How a rule change helped Netanyahu win Israel’s election

Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared in CNN’s Meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter, a thrice-weekly look at the region’s top stories. Sign up here.

Jerusalem and London

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu owes his victory in last week’s Israeli election in part to a change in election rules promoted by political opponents he is now shutting out of power, according to a CNN analysis of the Nov. 1 results.

Netanyahu and his allies will have a small but clear majority of seats in parliament, the Knesset, but won the popular vote by a razor-thin margin.

One of the reasons his Knesset majority is greater than his popular victory is that three parties in the outgoing Knesset each won less than 3.25% of the popular vote, thus failing to win seats in the new parliament.

The irony of the situation is that it was Avigdor Liberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid who pushed to raise the threshold from 2% to 3.25% in 2014, when they were political allies of Netanyahu and in government with him.

Partly because of the rule change they wanted, they are now part of the outgoing coalition that he defeated. The Lapid-Liberman coalition would win seats if the threshold were still 2%.

Another reason Netanyahu won decisively is that two small parties in the anti-Netanyahu camp did not join forces with larger parties, one of Israel’s top pollsters said.

If the left-wing Meretz party ran on a joint ticket with Labor and the Arab Balad party did not split from the Joint List party with which they ran last time, then Tuesday’s election would produce a 60-60 deadlock, Camil Fuchs. , a leading Israeli pollster, told CNN on Monday.

Both parties failed to cross the threshold: Meretz obtained 3.2% of the popular vote and Balad 2.9%. Together they got less than 300,000 votes.

All votes for those parties were effectively discarded.

The popular vote was very close.

If all the votes from the outgoing Knesset parties are counted, Netanyahu and his allies come out with fewer than 40,000 votes ahead of their opponents, out of more than 4.7 million votes cast.

In the elections of November 1, 40 parties competed, of which 13 obtained more than 0.5% of the popular vote.

Five of these 13 – Likud, Religious Zionism/Jewish Power, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Jewish Home – are on the pro-Netanyahu side of Israel’s political divide. Together they took 49.6% of the popular vote, according to the final results of the Central Electoral Committee: about 2.36 million votes.

The other eight are anti-Netanyahu and took 48.9% of the popular vote, or about 2.33 million votes, a difference of 0.7 percentage points, or just over 30,000 votes.

The exact number of votes per party will be certified on November 9.

But the electoral threshold rule worked in Netanyahu’s favor. Only one of the parties on his side, Jewish Home, did not get more than 3.25% of the total vote; they got 1.2%, or 56,760 votes, and would have been forced out of the Knesset under the old 2% rule.

The threshold has been decisive in at least one previous election. Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister in 1992 even though the left lost the popular vote; a right-wing party failed to cross the threshold, which at the time was 1.5%.

Iranian lawmakers sent a letter to the country’s leadership on Sunday calling for severe punishment to be imposed on those guilty of being involved in the protests, according to state-run Press TV.

The letter was signed by 227 of Iran’s 290 members of parliament, and compared some of the protesters to ISIS militants.

The MPs’ letter also reiterated the government’s claims that the ongoing protests were incited by the US and other enemies of Iran. Iran has provided no evidence to support its claims of foreign involvement in the protest movement.

Here’s the latest:

  • A video posted on social media showed Iranian beach soccer player Saeid Piramoon celebrating after scoring a goal against Brazil by making a symbolic gesture mimicking the haircut, apparently in support of the protesters.
  • The Iranian Nasrin Qadri died this Saturday in Tehran after “suffering serious injuries” caused by baton blows to the head by the Iranian security forces, according to the Kurdish human rights group Hengaw and the activist medium IranWire. Nasrin’s father said in an on-camera statement broadcast on state television that his daughter died of the flu.
  • Asked about the situation in Iran, Pope Francis did not address it specifically but said that a society that does not value women’s equality is one that will not progress.

UK PM to raise issue of jailed British-Egyptian writer with Egyptian leadership during COP27 trip

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has written to the sister of jailed British-Egyptian writer and activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who is jailed in Cairo, saying she is “deeply committed” to solving her brother’s case. In the letter to Abdel-Fattah’s sister, shared with CNN by his family, Sunak said he was “very concerned” to learn of the writer’s “deteriorating health”, adding that his case “remains a priority for the British government “.

