First Published: 2013-01-20

 

Israeli politicians make last-ditch appeals as Israel poll nears

 

Political infighting intensifies as parties scramble to win votes of 15 percent of Israelis who weekend opinion polls said were still undecided.

 

Middle East Online

Voting gets underway on January 22

JERUSALEM - Israeli soldiers headed to the polls on Sunday, two days ahead of a general election, the military said, as politicians made last-ditch appeals before nationwide voting gets underway on January 22.

The army said that the first military ballot boxes went into action at the defence ministry's massive Tel Aviv headquarters on Saturday for the benefit of "officers and soldiers unable to vote on Tuesday because of operational activity."

It said that voting would be extended to bases across the country on Sunday and Monday, in addition to Tuesday itself.

Outside the military, political infighting intensified as campaigning drew close to an end and parties scrambled to win the votes of the 15 percent of Israelis who weekend opinion polls said were still undecided.

The centrist HaTnuah of former foreign minister Tzipi Livni reportedly sought to disqualify one of the hardline pro-settler Jewish Home party's candidates after footage surfaced of him speculating about the destruction of Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock mosque, one of Islam's holiest sites.

Israeli television over the weekend screened a clip of US-born Jeremy Gimpel speaking to members of a Florida church during a 2011 trip to the United States.

"Imagine today if the dome, the golden dome -- I'm being recorded so I can't say blown up -- but let's say the dome was blown up, right, and we laid the cornerstone of the temple in Jerusalem, can you imagine?"

The chairman of the Central Elections Committee told army radio that he had yet to see a formal request to disqualify Gimpel, who is 14th on the Jewish Home's list.

With polls projecting the party to win between 12 to 15 seats in the new parliament, compared to three in the election of 2009, Gimpel's chances of winning a seat remain in the balance.

Jewish Home was also under fire from the nonagerian spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, who lambasted the party's brand of Orthodox, rather than ultra-Orthodox, Judaism.

"They call it the Jewish Home, it's the gentile home," the firebrand Rabbi Ovadia Yosef said in comments broadcast Sunday on public radio. "Anyone who supports them is an unbeliever."

Yosef, 92, was discharged from hospital a week ago after suffering a mild stroke.

Elsewhere, the heads of the major parties were making final pitches in appearances across the country.

Livni was to appear at a rally in the town of Sderot, near the border with Gaza, while Labour leader Shelly Yachimovich was scheduled for a campaign appearance in Tel Aviv.

Israeli Prime Minister and Likud head Benjamin Netanyahu was expected at the funeral of a settler pioneer, in the settlement of Ariel in the northern West Bank, while Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett was stopping in at a military base.

 

US admits IS most dangerous terror group it faced in recent years

Europe launches fresh UN bid to end Gaza conflict

Tougher penalties as UAE updates counter-terrorism law

Iraq Kurds launch offensive to retake Jalawla from IS

British jihadists on forefront on IS propaganda

Hammond: Britain will not work with Assad to combat IS

Gunmen open fire at Iraqi worshippers during Friday prayers

Abbas holds talks with Meshaal for second day

33 killed in fatal Egypt resort coach collision

Abbas holds talks with Meshaal in Doha

Iraq Kurds face real challenges in fight against IS jihadists

Death toll in Syria war tops 180,000

France delivered arms to Syrian rebels 'a few months ago'

US reveals failed operation to rescue American hostages in Syria

Somali journalists face trial for ‘violence incitement’

Iran asks West: What is our reward for help against IS jihadists?

Turkey ruling party meets to agree Davutoglu as PM

Kuwait nabs suspected Al-Nusra Front financier

Obama demands world action against jihadist ‘cancer’

Three senior Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades commanders killed in Gaza

Hamas armed wing declares end to truce talks in Cairo

Tribal clashes kill dozens of people in troubled Darfur

Dubai real estate giant to repay debt four years ahead

Egypt hopes power cuts could ease next week

Jihadist beheading of US journalist sparks worldwide revulsion

Iran provides ‘advice’ to Kurds fighting IS jihadists in Iraq

Power cuts and petrol shortages: Life grows increasingly difficult in Libya

Suspected attack by Kurdish rebels kills one Turkish soldier

UN launches huge aid operation in northern Iraq

Israel pounds Gaza as mourners cry ‘revenge’

Outgoing first lady breaks silence on ‘falsehoods’ against Turkey President

Ex CIA boss: journalist's killing 'first IS terrorist attack against US

Scores of armed Yemen rebels boost positions in capital

Sinai jihadists punish supporters of Egypt army with decapitation

Germany ready to support Iraq Kurds in battle against ‘barbaric’ IS

Iran’s 'reformist' science minister sacked

Turkey assures Ocalan Kurdish peace process will press ahead

Hollande: international situation ‘most serious’ since 2001

Israeli minister: ‘Deif deserves to die’

German minister accuses Qatar of financing IS

US hits back at criticism of Ferguson racial unrest

Jihadists to US: stop air strikes or we will behead second reporter

Temporary Gaza ceasefire goes up in smoke

Islamic State in Syria: Not few brainwashed people but whole army

Egypt to US: Show us how you deal with unrest in Ferguson