May 3, 2012- Elections Set For September 3, Israel Receives New Submarine
It's almost official. The parties have agreed that the next Israeli elections will be held on September 4th. (note: just as I started writing this piece, it was reported by the army radio that the Shas party objects to the date). It looks like Prime Minister Netanyahu has been planning this move for a while. Otherwise, there is no real reason why there should suddenly be new elections. Yes, the coalition has some tough weather ahead, with the Tal Law replacement and the need to pass a new budget. Despite these challenges, there is no reason to think that the current government could not have made it through. Still, Netanyahu seems to have decided to strike while his public opinion polls are high; and before President Obama possibly becomes re-elected.
Of course, one of the major unknown factors remains the question of whether Foreign Minister Lieberman will be indicted, or not. The State Attorney's office has promised an answer within weeks. They have been investigating the Lieberman file for months--since the police recommended that he be indicted, and after Lieberman has had the opportunity to rebut the charges against him. This is something I can never understand. A decision like this would be made in a matter of hours in the US.
Israel received delivery of its fourth submarine today in Germany. The submarine is said to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, thus providing Israel with a second strike capability. This is Israel's fourth advanced sub. There are two more submarines in development, with delivery expected approximately every 2 years. The Germans are covering one third the cost of the subs, which are built in their shipyards..
Several cities in Gaza under Israel’s missile strikes - Palestinian radio
CAIRO, May 11. /TASS/. Israeli military aircraft keeps delivering missile strikes on several cities in Gaza, Palestinian radio station Saut Al-Aqsa reported on Tuesday.
According to the Palestinian broadcaster, coastal strip cities of Deir al-Balah and Khan Yunis are currently under the missile fire of the Israeli military, while at least three missiles were reported to explode in the city of Jabalia, in the north of Gaza.
Saut Al-Aqsa also reported that municipal facilities of the residential areas in Gaza are allegedly the prime targets of the Israeli military.
The radio station reported earlier citing its sources in the local Health Ministry that over 20 people, including nine children, were killed and 70 wounded as a result of Israel&rsquos missile attacks on Gaza.
Palestinian daily Alquds reported earlier that the violence erupted on Monday after Israeli police entered Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem and used rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades against people inside the building. Hundreds of Palestinians were reported to be injured in the following clashes with the Israeli police in East Jerusalem.
Shortly before midnight, Israel reported that Palestinian militants fired about 150 rockets into Israeli territory and dozens of them were intercepted by air defense systems. Israel launched in return missile attacks against Palestinian militants on the territory of Gaza.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced concern over the escalation in Gaza and speaking ahead of his meeting on Monday with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi he said that rocket attacks against Israel must "stop immediately."
"We're very focused on the situation in Israel, West Bank, Gaza, very deeply concerned about the rocket attacks that we're seeing now, that they need to stop, they need to stop immediately," Blinken stated.
The parliamentary elections will be held on May 22, followed by a presidential vote on July 31. The, the voters would go to the polls once again on August 31 to elect the National Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents Palestinians internationally.
Palestine last held a presidential election in 2005 and the previous parliamentary election was in January 2006. Elections were planned several times in recent years, but no presidential decree was ever signed.
Coronavirus in Gaza: Trying to avert disaster
How Political Recalls Work
No, it isn't just your imagination. The steady stream of news reports and protests that have dominated the airwaves lately makes it clear that Americans have recall fever. Consider this: In 2011 and 2012, there were 11 recall elections for state legislators, mostly in Wisconsin. To give you some perspective, there have only been 36 recall elections for state legislators total since the first was held in 1913 [source: NCSL]. In 2010, 57 mayors across America faced recall elections -- more than twice the amount of mayoral recalls in 2009 [source: Holeywell].
Recalls have become a popular tool of grassroots activism in an age of extreme political divisiveness. The message is clear: if you don't like the mayor, the governor or the chairman of the local school board, you don't have to wait for the next election. Kick the bums out!
A political recall is the process by which a public official is removed from office before his or her term is over. The recall process is designed to provide a check on the sovereign power of elected officials. If officials fail to represent the will of their constituency, then the voters have the power to take back their vote through a recall election.
Citizens can't recall federally elected officials like members of the U.S. Congress or the President. But at least 29 states have rules on the books for the recall of elected local officials like mayors, school board members and county commissioners, and 19 states allow for the recall of state elected officials like state legislators and governors [source: National Conference of State Legislators].
Every state that allows recalls has its own set of rules governing the recall process. Before a politician can be yanked from office, there are petitions to be signed, signatures to be certified and special elections to be organized. But before we get into the nitty-gritty details of the recall process, let's take a look at the colorful history of political recalls in the United States.
History of Political Recalls
Until recently, recalls were a rarely used political weapon. In fact, the very first recall election wasn't held until 1904, when voters recalled Los Angeles city councilman James Davenport over his unpopular support of a slaughterhouse within city limits [source: Holeywell]. Since that first recall, states have slowly added provisions to their constitutions allowing for the recall of local, municipal and sometimes state elected official. The most recent states to legalize recalls were New Jersey in 1993 and Minnesota in 1996.
Of the roughly 5,000 recall elections held in the past century, the overwhelming majority have targeted local officials, and only half of those recalls have resulted in the person's replacement or removal from office [source: Nichols]. Many more recall petitions have been filed over the years, but failed to collect enough signatures to trigger an actual election. Only two governors have ever been successfully recalled, the most recent being California Governor Gray Davis in 2003. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker narrowly avoided becoming the third by surviving a tough recall election on June 5, 2012.
The Founding Fathers debated the inclusion of a federal recall provision in the Constitution, but ultimately decided against it. Instead, members of Congress can be removed by expulsion, a formal vote in which two-thirds of the Senate or House of Representatives agrees to give the legislator the boot. Only 20 Congressmen have been expelled by their legislative colleagues, and 17 of those occurred during the Civil War over accusations of "disloyalty to the Union" [source: Maskell].
Impeachment is a legal process -- not a legislative or political one -- in which a president, vice president or governor is removed from office. The House of Representatives brings the charges, or indictment, against the official and the Senate acts as the jury in the trial, requiring a two-thirds majority for conviction. President Bill Clinton, for example, was impeached by the House, but acquitted by the Senate, and therefore remained in office.
The last few years, especially 2011 and 2012, have brought an explosion of recalls, particularly on the state level. Nine out of the 10 legislative recall elections in 2011 were held in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker clashed with unions over a controversial bill that would shrink the collective bargaining rights and benefits of state employees [source: The New York Times]. Many Wisconsin voters were enraged at Republican leadership for backing the bill, but some reserved their ire for some Democratic legislators who fled the state to delay a vote. Ultimately, six Republican state senators and three Democrats faced recall elections in 2011, but only two senators -- both Republicans -- lost their seats. Governor Walker himself and four other Wisconsin legislators faced recalls in 2012.
Next we'll look at how political recalls are launched and outline the process for unseating an elected official.
Each state writes its own recall rules, but there are generally four steps to political recalls:
- Apply for permission to circulate a recall petition.
- Gather the required number of signatures within the time limit.
- Have signatures verified and approved by state election officials.
- Hold the recall election [source: National Conference of State Legislators].
In the first step, an individual or group applies for permission to circulate a recall petition. Only eight states require specific grounds for a recall, like neglect of duty, misuse of office, or criminal conviction [source: National Conference of State Legislators]. In most states, the grounds for a recall can be strictly political in nature. In Wisconsin, voters disagreed with the governor's position on unions and collective bargaining. In the small town of Johnstown, Colo., residents disagreed with the mayor's plan to change the downtown street parking from diagonal to parallel [source: Cochran].
If state election officials approve the application, then the recall organizers must collect a lot of signatures in a short amount of time. Again, each state has its own rules, but most of the signature requirements are based on recent voter turnout. In Wisconsin, for example, recall supporters must collect 25 percent of the total number of people who voted in the last election for that office. And they must do it in 60 days or less [source: Tate]. One of the reasons that recalls are most often used on the local level is that local elections have a much lower voter turnout, requiring a relatively small number of signatures to trigger a recall.
Once the petitions are submitted, state election officials must verify each and every signature. In Wisconsin, the state's Government Accountability Board (GAB) processed over 300,000 petition pages for the 2012 recall elections of the governor and four state legislators [source: GAB]. Each page was reviewed by two separate people and names were struck for illegible addresses, double entries and other problems. In the end, the GAB approved over 900,000 signatures for the recall petition against Governor Scott Walker, many more than the 540,208 required [source: The New York Times].
With the signatures approved, state officials schedule a recall election. Again, each state handles its recalls differently. Some states hold a simultaneous recall, in which voters answer two questions: 1) Do you think the official should be recalled and 2) Who do you want to replace that official? If the majority of voters answer "yes" to the recall question, then the person who receives the most votes on the second question is the winner. In other states, the approval of the recall petition triggers a special recall election in which the recalled official runs against a single opponent. If more than one person wants to run, then a primary must be held. In four states, if a majority of voters say "yes" to a recall, then the official's post is rendered vacant or is filled by a temporary replacement until the next scheduled election [source: National Conference of State Legislators].
With the rash of recall elections recently, an important question remains: Do political recalls even work? We'll tackle that question on the next page.
Supporters of political recalls say that average citizens need to be able to check the power of elected officials. The sentiment is very much in line with the Tea Party movement or Occupy Wall Street -- grassroots efforts by average Americans who are passionate about promoting their political agenda. But critics decry the recent explosion of recalls as a symptom of our toxic political environment. Are modern recalls designed to unseat incompetent officials or are they only used to wage a costly nuisance campaign? It depends on whom you ask.
A 2011 issue of U.S. News and World Report asked two men to offer their opinions on the effectiveness of political recalls: Tom Cochran, the CEO of the United States Conference of Mayors and Mike Tate, the Chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party and a long-time political activist.
Cochran, who is disappointed in the high number of recall attempts against American mayors, believes that many modern recalls are frivolous and fueled by political anger, not real issues. He argues that the high cost of recall elections -- hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars -- cannot be justified in an age of economic austerity [source: Cochran]. Democratic Party Chairman Tate agrees that recalls shouldn't be used lightly, but counters that recalls such as the one in Wisconsin are absolutely necessary to check the power of elected officials who are pursuing what he calls a "radical agenda" [source: Tate]
Officials who have been the unsuccessful targets of recall attempts argue that recalls distract public officials from their real work and force them into constant "campaign mode," defending their record, raising money for court challenges and fighting negative attack ads [source: Holeywell]. In preparation for his recall election, Governor Walker of Wisconsin raised over $12 million in 2011 and another $13.1 million in the first four months of 2012 [source: Associated Press]. One thing is for sure, if you want to derail, or at least distract from the agenda of an elected official, a recall campaign is a great way to do it [source: Holeywell].