  • background: Abdel-Fattah is a prominent activist in the country’s 2011 uprising who was imprisoned for nine years. He was recently sentenced in December 2021 to five years for spreading fake news.
  • Why it matters: Abdel-Fattah intensified a hunger strike of more than 200 days this Sunday by stopping drinking water, as his sister, the activist Sanaa Seif, wrote on Twitter. In a letter written to Sunak and shared with CNN, Seif said: “I sincerely believe that if Alaa is not released in the next few days, he will die in person, quite possibly while you are in Egypt.” A UK Foreign Office spokesman told CNN in a statement that the government was working hard to secure Abdel-Fattah’s release.

Iran acknowledges ‘pre-war’ drone shipments to Russia; Kiev says Tehran is lying

Iran acknowledged for the first time on Saturday that it supplied Moscow with drones, but said they were sent before the war in Ukraine. Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said a “small number” of drones were sent a few months before Russia’s invasion in February. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Tehran of lying.

  • background: In recent weeks, Ukraine has reported an increase in drone attacks against civilian infrastructure, particularly targeting power plants and dams, using Iranian-made drones. Russia denies its forces used Iranian drones to attack Ukraine. “We shoot down at least ten Iranian drones every day, and the Iranian regime claims that it allegedly gave little and even before the start of the large-scale invasion,” Zelensky said.
  • Why it matters: The European Union last month agreed to new sanctions on Iran over drone deliveries, and Britain imposed sanctions on three Iranian military personnel and a defense manufacturer. Amirabdollahian repeated that Tehran “would not remain indifferent” if it was proven that Russia used Iranian drones against Ukraine.

Sweden to distance itself from Kurdish groups in a bid to join NATO

Sweden’s new government will distance itself from the YPG, a Kurdish militia, as it tries to win Turkey’s approval to join NATO, Sweden’s foreign minister told Reuters on Saturday.

  • background: Turkey considers the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG and its political branch PYD to be extensions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which launched an insurgency against Turkey in 1980 and is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. . Sweden, along with the United States and other NATO countries, has supported the YPG in the fight against ISIS.
  • Why it matters: Turkey has vowed to block Sweden’s application to join NATO if it does not stop supporting the militia. The Swedish move comes just days before Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson travels to Ankara to try to convince Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to allow Sweden to join the military alliance. Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO earlier this year as a direct result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Toomaj Salehi, an Iranian rapper who used his politically charged lyrics to call for protests, has been arrested by the Islamic Republic and charged with crimes punishable by death. The underground artist had been rebelling against the regime for years.

CNN’s Jomana Karadsheh tells her story here:

Long before world leaders began flocking to Egypt’s Red Sea Sharm el-Sheikh for the COP27 climate summit, Australian activist Mike Smith has been working on the banks of the country’s Nile River, collecting plastic bottles used

His mission resulted in the creation of a large three-story pyramid of nearly 1 million compressed plastic bottles, which are displayed on Egypt’s Giza Plateau just days before the summit.

“It’s a bold project that we’re launching, with the goal of cleaning up the planet every year, for the next 100 years,” Smith told the Australian Associated Press. “The goal is to be able to remove 15 million bottles of waste water from the natural environment, every year, worldwide.”

The activist has been campaigning for years to reduce the proliferation of single-use plastics with eye-catching projects.

Last year, he used his startup, Zero COh, to push Australian households to remove single-use plastics from their homes. And in 2020, he reportedly snorkeled with more than 3,000 plastic bottles strapped to his back to raise awareness of the dire effects of ocean pollution.

As world leaders arrive in Egypt to start this year’s climate summit, Smith told the Australian Associated Press he will sleep in a small tent atop his pyramid of plastic bottles.

COP27 runs from Sunday to November 18.

By Nadeen Ebrahim

Saudis attend the Noor Riyadh lighting festival held at Al-Salam Park in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.  More than 190 works of art are being exhibited in public spaces in Riyadh.

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