Israel Elections Updates / Only 37 Newbies Sign Up to Run in Labor Primaries

88 days to go: Head of Israel’s Reform Movement to seek place in Knesset; Feiglin drops out of race for Likud chair, only Danny Danon left to challenge PM.

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Haaretz's latest political analyses and opinions: 88 testing days of grace and dread before the 2015 Israeli election (Ari Shavit)Naftali Bennett is the anti-Messiah of American Jewry (Eric Yoffie)

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11:41 P.M. Only 37 Labor newbies sign up to run in Labor-Hatnuah primaries

Only 37 new Labor candidates will vie for slots on the combined Labor-Hatnuah ticket in the party primaries on January 13.

The candidates include journalist Zohair Bahloul, economist Dr. Yossi Yona, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of Reform Judaism in Israel, attorney Eldad Yaniv and media figure Eitan Schwartz. Among the new women running for the slate are attorney Revital Swid, lobbyist Behira Bardugo and party activist Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin.

Two slots in every 10 on Labor’s list have been reserved for women.

Unlike the previous elections, when a number of well-known figures ran on Labor’s ticket, most of the new candidates this time are unknown.

All the party’s current MKs, except Benjamin Ben Eliezer and Professor Avishay Braverman, have registered to run again for seats in the next Knesset. (Jonathan Lis)

8:38 P.M. Tkumah turns to rabbis to advise on Habayit Hayehudi break

The central committee of the Tkumah party decided to ask the party’s rabbinical advisers whether to join breakaway Shas leader MK Eli Yishai’s new party or continue as part of the joint Tkumah-Habayit Hayehudi slate.

The central committee met in the office of Housing Minister Uri Ariel to discuss a proposal by Habayit Hayehudi chairman, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, to reserve four slots for Tkumah members among the first 18 places on a joint ticket in the upcoming elections.

The debate was stormy, with opponents of a joint list saying that Tkumah would be swallowed up in Habayit Hayehudi. However supporters said it would be better to be part of a large, influential party than to end up as a small faction with a paltry number of seats.

The Tkumah rabbis who have been asked to decide the matter include Rabbi Dov Lior and Rabbi Zephaniah Drori. The rabbis themselves are reportedly divided over the matter. (Chaim Levinson) 

6:33 P.M Head of Israel’s Reform Movement to seek place in Knesset as Labor MK

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, will be running for a slot on the Labor Party list in the upcoming Knesset.

“A heavy cloud threatens Israeli society,” he said in a message posted on his Facebook page. “Extremism has strengthened and become more threatening, and religious and nationalist zealotry have moved from the margins to the center. Today it is clearer than ever: The Labor Party must present a real alternative to these disturbing phenomenon and present a democratic, moderate, sane, Zionist and Israeli agenda.”

Kariv notified Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog of his decision today. He is not being guaranteed a sure spot on the party list, as were some of the other recent Labor acquisitions, most notably Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and senior economist Emanuel Trajtenberg. Read the full article

2:05 P.M. Ex-Israeli envoy Oren expected to run on Kahlon’s list

Former Communications Minister and Likud member Moshe Kahlon, who recently launched his new Kulanu party, is in the process of compiling his Knesset electoral list and is expected to announce former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren's intention to run.

The other candidates likely to be included on Kahlon's list include architect and former adviser to Ehud Barak, Orna Angel; Alona Barakat, the chairperson of Hapoel Be’er Sheva soccer club; and Shai Babad, who resigned this week from his position as director-general of the Second Authority Broadcasting Company.

12:00 P.M. Netanyahu still considered most viable candidate

The latest Haaretz-Dialog poll shows that Israelis still consider Benjamin Netanyahu the most suitable candidate for prime minister.. However, the poll also reveals that a solid majority believes that the state under Netanyahu’s leadership is not heading in the right direction.

The poll was conducted on Tuesday among a representative sample of the Israeli public, supervised by Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University. According to the poll, if the elections were held today, Likud and the joint Labor-Hatnua party would score 21 Knesset seats each. The previous Dialog survey, held some three weeks ago, before the Herzog-Livni merger, predicted Likud would win 24 Knesset seats.

8:00 A.M. Only one opponent for Netanyahu in Likud primary

Likud's legal council declared late Wednesday that elections for the party's Knesset list and for its new chairperson would be conducted simultaneously, accepting an appeal filed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both votes are scheduled to take place on December 31.

Likud MK Moshe Feiglin said following the announcement that he would bow out of the race for the Likud leadership, while MK Danny Danon stated that he was still in the running.