For lots more information on political controversies and election law, explore the links on the next page.
This article couldn't have been timelier. As I'm writing it, Democratic candidates in Wisconsin are preparing for a primary contest to see who will run against Governor Scott Walker in his recall election. All eyes are on Wisconsin, as many see the Governor's recall attempt as a bellwether for the upcoming presidential election. Walker came to power with strong backing from the Tea Party, but an entirely different group of grassroots activists are now trying to wrest him and his legislative supporters from power. It's a fascinating period in American politics one in which the traditional means of governance -- elected officials acting indirectly for the will of the people -- is shifting more toward direct political intervention. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? We'll have to answer that in a future article.
AMLO wants to transform Mexico. An election may stop him
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador won’t be on the ballot when voters go to the polls June 6 in the largest election in the nation’s history.
4:15 PM, May. 31, 2021 An earlier version of this article said that Andrés Manuel López Obrador lost the presidential elections in 2006 and 2016. He lost the elections in 2006 and 2012.
The election, which will determine control of 15 state governments and the lower house of Congress, is widely viewed as a referendum on López Obrador and his polarizing presidency.
A blunt-talking populist who presents himself as a champion of the poor — and whose critics label him a power hungry demagogue — López Obrador has an enviable 63% approval rating despite Mexico’s coronavirus-ravaged economy and unrelenting violence.
With his carefully crafted social media presence and populist politics, Nayib Bukele has become one of the most popular politicians on Earth. Now just one question remains: What does he want?
Morena, the political party he founded just seven years ago, is expected to perform well, capturing a majority of governorships and the biggest share of seats in the legislature.
But the crucial question for AMLO, as López Obrador is known, is whether Morena and its coalition of allies can maintain a supermajority in Congress. He’ll need that, along with a majority of state legislatures, in order to pass constitutional reforms key to his self-described “Fourth Transformation” — an ambitious political project to roll back the free-market economic policies of his predecessors along with the inequality and corruption that he says they spurred.
“What’s at stake is nothing less than the future of Mexico,” said Pamela Starr, a professor of international relations at USC, during a recent panel on the midterm elections. “Voters are really choosing between two competing visions of the future, between López Obrador’s ‘Fourth Transformation’ and to a certain extent a return to the policies that preceded it.”
Mexico once embraced renewable energy. Now President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is doubling down on dirty fossil fuels such as coal.
The campaign has reached a fever pitch in recent weeks, with the opposition painting López Obrador as a stubborn autocrat who mishandled the pandemic and has scared away international investors.
López Obrador has fought back — dismissing his foes as “neoliberal” elites — running afoul of Mexican election laws that prohibit sitting presidents from influencing the vote. The National Electoral Institute, a government body, has sanctioned the president, saying he illegally interfered in the voting process in 29 news conferences since the election season opened last month.
López Obrador’s latest outburst came Friday, when he lashed out at an editorial in the Economist magazine that described him as a “false messiah” and urged voters to reject his party.
“It’s propaganda,” he said. “They call on Mexicans not to vote for what we represent.”
López Obrador is often grouped with other populist leaders who have taken power globally in recent years, including President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and former President Trump.
But while he is frequently described as a leftist, AMLO’s politics defy easy categorization.
Since taking office 2½ years ago he has vastly expanded social welfare programs but also embraced government austerity with a fervor that calls to mind Britain’s Margaret Thatcher.
He has halted new wind and solar farms in favor of a nationalistic, state-centered energy policy heavily reliant on fossil fuels.
And — most troubling to his adversaries — he has targeted autonomous agencies meant to check the president’s power and has attacked other institutions, including the media, that dare to counter his own narrative about his government’s achievements. He has also drawn closer to the military, putting it in charge of a slew of tasks once reserved for civilians.
But AMLO’s critics have struggled to find political footing.
The U.S. decision to drop drug trafficking charges against Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos shines a light on Mexico’s increasingly powerful military.
López Obrador won the presidency in a landslide in his third try, in 2018, fueled by widespread anger at earlier leaders who failed to quell flagrant corruption, rising violence and entrenched economic inequality.
In this election cycle, the country’s three traditional political parties have put aside their long-standing rivalries and ideological conflicts to form a coalition to oppose Morena. But polls show the opposition coalition gaining only about a quarter of the seats in the lower house of Congress.
Much of that is thanks to López Obrador’s uncanny ability to shape popular opinion.
Every morning he speaks to the nation for two to three hours on a live broadcast from the National Palace. An amateur historian, he talks at length about how Mexico’s free-market reforms beginning in the 1980s benefited the rich and left the poor behind.
And yet his policies have failed to put a dent in poverty, which last year increased from 36% of the population to 45%, according to the national social development agency Coneval, a rise fueled by the pandemic. Violence, too, continues unabated, with about 80 candidates and politicians killed in this election cycle alone, a testament to the close links between many local governments and organized crime.
Even though polls show that Mexicans are worried about the economy, the pandemic and crime, AMLO receives high marks for “closeness to the people,” said pollster Javier Marquez. “People still think that this president understands them and their needs more than anybody else,” he said.
It is unclear whether that will translate to support for Morena.
While López Obrador has carefully crafted his own image, he has been less disciplined when it comes to developing Morena into a strong political party that stands for anything more than support for AMLO.
There has been infighting between ideologically opposed factions and complaints that the party’s candidates are chosen by fiat, and often lack popular support.
Several high-profile members have been accused of corruption, and a major rift opened this year when the party’s candidate for governor in the state of Guerrero was accused of rape and sexual assault by several women, including a Morena party member.
Feminist opposition to a Mexican gubernatorial candidate accused of rape has become a political liability for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
Carlos Bravo Regidor, a professor at CIDE, a public research center in Mexico City, said López Obrador’s lack of interest in building up the party shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“Precisely because he’s a charismatic leader who wants to have a direct link with people, he’s allergic to institutions that would mediate that relationship,” he said.
There are other factors at play in the election, including whether the pandemic, which has killed nearly half a million people here, according to official estimates, might keep voters at home.
Even before the pandemic, priests had been dying much faster than new ones were being ordained in Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, Mexico, whose youngest pastor is trying to adapt to the times.
Perhaps sensing an electoral disappointment, López Obrador has in recent months publicly attacked the two institutions that oversee elections, declaring that they “were created to prevent democracy.”
Some analysts wonder if he is preparing his supporters not to accept the results if Morena doesn’t win big.
After López Obrador’s two presidential losses, in 2006 and 2012, he refused to admit defeat and led major protests in the streets. He still embraces the identity he forged then, as an underdog fighting against a corrupt system.
“There’s a real possibility they will declare fraud,” said
Mariano Sánchez-Talanquer, a professor of international studies at the College of Mexico. “He has done it before.”
Cecilia Sanchez in The Times’ Mexico City bureau contributed to this report.
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Kate Linthicum is a foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times based in Mexico City.
The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed 16 months after Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in 1977, after intense negotiations. The main features of the treaty were mutual recognition, cessation of the state of war that had existed since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, normalization of relations and the withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. Egypt agreed to leave the Sinai Peninsula demilitarized. The agreement provided for free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal, and recognition of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways. The agreement also called for an end to Israeli military rule over the Israeli-occupied territories and the establishment of full autonomy for the Palestinian inhabitants of the territories, terms that were not implemented but which became the basis for the Oslo Accords.
The agreement notably made Egypt the first Arab state to officially recognize Israel. 
The normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt went into effect in January 1980. Ambassadors were exchanged in February. The boycott laws were repealed by Egypt's parliament the same month, and some trade began to develop, albeit less than Israel had hoped for. In March 1980 regular airline flights were inaugurated. Egypt also began supplying Israel with crude oil. 
Demilitarization of Sinai
On 18 May 1981, the President of the UN Security Council indicated that the United Nations would be unable to provide an observation force, due to the threat of a veto of the motion by the Soviet Union. As a result of the impasse, Egypt, Israel and the United States opened negotiations to set up a peacekeeping organization outside the framework of the UN. On 3 August 1981, the Protocol to the Treaty of Peace was signed, establishing the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO).  This observation force monitors both parties to ensure compliance with the treaty.
Agreed Activities Mechanism
The peace treaty includes a stipulation, called the Agreed Activities Mechanism, that allows Egypt and Israel to jointly alter the arrangements of Egyptian troops in the Sinai without having to officially review the treaty itself. Israel has allowed Egypt to deploy forces to central and eastern Sinai out of mutual security concerns, such as the presence of jihadi militant groups in these areas. These alterations are coordinated through the MFO. 
In January 2011, during widespread protests by Egyptians against their government, Israel agreed to allow Egypt to move several hundred troops into the Sinai Peninsula for the first time since the peace treaty was signed.  With Israel's agreement, Egypt moved two battalions, about 800 soldiers, into the Sharm el-Sheikh area on Sinai's southern tip, far from Israel. 
In August 2012, Israel agreed that Egypt could deploy additional forces, including attack helicopters, in the northern Sinai to combat militants who had carried out an attack on Egyptian border guards that left 16 dead.   Later that month, Egypt moved additional heavy weaponry into the demilitarized zone without Israeli approval, in violation of the peace treaty terms.   Egypt said that the deployment of these troops and weapons was in keeping with agreements reached with Israel in 2011.  Israel reportedly asked the United States to mediate this dispute.  Shortly thereafter, Egyptian defense minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reportedly assured his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, that Egypt was committed to maintaining the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel. 
In July 2013, after a number of violent incidents in the Sinai Peninsula, Israel agreed to the deployment of additional Egyptian troops. 
This treaty was received with enormous controversy across the Arab world, where it was condemned and considered a stab in the back. The sense of outrage was particularly strong amongst Palestinians, with the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, stating: "Let them sign what they like. False peace will not last".  On the other hand, the treaty led both Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin to share the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for bringing peace between the two states. However, as a result of the treaty, Egypt was suspended from the Arab League in 1979–1989,  and Sadat was assassinated on 6 October 1981 by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. 
