big of a stretch to see Likud be a junior partner in a Kadima government.

Posted by: Mark Byron at March 29, 2006 6:43 AM

Emanuele Ottolenghi is a bit less sanguine.

Note: Ottolenghi's claim regarding the Katyusha rocket fired from Gaza appears to be incorrect: the two Bedouin were killed handling an unexploded Qassam rocket.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 29, 2006 9:11 AM

The leading party got only 28 seats which is not even 25 per cent of the seats. It will be 4 parties forming a government with a two or three seat majority. The conservative leaning (by Israeli standards at least) Kadima party will have to govern with socialists, communists and right wing Orthodox Jews at the same time. Wild.

Posted by: Bob at March 29, 2006 12:15 PM

For all its limitations, there is an advantage to an electoral system that drives to 2 parties. They can govern.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at March 29, 2006 12:21 PM


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» A win for peace? from ReidBlog
The final Israeli election tallies for the moderate Kadima party clear the way to a center-left governing coalition. [Read More]