JERUSALEM (Sep. 28)
No fewer than 28 political parties will compete for the 120 Knesset seats in Israel’s general elections on Nov. 1.
All had duly registered and paid their $7,660 deposit by the time the lists closed at midnight Wednesday.
But the number of competing parties could be reduced by two. Lawsuits have been filed to bar Rabbi Meir Kahane’s extremist Kach party and the Progressive List for Peace, from participating in the race. The Progressive List is an Arab-Jewish faction at the far left of the political spectrum.
Israel’s High Court of Justice will have to decide those cases before Election Day.
The proliferation of parties is due in large measure to the unprecedented fragmentation of the religious block into six rival factions.
It was caused by 11th-hour splits in the Agudat Yisrael and Shas parties. The National Religious Party split in half several months ago. And a new middle-of-the-road religious party. Meimad, was launched recently by Rabbi Yehuda Amital.
An Agudah breakaway list was set up at the urging of the party’s Bnei Brak sage, Rabbi Eliezer Schach. It is headed by Rabbi Avraham Ravitz, a well known Jerusalem yeshiva head, and represents the Lithuanian element in the Agudah camp.
Schach has been feuding with the party’s Hasidic faction.
The Shas party broke apart when one of its Knesset members, Shimon Ben-Shlomo, discovered he had not been given a safe spot on the party’s election list.
Ben-Shlomo is allied with Baruch Abuhatzeira, son of the late holy man, Baba Salli. This is the Moroccan or “Baba” branch of the party, which has challenged the Shas establishment.
Apart from the ferment in the religious ranks, little other drama has developed. Likud has managed to resolve its internal dispute over the one-man Ometz faction of former Finance Minister Yigael Hurvitz.
Pressed by Premier Yitzhak Shamir, the party agreed to place Hurvitz in the sixth spot and his lieutenant, Zalman Shoval, in the 40th, which is considered realistic under Israel’s proportional representation system.