Syrian President Hafez al-Assad severed all relations with Egypt after the signing of the peace deal, and diplomatic relations were not re-established until 2005, when Egypt once again enjoyed warm relations with Syria under the rule of Bashar al-Assad.
The peace between Egypt and Israel has lasted since the treaty went into effect, and Egypt has become an important strategic partner of Israel. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former Israeli defense minister known for his close ties to Egyptian officials, has stated that "Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region, the co-operation between us goes beyond the strategic." 
As part of the agreement, the U.S. began economic and military aid to Egypt, and political backing for its subsequent governments. From the Camp David peace accords in 1978 until 2000, the United States has subsidized Egypt's armed forces with over $38 billion worth of aid. Egypt receives about $1.3 billion annually. 
Nevertheless, the peace is often described as a "cold peace",  with many in Egypt skeptical about its effectiveness.   The Arab-Israeli conflict has kept relations cool. 
The Egyptian revolution of 2011 led to fears in Israel about the future of the treaty,  although the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he expected any new Egyptian government to keep the peace treaty with Israel, as it has served both countries well.  After the Egyptian Army took power on 11 February 2011, it announced that Egypt would continue to abide by all its international and regional treaties.  However, Ayman Nour, an influential Egyptian opposition figure and likely presidential candidate called for Cairo's peace treaty with Israel to be "reassessed".  On 15 September 2011, the then Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf said that "A peace deal with Israel was not sacred".  Rashad al-Bayumi, the deputy chief of Egypt's largest party, the Muslim Brotherhood, said that they would not recognize Israel and that the treaty could be put to a referendum, emphasizing that while they respected all of their international agreements, they "had the right to review the peace deal" and that the Egyptian people "have yet to speak their mind". Representatives of the group had told U.S. diplomats that they did not intend to revoke the treaty. 
Addressing Israeli concerns on 31 July 2014, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pledged to continue the peace with Israel. 
First budgeted in July 1989 and ordered in January 1990, by November the order was cancelled due to budget reallocation aimed at countering Iraqi threats made against Israel following the Iraqi invasion and annexation of neighboring Kuwait during leadup to the 1991 Gulf War. Funding for first two boats (Dolphin and Leviathan) was fully subsidized by the German government to restart the construction program and the third (Tekumah) received a 50% subsidy. During the first Gulf War, it was revealed that German firms had assisted Iraq with modernizing its ballistic missile and chemical weapon programs, thanks in part to lax enforcement by German customs, in violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime protocols which West Germany had in 1987 acceded to.  These enhanced missiles brought Israeli cities into Iraqi targeting range for the first time and included supplies and factories for modern weaponized mustard and nerve gas.   Though not a belligerent in the Gulf War, Israeli cities were nevertheless bombarded with these upgraded Iraqi missiles.   To compensate Israel for war related damage and economic losses   and keep German shipyards occupied with a high profile project in the post Cold War defense spending downturn,   then Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl approved an assistance package to German industry including the construction of two Dolphin-class submarines.  
The names Dolphin and Leviathan hail from the retired Israeli WWII-era submarines of the British T class the third boat Tekuma (translation: Revival) refers in memory of Dakar, the third Israeli boat of the T class which was lost in 1968 with all Israeli crew in the Mediterranean Sea during delivery. The names of the newer boats Tanin and Rahav are taken from retired Gal-class submarines, which were themselves named after even older Israeli S-class submarines. 
Additional procurement Edit
In 2006 Israel signed a contract with ThyssenKrupp to purchase two additional submarines from its HDW subsidiary.  The two new boats are an upgraded version displacing 28% heavier than the older Dolphins, featuring an air-independent propulsion system, similar to the one used on German Type 212 submarines.  On 6 July 2006, the Government of Germany decided to finance an advance to start the construction, about €170 million, planned for delivery in 2012.  The two submarines cost, overall, around €1.3 billion, of up to one-third was subsidized by Germany.  In 2010, both Israel and Germany denied having talks regarding the potential purchase of a sixth submarine.  Yet in 2011, Israel ordered a sixth Dolphin-class submarine, for which it was reported to pay the unsubsidized cost of US$1 billion.  However, in July 2011, during a meeting between German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense minister Ehud Barak, an agreement was reached to subsidize €135 million of the US$500–700 million cost of the sixth submarine.  
In 2016, it was revealed that a new sonar developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems had begun to be fitted on all Dolphin submarines in the last two years. The new capabilities provided to the Dolphin submarines by the Israeli sonar also include detection of vessels with a low noise signature. The algorithms used in the sonar systems enable it to ignore many of the noises that can disrupt the range of the systems' activity, while detecting very distant noises. 
In late 2016 reports emerged of negotiations for the purchase of three additional ThyssenKrupp built submarines.  The former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who opposed the acquisition during his tenure, called for the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to investigate the negotiations which included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal attorney David Shimron for work while on retainer to the offices of Miki Ganor which represents ThyssenKrupp in Israel.   As of 23 November 2016 A.G. Mandelblit has decided to ask the state prosecutor to move forward with an investigation into the case. 
In October 2017, Israel and Germany confirmed that they have finalised a memorandum of understanding covering the Israeli Navy's purchase of three more Dolphin-class submarines to be delivered starting in 2027. These boats will replace the first three of the class which by then will be about 30 years old. Germany will pay about a third of purchase costs. 
Each submarine is fitted with 6 × 533 mm (21.0 in) torpedo tubes, and 4 × 650 mm (26 in) torpedo tubes.  The very large 650 mm tubes can be used for laying mines, larger submarine-launched cruise missiles, or swimmer delivery vehicles, and with liners the tubes could be used for standard torpedoes and submarine-launched missiles.  The boats were first armed with Atlas Elektronik DM2A3 torpedoes using wire-guided active homing to deliver a 260 kg (570 lb) warhead at a maximum speed of 40 knots (74 km/h 46 mph) to a target over 13 km (8.1 mi) away, in passive homing mode a speed of 22 knots (41 km/h 25 mph) and a range up to 28 km (17 mi) is possible. Israel has also procured the more advanced DM2A4 torpedo, successor to their DM2A3s, which are electrically propelled, equipped with fiber optic communications and has countermeasure resistant signals processing and mission logic.  A wet and dry compartment is installed for deploying underwater special operations teams.   
Jane's Defence Weekly reports that the Dolphin-class submarines are believed to be nuclear armed, offering Israel a sea-based, second strike capability.   In adherence to Missile Technology Control Regime rules  the US Clinton administration rejected an Israeli request in 2000 to purchase Tomahawk long range SLCMs. The U.S. Navy has deployed nuclear armed and conventional Tomahawk missiles for its submarine fleet which are launched from standard heavy 533 mm torpedo tubes.  The Federation of American Scientists and GlobalSecurity.org report that the four larger torpedo tubes are capable of launching Israeli built nuclear-armed Popeye Turbo cruise missiles (a variant of the Popeye standoff missile), and the U.S. Navy recorded an Israeli submarine-launched cruise missile test in the Indian Ocean ranging 1,500 km (930 mi).   
The Dolphin class uses the ISUS 90-1 TCS weapon control system supplied by STN Atlas Elektronik, for automatic sensor management, fire control, navigation, and operations. The installed radar warning receiver is a 4CH(V)2 Timnex electronic support measures system, scanning from 5 GHz to 20 GHz frequency bands and able to pinpoint radar sites with accuracy between 5 and 10 degrees of angle (depending on frequency).  The surface search radar is an Elta unit operating on I band. The sonar suite includes the advanced Atlas Elektronik CSU 90 hull-mounted passive and active search and attack sonar. The PRS-3 passive ranging sonar is also supplied by Atlas Elektronik, the flank array is a FAS-3 passive search sonar. A notable design feature is the prismatic hull cross-section and smoothly faired transitions from the hull to the sail, improving the boat's stealth characteristics. The ship and internal features are constructed of nonmagnetic materials, significantly reducing the chances of it being detected by magnetometers or setting off magnetic naval mines. The submarines have two Kollmorgen periscopes.  The Dolphins can mount an external special forces hangar aft of their sail. 
The Dolphins are equipped with three V-16 396 SE 84 diesel engines  built by MTU Friedrichshafen (now Tognum), developing 3.12 MW (4,180 hp) sustained power. The submarines are equipped with three Siemens 750 kW alternators, and a Siemens 2.85 MW sustained-power motor driving a single shaft. The propulsion system provides a speed of 20 knots (37 km/h 23 mph) submerged and a snorkeling speed of 11 knots (20 km/h 13 mph). The hull is rated for dives up to 350 m (1,150 ft). The maximum unrefuelled range is 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km 9,200 mi) traveling on the surface at 8 knots (15 km/h 9.2 mph) and over 400 nautical miles (740 km 460 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h 9.2 mph) submerged they are designed to remain unsupplied for up to 30 days on station. 
According to news reports the submarines are normally based in the Mediterranean,  although one Dolphin class was sent to the Red Sea for exercises, briefly docking at the naval base of Eilat in June 2009, which Israeli media interpreted as a warning to Iran.  In 2009 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, quoting an Israeli defence official, reported that the very small Eilat naval station is unsuited strategically to base the Dolphin-class boats, specifically noting the tight entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba at the Straits of Tiran as one held by potential adversaries including Saudi Arabia on the east and the demilitarized Egyptian Sinai to the west. Eilat is a 10 km (6.2 mi) strip of coast between Egypt and Jordan. According to The London Sunday Times, the Israeli Navy decided in May 2010 to keep at least one submarine equipped with nuclear-tipped SLCM there permanently as a deterrent in response to rumored ballistic missiles moved from Syria to Lebanon. 
If the boats are based at the larger Haifa naval base, access to the Persian Gulf area either requires openly sailing on the surface through the Egyptian controlled Suez Canal as permitted in the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty or a long voyage sailing around Africa. According to the Convention of Constantinople signed by the ruling great powers of the time including the UK, France, and the Ottoman Empire on March 2, 1888 "The Suez Maritime Canal shall always be free and open, in time of war as in time of peace, to every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag."  Denied crossing at the Suez Canal and blockade of the Straits of Tiran occurred in both in 1956 and 1967 leading to Israel twice seizing the Sinai to break the blockade.  The Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty allows for the free passage of Israeli vessels through the Suez Canal, and recognizes the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways. Even if a Red Sea or Indian Ocean base is unavailable other nations have used submarine tenders, ships that resupply, rearm, and refuel submarines at sea, when nearby friendly bases are unavailable.
According to two contradictory Sudanese media reports, in November or December 2011 two Israeli air raids against Gaza-bound weapon smugglers in Sudan were accompanied by Israeli submarine activity off the Sudanese coast.   The Sudanese government claims no strikes took place.
In February 2012, Ynet, the online version of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, reported that for security reasons applicants for the submarine service with dual citizenship or citizenship in addition to Israeli, which is common in Israel with a relatively high percentage of olim (immigrants), must officially renounce all other citizenships to be accepted into the training program. 
Israel National News and the Jerusalem Post both had articles on Sunday, July 14, 2013, which quote that day's London Sunday Times saying that the July 5 Israeli missile strike against the Syrian port of Latakia, previously reported by CNN as an Israel Air Force strike, was made in coordination with the United States, and long range missiles were launched from a Dolphin-class submarine. The attack targeted newly unloaded Russian-made Yakhont long range high performance anti-ship missiles and associated radars.   
In December, 2020, an IDF submarine transited the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, en route to the Persian Gulf in possible preparation for any Iranian retaliation over the November assassination of a senior Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. 
Thomas Massie was born in Huntington, West Virginia.  He grew up in Vanceburg, Kentucky.  He met his wife Rhonda at Lewis County High School in Vanceburg.   His father was a beer distributor. 
Massie earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  He participated in the MIT Solar Car Club, which took second place behind a Swiss team in the Solar and Electric 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway in 1991. At the time, the team set several world records including a lap speed in excess of 62 mph (99 km/h), and straight-away speeds in excess of 70 mph (112 km/h). 
In 1992, Massie won MIT's then-named 2.70 ("Introduction to Design and Manufacturing", now named 2.007) Design Competition.  MIT professor Woodie Flowers, who pioneered the 2.70 contest, mentioned that Massie watched this contest on television in seventh grade and wanted to come to MIT to win it. 
In 1993, at MIT, Massie and his wife started a company called SensAble Devices Inc.  He completed his bachelor's degree the same year and wrote his thesis, Design of a three-degree of Freedom force-reflecting haptic interface.   In 1995 Massie won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventors  and the $10,000 David and Lindsay Morgenthaler Grand Prize in the sixth annual MIT $10K Entrepreneurial Business Plan Competition.  In 1996 his company was reincorporated as SensAble Technologies, Inc., after partner Bill Aulet joined.  It raised $32 million of venture capital, had 24 patents, and 70 other employees. 
Also in 1996, Massie completed his Master's degree (SM) with the thesis Initial haptic explorations with the phantom: virtual touch through point interaction. 
Massie sold the company, and he and his wife returned to their hometown in Lewis County.
In 2010, Massie ran for Judge Executive of Lewis County.   He won the primary election, defeating the incumbent by a large margin,  and then beat the Democratic nominee by nearly 40 points.  Massie also campaigned for then-U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul, speaking to various Tea Party groups on his behalf. 
Massie resigned as Lewis County Judge-Executive effective July 1, 2012. 
In December 2011, Congressman Geoff Davis announced his decision to retire from his seat in Kentucky's 4th congressional district. Massie announced his candidacy on January 10, 2012.  He was endorsed by Senator Paul   and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.   He was also endorsed by FreedomWorks,  Club for Growth,   Gun Owners of America,  and Young Americans for Liberty. 
On May 22, 2012, Massie won the Republican nomination, beating his closest opponents, State Representative Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge Executive Gary Moore, by a double-digit margin.   In his victory speech, Massie thanked "the Tea Party, the liberty movement, and grassroots Ronald Reagan Republicans".  He faced Democratic nominee Bill Adkins in the general election, and was expected to win the election by a wide margin.   Massie resigned as Lewis County Judge-Executive effective July 1, 2012, to focus on his campaign for Congress and allow an election to be immediately held in order to replace him.  He was succeeded by Deputy Lewis County Judge-Executive John Patrick Collins, who was appointed temporarily by Governor Steve Beshear.  On July 31, 2012, Congressman Geoff Davis resigned from office, citing a family health issue for his abrupt departure.  On August 1, 2012, the Republican Party committee for Kentucky's 4th Congressional district voted unanimously to endorse Massie as the party's nominee once a special election was called.  Beshear called a special election to take place on the same day as the general election, November 6.  This meant that Massie was running in two separate elections on the same day – one for the right to serve the final two months of Davis's fourth term, another for a full two-year term. 
On November 6, Massie won both elections by a wide margin. 
Massie was sworn into office to serve out the balance of Davis's term on November 13, 2012.  He served on three committees, including the committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Oversight and Government Reform and Science, Space and Technology.  He became Chairman of the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, replacing outgoing Chairman Ben Quayle. 
Massie broke from the majority of his party by opposing the reelection of Speaker of the House John Boehner, instead casting his vote for Justin Amash of Michigan.  In May 2013, he voted against the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which passed 390–3.  In December 2013, he was the only congressman to vote against the Undetectable Firearms Act. 
In March 2014, Massie voted against a bill to name Israel an American strategic partner. Massie voted no because the bill would have subsidized green energy companies in Israel. He said he would not support subsidies for American green energy companies, let alone foreign ones.  The bill passed by a margin of 410–1. 
In May 2014, Massie objected to a voice vote to award golf star Jack Nicklaus a gold medal recognizing his "service to the nation", and demanded a roll call vote.  The vote passed easily, 371–10.  Through mid-June 2014, Massie had voted "no" at least 324 times in the 113th Congress – opposing one of every three measures that came to the House floor. Politico named him "Mr. No". 
In 2015, Massie was the sole member of the House to vote "present" on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of Iran's nuclear agreement, citing constitutional concerns that the treaties are not ratified by the House of Representatives and that he had no authority to vote for or against the nuclear deal.   In November 2016, he voted against an extension of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the only member of the House to do so. 
In 2017, Massie introduced a one-page bill that would abolish the United States Department of Education,  and cosponsored a bill that would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. 
In April 2017, Massie expressed skepticism over the role of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in the 2017 Khan Shaykhun chemical attack. 
On May 4, 2017, Massie was the sole House member to vote against sanctions on North Korea. 
In July 2017, Massie joined Representatives Amash and John Duncan Jr., and Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders in opposing a bill to impose new economic sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. President Donald Trump opposed the bill, arguing that relations with Russia were already "at an all-time and dangerous low". He did, however, sign the bill. 
On December 29, 2017, Massie voted for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Before voting, he said he would support the bill to cut taxes, but that he would oppose "new government spending," despite the $1.5 trillion estimated to be added to the national debt according to the Congressional Budget Office in wake of the bill being passed.  
As of January 2019, Massie was ranked number 1 in Conservative Review Top 25 Conservatives list. 
On March 26, 2019, Massie was one of 14 Republicans to vote with all House Democrats to override Trump's veto of a measure unwinding Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. 
In 2019, Massie signed a letter to Trump led by Representative Ro Khanna and Senator Rand Paul asserting that it was "long past time to rein in the use of force that goes beyond congressional authorization" and that they hoped this would "serve as a model for ending hostilities in the future – in particular, as you and your administration seek a political solution to our involvement in Afghanistan."   Massie was also one of nine lawmakers to sign a letter to Trump requesting a meeting with him and urging him to sign "Senate Joint Resolution 7, which invokes the War Powers Act of 1973 to end unauthorized US military participation in the Saudi-led coalition's armed conflict against Yemen's Houthi forces, initiated in 2015 by the Obama administration". They asserted that the "Saudi-led coalition's imposition of an air-land-and-sea blockade as part of its war against Yemen's Houthis has continued to prevent the unimpeded distribution of these vital commodities, contributing to the suffering and death of vast numbers of civilians throughout the country" and that Trump's approval of the resolution through his signing would give a "powerful signal to the Saudi-led coalition to bring the four-year-old war to a close". 
On April 10, 2019, Massie got in a tense exchange with former United States Secretary of State John Kerry during Kerry's testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee when Massie called Kerry's political science degree from Yale University a "pseudoscience degree" and called Kerry's position on climate change "pseudoscience." Kerry responded, "Are you serious? I mean this is really a serious happening here?"  [a]
In July 2019, Massie was the only Republican among 17 members of Congress to vote against a House resolution opposing efforts to boycott Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.  
On November 20, 2019, Massie was the sole "no" vote in Congress on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which he called an "escalation" with the People's Republic of China.   
COVID-19 pandemic response Edit
On March 27, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Massie forced the return to Washington of members of the House who were sheltering in place in their districts by threatening a quorum call that would have required an in-person vote on the $2.2 trillion aid package that had passed the Senate by a 96–0 vote.  On the House floor, Massie said he was trying to "make sure our republic doesn't die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber." His actions caused widespread concern about endangering members of Congress by requiring them to gather amid a pandemic.   
Following Massie's unsuccessful push, Trump said Massie should be removed from the Republican Party, calling him a "third rate [g]randstander" John Kerry quipped that he "tested positive for being an asshole" Representative Sean Patrick Maloney tweeted, "@RepThomasMassie is indeed a dumbass" Representative Dean Phillips called his actions a "principled but terribly misguided stunt". Some Republicans defended Massie: Paul Gosar called him a "good man and a solid conservative" and Chip Roy said Massie was "defending the Constitution today by requiring a quorum". 
In an interview with Politico, Massie said that "the fact that they brought all of these congressmen here in order to get a quorum shows you that I was right. The Constitution requires a quorum to pass a bill, and they were planning to subvert the Constitution". 
On April 23, 2020, Massie was one of five House members to vote against the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which added $320 billion of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.   Trump signed the bill into law the next day. 
In July 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Massie argued against face mask mandates and compulsory vaccinations. 
Committee assignments Edit
Caucus memberships Edit
Massie rejects the scientific consensus on climate change.  He has said, "there's a conflict of interest for some of the people doing the research. I think some people are trying to integrate backwards, starting with the answer and working the other way. I think the jury is still out on the contribution of our activities to the change in the earth's climate".  In 2013, he implied that cold weather undercut the argument for climate change, tweeting, "Today's Science Committee Hearing on Global Warming canceled due to snow".  During a 2019 House Oversight Committee hearing on the impact of climate change, Massie suggested that concerns over rising carbon dioxide levels were exaggerated, and asked Kerry why carbon dioxide levels millions of years ago were higher despite humans' absence.   CNN and The Washington Post described Massie's exchange with Kerry as "surreal" and "bizarre".  
Massie supports dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency.  He voted to block the Department of Defense from spending on climate adaptation.  He voted to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, which imposed stricter requirements on coal mining to prevent coal debris from getting into waterways. 
In 2018, after French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Congress and mentioned his desire that the United States rejoin the Paris Climate Accords to curb climate change, Massie said Macron was "a socialist militarist globalist science-alarmist. The dark future of the American Democratic Party". 
Foreign policy Edit
A non-interventionist,  Massie has supported various efforts to scale back the use of the U.S. military abroad. He supported legislation in 2019 to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001, arguing that it is too broad and that Congress should reclaim its constitutional right to declare war.  He also supported efforts to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan,   and introduced a bill in 2019 to clarify that no authority exists for military action against Iran.  Massie introduced legislation to stop unauthorized military operations in Egypt and Syria,  as well as legislation blocking unauthorized military aid from being sent to Syrian rebels. 
Massie voted "present" on the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the only member of the House to do so and the only Republican not to vote against it.  Massie was the only member of the House to vote against extending sanctions on Iran in 2016.  He was also one of only three House members to vote against a 2017 bill to impose new sanctions on Iran, Russia, and North Korea. 
In 2019, Massie was the only Republican House member to vote against condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.  Among other reasons that he cited for voting against the resolution, Massie stated that he does not support "federal efforts to condemn any type of private boycott, regardless of whether or not a boycott is based upon bad motives" and that "these are matters that Congress should properly leave to the States and to the people to decide". 
In 2021, Massie was one of 14 House Republicans to vote against a measure condemning the Myanmar coup d'état that overwhelmingly passed, for reasons reported to be unclear. 
In June 2021, Massie was one of forty-nine House Republicans who voted in favor of the repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.  
Government surveillance Edit
Massie is a critic of the PATRIOT Act and warrantless surveillance of Americans.   In 2014 he sponsored an amendment to stop warrantless "backdoor" searches of U.S. citizens' online data it passed the House 293–123.   The amendment also contained a provision prohibiting the NSA or CIA from requesting companies to install surveillance backdoors in their products. 
In 2015 Massie introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act, a bill that sought to repeal the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act.   Also in 2015, he joined with Representative Justin Amash in an effort to ensure the expiration of certain provisions of the PATRIOT Act. 
Massie has called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be pardoned  and for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to be prosecuted for lying about the phone metadata program that Snowden exposed. 
Food regulation Edit
In 2014 Massie introduced the Milk Freedom Act and the Interstate Milk Freedom Act, a pair of bills that would allow the transportation of raw milk across state borders.   Massie explained: "It's legal to drink raw milk in 50 states. It is legal to sell raw milk in 28 states. The Feds need to quit arresting farmers for taking raw milk from one raw milk state to another raw milk state". 
In 2015 Massie introduced the Processing Revival and Intrastate Meat Exemption (PRIME) Act to ease federal regulations regarding the sale of meat within state borders.   Massie says that under current federal regulations "farmers and ranchers are increasingly forced to ship their animals to far-off slaughterhouses for processing" which "presents financial burdens, threatens the quality of meat sold, and ultimately makes it difficult for consumers to purchase fresh, local meat". 
Criminal justice reform Edit
In 2013 Massie introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act to provide judges with greater sentencing flexibility.  He stated: "The one size fits all approach of federally mandated minimums does not give local judges the latitude they need to ensure that punishments fit the crimes. As a result, nonviolent offenders are sometimes given excessive sentences. Furthermore, public safety can be compromised because violent offenders are released from our nation's overcrowded prisons to make room for nonviolent offenders." 
Massie has criticized civil asset forfeiture laws, calling them "legal robbery" and "completely unconstitutional".  In 2019 he helped introduce the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration Act to reform federal asset forfeiture policies. 
Human rights Edit
In November 2019, Massie was the sole member of the United States Congress to vote against the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act  and in December 2019 was the sole member of the House of Representatives to vote against a condemnation of the treatment of Uyghurs in China.   Massie clarified on Twitter that his reasoning was that it is not the role of the United States to intervene in other nations' internal affairs.  Massie also cast the sole "no" vote on the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act. 
Massie opposes the death penalty, and voted against a bill to expand the list of federal capital crimes to include the murder of first-responders. 
On February 26, 2020, Massie voted against making lynching a federal hate crime. 
Government transparency Edit
In 2014, Massie joined Representatives Walter B. Jones and Stephen Lynch at a press conference to call for release of the 28 redacted pages of the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.  In 2016 Massie joined both representatives in writing to President Obama urging him to declassify the pages. 
In 2015, Massie introduced the Federal Reserve Transparency Act to "require the Comptroller General to conduct a full examination of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve banks".  Said Massie: "It is time to force the Federal Reserve to operate by the same standards of transparency and accountability to the taxpayers that we should demand of all government agencies." 
Health care Edit
Massie supports repealing the Affordable Care Act.  In 2017, he criticized the Republican-led efforts to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, saying the efforts fell "far short of our promise to repeal Obamacare". 
Massie does not support compulsory vaccination. He stated on Twitter, "There is no authority in the Constitution that authorizes the government to stick a needle in you." 
Massie has supported efforts to legalize industrial hemp cultivation,   introducing the Industrial Hemp Farming Act in 2013   as well as hemp-related amendments in 2013,  2014,  and 2015  that were approved by the House. In 2013 he testified before the Kentucky Senate regarding the matter. 
Massie has stated that medical cannabis patients should be able to legally purchase firearms and that he would introduce legislation allowing them to do so.  Massie has endorsed legislation in Kentucky to legalize the medical use of cannabis. 
In October 2019, Massie criticized the jail sentence for Maria Butina, a Russian citizen who pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent in the United States. Butina had sought to infiltrate the National Rifle Association in order to influence a more favorable U.S. foreign policy towards Russia. Massie described her jail sentence as Russophobia. In August 2019, Massie said that former FBI Director James Comey should be put in prison instead of Butina.  
In September 2020, on the topic of the Kyle Rittenhouse incident following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Massie said he believed Rittenhouse had acted in self-defense.  
Massie describes himself as a constitutional conservative. He believes in intellectual property and thinks it is necessary for incentivizing innovation. Massie has remarked that this is one of the areas where he is not a libertarian. 
Massie is a part of a small group of Republicans that voted against a House resolution reaffirming commitment to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power in the United States under democratic principles.   However, he was also one of seven Republicans who did not support their colleagues' efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election on January 6, 2021 these seven signed a letter that, while giving credence to election fraud allegations made by President Donald Trump, said Congress did not have the authority to influence the election's outcome. 
In June 2021, Massie was one of 21 House Republicans to vote against a resolution to give the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on January 6.  Also in June 2021, he was one of 14 House Republicans to vote against legislation to establish June 19, or Juneteenth, as a federal holiday. 
|Republican||Thomas Massie (incumbent)||256,613||67.1|
Massie operates a cattle farm in Garrison, Kentucky, with his wife, Rhonda, and their four children.   They live in a solar-powered home that Massie built himself.   He is a Methodist. 
Gantz proves there is an alternative to Netanyahu
If Netanyahu really lost, he will have no one to blame but himself
Gantz said that his voters wanted hope and were given hope. "They wanted a different way and we showed it to them. We will not back down from our public duty to represent over a million people who asked us for something different. It's an unprecedented historical victory. We should be proud."
5:52 A.M. 94 percent of votes counted Likud and Kahol Lavan get 35 Knesset each
With 94 percent of the votes counted, Likud and Kahol Lavan are tied at 35 seats each, but the right-wing bloc gets 65 seats in total.
skip - Last minute election drama as Israel's Arab voter turnout plummets, sending parties scrambling for votes. Bradley Burston and Allison Kaplan Sommer explain
Ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism have eight seats each, Yisrael Beiteinu and the Union of Right-Wing Parties five, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu four.
Among center-left parties, Labor gets six seats, as does Arab-majority Hadash-Ta'al. Meretz has four seats, and United Arab List-Balad barely makes it over the 3.25-percent electoral threshold, securing four Knesset seats.
Moshe Feiglin's Zehut, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's Hayamin Hehadash and Orly Levi-Abekasis' Gesher fail to enter the Knesset.
5:18 A.M. Netanyahu and Gantz neck in neck but right-wing bloc still likelier to form government
With 93 percent of the votes counted, Likud gets 37 Knesset seats while Kahol Lavan gets 36 seats. The right-wing bloc garners altogether 67 seats, making it likelier for them to form the next coalition.
skip - Haaretz Weekly Ep. 21
Ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, both likely to back Netanyahu as next prime minister, have eight seats each.
Kahol Lavan activists cheer as exit polls pour in at the party's headquarters, Israel, April 9, 2019. Emil Salman
Labor and Arab-majority Hadash-Ta'al have six seats each, and right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu, led by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Union of Right-Wing Parties and Meretz all have five.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu gets four seats.
United Arab List-Balad is just dozens of votes short of passing the 3.25-percent electoral threshold. Moshe Feiglin's Zehut, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's Hayamin Hehadash and Orly Levi-Abekasis' Gesher also fail to enter the Knesset.
4:10 A.M. With most votes counted, Netanyahu's Likud maintains lead
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party gets 37 out of 120 Knesset seats, according to partial results in Israel's general election. With 79 percent of the votes counted, Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan is only slightly behind with 36 seats.
Ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, both likely to back Netanyahu as next prime minister, have eight and seven seats, respectively.
Right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu, led by former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as well as left-wing Labor, both have six seats.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu, Meretz, the Union of Right-Wing Parties and Arab-majority Hadash-Ta'al all have five seats.
Moshe Feiglin's Zehut, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's Hayamin Hehadash, Orly Levi-Abekasis' Gesher and United Arab List-Balad all fail to enter the Knesset.
Average of Israeli election exit polls (Ch. 11, Ch. 12 and Ch. 13) skip - Netanyahu's party placed 1,200 hidden cameras in Arab polling sites.
3:30 A.M. Results begin to emerge, 64 percent of the votes have been counted
Results of Israel's election began to emerge, with 64 percent of the votes counted. According to the votes counted thus fur, Netanyahu's Likud is in the lead with 38 Knesset seats, while Gantz's Kahol Lavan comes in second with 35 Knesset seats.
Religious party Shas is standing to gain eight seats, while United Torah Judaism receives seven. Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu gets six seats, as well as Labor Party, while Kulanu, Union of the Right-Wing Parties, Meretz and Hadash-Ta'al all receive five seats.
Moshe Feiglin's Zehut, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's Hayamin Hehadash, Orly Levi-Abekasis' Gesher and United Arab List-Balad all fail to enter the Knesset.
2:11 A.M. Netanyahu in celebratory speech: 'This is a night of great victory'
"We love you," Netanyahu told Likud supporters in a victory speech he held after exit polls showed his party has likely won the election. "23 years ago it was the first time Sara [his wife] and myself stood here, and here we return because of you and for you."
"This is a night of great victory," Netanyahu said to a standing ovation.
"I operate day and night for you, for the country, for our land," he added. "You earned an almost unfathomable feat in the face of biased media and under impossible conditions," he extolled Israelis who voted for his Likud party.
"The right-wing bloc will continue to lead Israel for the next four years," he added.
01:55 A.M. Updated exit polls show Likud overtaking Kahol Lavan by one seat
skip - Haaretz's Allison Kaplan Sommer and Omer Benjakob explain live election results
Netanyahu scolds beachgoers on Election Day: "If they stay at the beach and don't vote, they’ll wake up tomorrow with Yair Lapid as the head of a left-wing government. If you want to continue with Likud, and with me, then you need to go vote. Go to the beach after!" pic.twitter.com/VGBsOnMTXr&mdash Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) April 9, 2019
The most recent exit polls still gave advantage to the right-wing bloc, showing that it is likely to garner 63-65 Knesset seats, while the center-left bloc has 55-57 seats, with the Likud overtaking Kahol Lavan by just one seat.
Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cast their ballots, April 9, 2019.
According to both exit polls by Channel 13 News and Channel 12 News, the Likud will snag 35 Knesset seats.
Both exit polls also showed that Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's Hayamin Hehadash party did not pass the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party is going to receive four Knesset seats, the exit polls indicated, while the United Arab List-Balad, which was at risk of not making it into the Knesset, will get four to six seats as well.
The exit polls also predicted that Orly Levi-Abekasis' Gesher party as well as Moshe Feiglin's Zehut party will fail to enter the Knesset.
1:43 A.M. Turnout at 67.9 percent as polls close, down from 2015
Voter turnout stands at 67.9 percent as of 10 P.M., when polls closed — down from 72.33 percent in 2015.
1:38 A.M. 12 Takeaways from Israel's looniest election that Netanyahu just won. Or is it Gantz? | Analysis
Based on initial exit polls, both Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu can point to historic achievements in Tuesday’s election. Gantz came out of nowhere and within a few short months set up a political party that is now inches away from power. Netanyahu overcame natural fatigue from his decade in power, three criminal indictments, a looming submarine scandal and the wholesale enlistment of his rivals. Although the jury is still out, the exit polls indicate that Netanyahu is within striking distance of a fourth straight term in office, during which he will pass David Ben-Gurion on way to become Israel’s longest ruling prime minister. Read the full analysis here (Chemi Shalev)
1:04 A.M. Feiglin says disappointed: 'There will be another election'
Far-right Zehut Chairman Moshe Feiglin, dubbed potential kingmaker in Israel's election, said Tuesday he still believes he would make it into parliament, despite exit polls suggesting his party didn't pass the 3.25-percent electoral threshold.
"I believe we're in, and Zehut will be in the next Knesset," he said in a video message.
"Even if we don't make it, it won't take long until there will be another election, and we will be there," Feiglin, running for the first time as party leader, said. "We're running long distances. This is the end of a beginning, not the beginning of the end." Read full story
12:53 A.M. Shas leader Dery says 'Gantz has no way to form government'
Ultra-Orthodox Shas leader Arye Dery, predicted six to seven seats in exit polls, said Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz "has no way to form a government."
Likud supporters cheer as the exit polls pour in, Israel, April 9, 2019. Tomer Appelbaum
"The only question is whether we form a right-wing government or propose to Gantz to break up his artificial partnership with [Yesh Atid Chairman Yair] Lapid and come with us," Dery added, referring to Lapid's stances on ultra-Orthodox Jews, seen by Haredi politicians as a deal breaker in any negotiations to join a Gantz-led coalition.
12:14 A.M. Gantz hails historic day for Israel
Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz told supporters Tuesday overnight he believes he should be the next prime minister, after exit polls suggest his party is either tied or leading over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud. "This is a historic day," Gantz told party activists in Tel Aviv.
"We wish to thank Benjamin Netanyahu for his service for this country, and say that despite our many differences, we will rise above our past disagreements and grudges," Gantz said. "We will respect the voter's will — the biggest party is the one that should … form the government."
12:09 A.M. Labor chairman says disappointed with exit polls, Netanyahu must go
Labor Party Chairman Avi Gabbay told supporters he was disappointed with the exit poll results, which predicted his party receiving anywhere between six and eight Knesset seats, adding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "must go." Gabbay vowed to "spearhead the political and social struggle" against Netanyahu, facing potential charges in several corruption cases.
Gabbay also said he spoke with Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz. "I told him we will do everything" necessary to help Gantz form a government, he said.
He also pushed back at criticism from his own party over his leadership, including some calls to resign, saying he will go on leading the Labor Party.
11:41 P.M. If Netanyahu loses this election, he will have no one to blame but himself | Analysis
If the stunning — though conflicting — exit polls Tuesday night prove to reflect the actual results of the Israeli election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be hard-pressed to blame anyone but himself for the somewhat disappointing performance.
By cannibalizing votes from smaller right-wing parties in the hopes of scoring a decisive head-to-head victory against Benny Gantz, Netanyahu recklessly dismissed the possibility that several of them would disappear from the Knesset count — and from his potential government coalition. Read the full analysis here (Allison Kaplan Sommer)
Kahol Lavan activists cheer as the exit poll results pour in at the party's headquarters, Israel, April 9, 2019. Emil Salman
11:32 P.M. Labor lawmaker calls on party leader to resign
Prominent Labor MK Eitan Cabel has called on Chairman Avi Gabbay to resign, following the party's poor showing in Israel's election.
"Tonight is the most difficult night in the history of my [political] home," he said. "The Labor Party, which established this country, crashed in all exit polls and gets its worst-ever result." This failure, Cabel argues, is Gabbay's fault "and his alone."
11:32 P.M. Likud ministers say Netanyahu is next prime minister
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel says "it is clear beyond any doubt that the Likud party has regained the public's trust. The Israeli people appreciates what we do for the benefit of the country and wants Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister for four more years."
Another Likud minister, Gilad Erdan, tweeted that "according to the preliminary results, the national camp has won and the right-wing bloc will be able to form the next government." He added a Likud-led government "represents the will of the majority of the public, and not a large party that made Labor crash," referring to Gantz's Kahol Lavan.
11:25 P.M. Kahlon won't commit to backing Netanyahu as prime minister
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon told Kulanu supporters that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called him after exit polls, predicting him four to five Knesset seats. "We've agreed to meet after final results are published and not a minute sooner."
Kahlon also thanked his supporters, gathered in Tel Aviv, and vowed to "join a government that will continue serving the entire Israeli society."
"This was a tough battle," Kahlon said. "I've been in politics for 20 years and there's never been a campaign like this one."
11:10 P.M. Right, center-left blocs tied, according to updated exit poll
Israeli elections: Voter turnout
Channel 12 News published an updated exit poll, with only minor changes to its initial poll, published an hour earlier.
According to the updated exit poll, both the right-wing bloc, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party, and the center-left bloc, headed by Benny Gantz and Kahol Lavan, have 60 Knesset seats.
The updated poll predicts both Arab-majority parties Hadash-Ta'al and United Arab List-Balad will get six seats. Channel 12's initial exit poll predicted Hadash-Ta'al with seven seats and UAL-Balad with five.
10:58 P.M. Union of Right-Wing Parties responds to exit polls
The Union of Right-Wing Parties released a statement, saying: "This evening, above all, it was made clear that we saved the right-wing leadership by uniting with Otzma Yehudit."
"The Zionist religious way won out and proved that it is bigger than any one person. We expect the prime minister to declare in a non-two-faced way that he intends to form a right-wing government, and we see ourselves as senior partners in it," the statement said.
"In the coming hours we will enter into immediate negotiations in order to sum up the principles that will run this government even before we make our recommendation to the president," they added.
Bezalel Smotrich said the Union of Right-Wing Parties will recommend that Netanyahu receive immunity in the face of the criminal charges against him. "The deliberations and hearings will take a long time. Right now we are facing forward: Building a right-wing government is dependent on the immunity law that I spoke about a few weeks ago — it's necessary to build trust among all the Knesset members that we will be able to build this coalition for the whole term. I'm calling on all the right-wing parties to join and support this effort."
10:55 P.M. Avigdor Lieberman: surveys are 'psychological weapons'
Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said he is “happy this battle is over, but it is still early to summarize or produce takeaways.” He added that the gaps between parties are too large and the bigger picture too unclear to draw conclusions, and “as someone who walked around all day in the field and saw how the exit polls were conducted, there is a non-negligible gap between the exit polls and the real voting results.” In addition, he accused pollsters of “manipulation and psychological warfare,” turning the surveys into “psychological weapons of war.”
10:50 P.M. Shas to recommend Netanyahu for forming government
Shas Chairman Arye Dery has spoken with Netnayahu and told him the party will recommend to the president that Likud form the next government.
10:48 P.M. Arab party leaders respond to exit polls
United Arab List-Balad Chairman Dr. Mansour Abbas: “We are certain that we will pass the electoral threshold according to our data, the voter turnout in the Arab sector was above 50 percent. We should not forget that the exit polls ended at 8 P.M., so in the last two hours, there was a significant rise in the percentage of voters and support for the two Arab slates.”
Residents cast their votes in the northern city of Taibeh. Rami Chelouche
Dr. Mtanes Shehadeh, number two on the UAL-Balad slate, also expressed certainty that the party will enter Knesset, saying that exit polls have no true value. But, he added, “There is no doubt that after the results are in, the two [Arab] slates need to have a meeting and consider in order to win back the Arab public’s trust in the party.
Knesset Member Ayman Odeh, chairman of Hadash-Ta’al, responded by thanking his supporters - “Arab and Jewish democratic citizens, who came out to vote despite the incitement, hate and racist legislation and gave us their trust. Bibi understands this and so do we - there will not be change in this country without the political power of the Arab public.” He remains hopeful that UAL-Balad will join them in the Knesset.
10.45 P.M. Bennett, Shaked address supporters after two of three exit polls show them failing to make threshold
Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked addressed supporters after two out of three exit polls suggest their new Hayamin Hehadash party may not enter the Knesset. "We take care of the soldiers, and you'll see that the soldiers will take care of us," Bennett said, suggesting that military ballots would ensure the votes needed to pass the voter threshold. He vows that the party will enter the Knesset and urges supporters to be patient.
Shaked says she still has work to do to overhaul the justice system, "and together we will succeed in reaching the goals we wanted, even if it takes longer, we are not giving up and we are walking on a long road. I know we will succeed."
10:32 P.M. Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg responds to exit polls
Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg told followers gathered at the Tzavta theater in Tel Aviv, "I'm late because I'm coming from Kafr Qassem. I arrived there at 8 P.M., and we decided to leave everything and head there to bolster the Arab voter turnout, after the attempts at voter suppression that took place there today."
"Israeli politics has not succeeded in doing what Meretz does: Gives real hope and the message that all citizens of the country are equal," Zandberg said. "If there is one thing that is already clear – and nothing is completely clear at this point – If Israeli politics does not relate to all the citizens of the country equally, it has no hope and it has no future. The only future lies in participation, equality and justice."
Zandberg's speech was met with loud applause as Meretz flags were waved throughout the auditorium. "This was a hard election campaign I don't remember an election that was this hard. The fact that we don't know what the results will be is part of the challenge and part of the difficulty," she added.
10:25 P.M. United Torah Judaism responds to exit polls
United Torah Judaism said that Yaakov Litzman, head of the party, is currently speaking with Netanyahu. Litzman told Netanyahu that United Torah Judaism will recommend him for prime minister.
10:23 P.M. Hayamin Hehadash's Naftali Bennett responds to exit polls
Naftali Bennett, education minister and co-chair of Hayamin Hehadash, responded to the poll results: “Friends, don’t lose your spirit. Leadership is challenged in difficult moments. We have patience, faith, and nerves of steel. Hayamin Hehadash will pass [the electoral threshold], and will pass it well. We are sure that our way is just.”
He thanked supporters, and said that he and Ayelet Shaked, the justice minister and party co-chair, will meet with supporters at Hayamin Hehadash headquarters. Hayamin Hehadash only cleared the electoral threshold in one of the three exit polls.
Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz casts vote in Rosh Ha'ayin. Moti Milrod
10:21 P.M. Netanyahu claims victory
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims victory, minutes after Benny Gantz did the same. "The right-wing bloc led by Likud won a clear victory," Netanyahu writes on Twitter. "I thank the citizens of Israel for their faith. I will begin forming a right-wing party with our natural partners tonight already." (Jonathan Lis)
10:06 P.M. Gantz claims victory
Kahol Lavan co-leader Benny Gantz claims victory after the release of exit polls, which have been contradictory. "We won!" Gantz said. "The Israeli people have spoken. Thank you to the thousands of activists and over a million voters. In these elections, there is a clear winner and a clear loser. Bibi promised 40 seats and lost, big time." (Jonathan Lis)
10 P.M. Contradictory exit polls: Gantz and Netanyahu tied ■ No clear path to premiership for either ■ Follow Haaretz's live updates as drama unfolds
TV channels have released their exit polls.
Channel 12 News has the center-left and right-wing blocs with 60 seats each – a tie. The channel's exit polls also have Kahol Lavan with 37 seats to Likud's 33.
Channel 13 has the right-wing bloc with 66 seats to the center-left's 54, and Kahol Lavan and Likud with 36 seats each.
The Kan public broadcaster has the right-wing bloc with 64 seats and the center-left with 56, and Kahol Lavan with 37 seats to Likud's 36.
The fates of several smaller parties appear to be up in the air, although all three channels have Zehut failing to meet the electoral threshold. In Kan's exit polls, Gesher, United Arab List-Balad, Zehut and Hayamin Hehadash failing to make it into the Knesset. Channel 12 has Gesher, Zehut and Hayamin Hehadash failing to pass. Channel 13 has Gesher, UAL-Balad, and Zehut falling short.
9:15 P.M. Turnout at 61.3% as of 8 P.M., down from 2015
Israel election 2019: The Netanyahus voting in Jerusalem, in the morning Emil Salman
Voter turnout stands at 61.3 percent, or 3,884,636 voters, as of 8 P.M. — down from 62.4 percent in 2015.
9:05 P.M. Meretz lawmakers visit Kafr Qasem amid reports of low Arab turnout
Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg and lawmaker Esawi Freige are in Kafr Qasem following widespread reports of historically low turnout among Arab voters. "It's not over till it's over," Freige says. "I believe that the Arab citizen knows that it is his duty to go out and vote — and yes, the young people are doing it, and doing it with pride." (Noa Landau)
8:54 P.M. Meretz requests leaving polls open late over hidden cameras
Meretz has petitioned the Central Elections Committee with a request to keep polls open for an extra hour, until 11 P.M., over the use of hidden cameras at polling stations, which the party says was a deliberate attempt at suppressing the Arab vote. (Noa Landau)
8:50 P.M. Arab parties report 44% turnout among Arabs
Following widespread reports of extremely low turnout among the Arab community, the Arab parties say the turnout stands at 44 percent, an hour before polls close. (Jack Khoury)
8:40 P.M. ‘Only Likud! Only Netanyahu!’: Forget Facebook, Israelis' phones are blowing up with text messages
Israeli phones exploded with panicked text messages throughout the day as political parties used multiple forms of manipulation — from fear to guilt to anger — to get potential voters to the polls.
The focus was on the tight race between Netanyahu and his main rival Gantz.
Cameras installed by activists near Arab polling stations. Hadash Spokesperson's Office
“Every vote that doesn't go to Kahol Lavan goes to Bibi,” read a text message from Gantz’s party. “Every voter who stays home votes for Bibi! If you haven't voted yet and you want to get rid of Bibi, NOW is the time to join your friends and neighbors and vote Kahol Lavan.”
There was even some “fake news” from Likud, claiming that the Labor Party had a “deal with the Arab parties! We have to stop this disaster!” However, most Likud texts struck a tone of victimization, Trump-style, pointing an accusing finger at the media.
“364 days a year the arena is theirs. 364 days a year we’re called corrupt fascists and beasts. 364 days a year they scream and we remain silent. But today is ours. Get your friends and neighbors, and get out to vote! Only Likud! Only Netanyahu!” Read full story (Allison Kaplan Sommer)
8:30 P.M. Labor and Kahol Lavan lawmakers respond to Likud video featuring secretly taped conversation
Knesset members Amir Peretz of Labor and Ofer Shelah of Kahol Lavan responded to a Likud campaign video that implicates the two in a secretly taped conversation. In the recording, Peretz allegedly tells Shelah, “There’s an opportunity here, that the Arabs won’t shred the deal against Bibi and Likud.”
Peretz responded: “Only someone who’s about to drown clutches at straws and turns the conversation to a political deal that didn’t exist and wasn’t created.” He added, “It seems that Likud is in despair and I hope that their hopelessness will become reality later tonight.”
“The despairing Bibi is disseminating lies,” Shelah said, “boiling the scraps of secret recordings, including my conversations. There are no secret deals, there’s no conspiracy: There’s just Bibi, who knows that only through deception will he be able to seize the government. Today we’ll throw out the liar.”
8:30 P.M. Central Elections Committee says they will accept ballots that had been purposefully sabotaged
The Central Elections Committee said that ballots that had been deliberately tampered with would be counted, so as to preserve the will of the voters. The statement came after Kahol Lavan lodged a complaint that many of their party's ballots had been sabotaged by punching small holes in them with the intent of disqualifying the ballots. Head of the council, Judge Hanan Melcer, said that the decision was made after the committee received numerous complaints of ballots that had been tampered with, or printed slightly differently than the prescribed guidelines.
Melcer decided that the ballots found with small holes or intentional scribbles should be counted. The committee also decided to accept ballots that had been printed slightly differently than the accepted format.
8:20 P.M. Mosque loudspeakers used to urge voters to turn out
Amid reports of extremely low turnout among Arabs, mosque loudspeakers in the Arab cities of Tamra and Taibeh are being used to urge residents to go vote.
Hadash Chairman Ayman Odeh has posted a video on Facebook page, urging supporters to vote and saying: "This is an emergency situation. There is a real danger of a Knesset without Arabs and without the Hadash-Ta'al slate."
7:58 P.M. Meretz chief heads to Arab city to encourage voter turnout
Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg is on her way to Kafr Qasem, located in the triangle of Arab towns and villages on the border with the West Bank, to support voting efforts in the Arab sector.
7:44 P.M. NGO buses Negev Bedouin to remote polling places
Throughout the day on Tuesday, some 50 minibuses plied the roads of southern Israel’s Negev desert — part of an NGO campaign attempting to realize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s infamous 2015 Election Day threat that Israel’s Arabs were voting in droves, bused to the polls by left-wing organizations.
Focusing on Israeli Bedouin and organized by Zazim — a nongovernmental organization that defines itself as a campaigning community for social and political change — the minivans brought voters from remote, unrecognized villages to their assigned polling stations. Atiya al-Assam, head of the council of unrecognized villages, says that without the campaign, “most of our people just can’t vote.” Read the full story
7:30 P.M. Israel Police investigates complaints of voter fraud
Israel Police has opened an investigation into complaints of voter fraud across the country. According to a police statement, "The police have opened an investigation in regards to a small number of complaints of voter fraud at different polling stations around the country. In Ariel, a complaints were submitted by two voters who arrived at the polls to find that somebody had already voted in their name. Two similar complaints were submitted - one in the Jerusalem area and one in the center of the country - by voters who encountered a similar situation."
The statement said that the police have deployed thousands of officers, volunteers and border officers to polling stations around the country. "We are working together with the Election Council to preserve public order and prevent any injury to the integrity of the election or the secrecy of the vote."
7:25 P.M. Naftali Bennet pleads to voters to save his party
Education Minister and Hayamin Hehadash co-chair Naftali Bennett appeals to right-wing voters to resuscitate his party in a Facebook post. "Netanyahu is the next prime minister, easily," he wrote. the Union of Right-Wing Parties "has eight to ten seats. Ayelet [Shaked] and I are in an uneasy situation. A dangerous bar."
He continues: "A modest proposal - everyone, just the whole nationalist camp: Likud, Smotrich, Feiglin, everyone: come carry our stretcher. Vote only for Hayamin Hechadash. Ayelet and I gave you our souls for seven years. Please vote for Hayamin Hehadash so that we can continue."
7:19 P.M. Ahmad Tibi: Netanyahu and Smotrich's plan is a Knesset cleansed of Arabs
Ahmad Tibi, co-chair of the Arab Hadash-Ta'al slate, called on voters to head to the polls in a new video. "I'm calling on all of the Arabs to go out and vote," he says. "The statistics we're getting are very worrying. This is Netanyahu and [Union of Right-Wing Parties lawmaker Bezalel] Smotrich's plan, that the Knesset will be cleansed of Arabs. I am calling on everyone to go out and vote because your votes are crucial and decisive."
7:10 P.M. Almost 100,000 Labor Party members have not yet voted
In a last-minute campaign video, Avi Gabbay, head of the Israeli Labor Party, says that nearly 100,000 registered Labor members have not yet voted. “That’s close three Knesset seats,” he says, joined by a Labor activist. “That’s three amazing representatives from the Labor Party that are entering Knesset, becoming members of the change camp, and contributing to beating Netanyahu. And we can switch out Netanyahu.” He called on voters to go out and vote, saying that there are ways that the center-left bloc can still win.
7:06 P.M. Voter turnout at 52% as of 6 P.M.
Voter turnout stands at 52 percent as of 6 P.M., down from 54.6 percent in 2015.
6:50 P.M. Chairman of Hadash urges Arab voters to head to the polls
Chairman of Hadash, Ayman Odeh, urged Arab voters to head to the polls. "We are continuing in full force, going door to door and calling on people to get out and vote," he wrote on Twitter. "Our nightmare, which is the prime minister's fantasy – is a Knesset without Arab representation, and suddenly that's looking like a realistic possibility. I know that 'Gevalt' is a Yiddish word, but worrying about our children's future is universal."
6:48 P.M. Netanyahu’s tired opponents left waiting for him to make a mistake
Opposition leaders Avi Gabbay and Benny Gantz are hoping the prime minister can be ousted on Tuesday but, following them on Election Day, they seem to be pinning their hopes on right-wing parties failing to cross the electoral threshold, Anshel Pfeffer writes. Full story here.
6:20 P.M. Low turnout in Bedouin-majority city
Rahat, in southern Israel, is seen as one of the most important sources of votes for the Arab-led slates, but voter turnout at one polling station stands at less than 20 percent as of 5 P.M.
Sami Ashwi, an aide to the city's mayor, says he feels helpless. "You run into people who simply have a total lack of awareness of their situation and we feel helpless before this complacency. We have a few hours left and I hope we manage to do something," Ashwi says.
6:10 P.M. Abbas hopes Israeli vote leads to peace talks
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says "our hands remain extended in peace" on Israel's Election Day, the Associated Press reported.
Speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas says the Palestinian leadership hopes the outcome will help Israel "come to the negotiating table" and embark "on the right track to reach peace."
But Abbas stresses that Palestinians would reject peace brokered by U.S. President Trump's administration.
6:05 P.M. Activists for Arab-led slates report distress over turnout
Activists from both the main Arab tickets have been expressing concern about low voter turnout in Arab communities.
The activists reported their concern to the campaign headquarters of both tickets, Hadash-Ta’al and United Arab List-Balad. Balad Chairman Jamal Zahalka said the data attests to “a real problem at the polling stations.”
The two Arab tickets estimated turnout in Arab communities at about 25 percent as of 5 P.M., compared to 35 percent in the last election. Full story here.
5:38 P.M. Meretz in 'danger zone,' Zandberg tells voters
Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg tells voters that "we are in the danger zone. We are fighting for every vote."
5:33 P.M. Turnout at 42.8 percent as of 4 P.M.
Voter turnout stands at 42.8 percent as of 4 P.M., down from 45.4 percent in 2015.
5:20 P.M. Netanyahu tells beachgoers to vote
Netanyahu visited Poleg beach, north of Tel Aviv, to urge beachgoers to vote: "If they stay at the beach and don't vote, they’ll wake up tomorrow with Yair Lapid as the head of a left-wing government. If you want to continue with Likud, and with me, then you need to go vote. Go to the beach after!"
He also accused Kahol Lavan members of tampering with Likud ballots: "I’m telling you, go to the voting booth and vote Likud! With Lapid and Gantz, their people are marking the ballots! Look at both sides. A ballot that’s marked is disqualified. So go to the voting booth to vote Likud."
5:14 P.M. Pollster says Arab turnout at historic low
Professor Camil Fuchs, pollster for Haaretz and Channel 13, says low turnout in Arab communities "is the biggest problem. We have never seen such things, and this may be the biggest drama."
5:05 P.M. Netanyahu cancels appearance at polling station, claims he received notice of low turnout in Likud strongholds
Netanyahu cancels an appearance at a polling station in Ashdod, writing on Twitter: "At the entrance to Ashdod, on the way to a Likud event, I received a dramatic update about very low voter turnout in Likud strongholds, compared to high turnout in left-wing strongholds. I canceled the event and just left for an emergency meeting in Jerusalem. The right must be saved. There are only a few hours more. Go out and vote Likud or we will get a left-wing government."
4:56 P.M. Kahol Lavan candidate Ashkenazi warns of attempt to sabotage election
Gabi Ashkenazi of Kahol Lavan warns that there are ongoing attempts to sabotage the election. "We are dealing in the past few hours with an attempt to sabotage this election, to mark Kahol Lavan ballots to get them disqualified," he said. "We are reporting these attempts and I am sure it will be taken care of." Gantz meanwhile warns in a video: "The numbers are good but it's not enough. We must work harder. Likud is disseminating lies. We must not be confused, we must work hard, to ensure that the ballot is correctly put in the box and to help us bring victory."
3:57 P.M. Gantz helps man injured in motorcycle accident
Gantz is filmed assisting a man lying in the road after being knocked off his motorcycle in an accident.
3:52 P.M. Likud claims Kahol Lavan is calling on Palestinians living in Israel to urge relatives to vote for Gantz-Lapid
Likud claims that Kahol Lavan is distributing Arabic-language calling on Palestinians living in Israel to encourage their relatives with voting rights to vote for it.
3:40 P.M. Temporary injunction issued against Hayamin Hehadash at Bennett's request
Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer issues a temporary injunction at the request of Hayamin Hehadash co-chair Naftali Bennett. Bennett claims the Union of Right-Wing Parties is distributing a video on social media from his days as the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi taken during the 2015 election, in which he is seen calling on the public to vote for Habayit Hayehudi. The Union of Right-Wing Parties is ordered to respond on Bennet's claims by 3:30 P.M.
3:35 P.M. Levi-Abekasis submits complaint over posts claiming she dropped out of race
Gesher Chairwoman Orly Levi-Abekasis submits a petition to the Central Elections Committee following posts on social media falsely claiming that her party had dropped out of the race. Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer instructs social media networks to remove every post suggesting Abekasis has pulled out of the race.
3:32 P.M. Smotrich confirms receiving extra security after Knesset receives threats against him
MK Bezalel Smotrich, running on the far-right Union of Right-Wing Parties slate, confirms that he was told by the Knesset's security chief that threatening letters targeting him had been received, prompting extra security for him and his family. A police car arrived at Smotrich's home this morning and accompanied him to his polling station.
3:25 P.M. Yisrael Beitenu submits complaint alleging Bennett and Shaked are spreading false claims to voters
The Yisrael Beitenu party submits a complaint to the Central Elections Committee against Hayamin Hehadash leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, alleging that they are deliberately misleading the public. The complaint involves text messages and robocalls targeting Russian speakers. The text messages claim that Yisrael Beitenu will fail to cross the electoral threshold and that Hayamin Hehadash is thus the correct choice. Meanwhile, voters have also received robocalls with someone impersonating Yisrael Beitenu candidate Evgeny Sova voicing a similar claim.
3:13 P.M. Netanyahu enlists John McLaughlin to help get right-wingers to vote
Netanyahu releases a video with U.S. President Donald Trump’s pollster John McLaughlin, together sounding the alarm that if Likud and the right-wing base do not turn out in full on Election Day, a “leftist’ government will take over Israel. Read the full story
3:12 P.M. People with disabilities reporting problems in reaching polling stations
Yuval Wagner, president of the Access Israel non-profit organization dedicated to rights for people with disabilities, says that many disabled people have reported obstacles making it difficult to reach their polling stations, despite the requirement that every polling station have at least one accessible ballot box. Wagner added that campaign booths have been placed near schools used as polling stations in several locations, which can block disabled people from making their way inside, and that there have been complaints that signs pointing to accessible booths are not sufficiently visible.
3:07 P.M. Turnout at 35.8% as of 2 P.M.
Voter turnout stands at 35.8 percent as of 2 P.M. slightly lower than 2015, when it was 36.6 percent. This equals about 2 million votes.
2:14 P.M. Feiglin is messianic but still a possible partner, Gantz tells Haaretz
Kahol Lavan chair says the Zehut leader is not as bad as other right-wing extremists, notes that Labor's Gabbay is indeed a senior partner, calls Meretz politically naive and criticizes Arab parties. Read the full story
2 P.M. Hadash busses East Jerusalem residents to polling stations
Dozens of residents of the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa in East Jerusalem reported that they were assigned to polling stations as far as a 30 minutes drive away from their homes. In response, the Hadash Party has been operating shuttle services transporting residents to polling stations.
Beit Safafa is the only neighborhood in East Jerusalem whose residents are eligible to vote since half of the neighborhood lies within the Green Line.
1:55 P.M. Election committee chairman instructs police to investigate disappearance of ballots
Israel's Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer instructed the police to investigate the disappearance of certain ballots for particular parties and the vandalizing and marking of other ballots. The Central Elections Committee said that if this turns out to be a recurring phenomenon, in order not to punish voters not responsible for the marking, the committee will consider determining these ballots as valid.
12:26 P.M. Election Committee chairman files complaint after 1,200 hidden cameras found at polling sites
Israel's Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer files complaint to the Israel Police after Likud provides right-wing activists with 1,200 hidden cameras to monitor Arab polling sites.
The police confiscated dozens of these cameras, while Netanyahu said there should be cameras everywhere in order to ensure a "kosher" voting process.
A senior police official said that at this point, there is no suspicion that a criminal offense was committed, adding that the activists caught with hidden cameras were outside the polling stations not inside them. The police are currently waiting for the Central Elections Committee's decision to determine whether the installment of the camera is an obstruction of the voting process.
The Central Elections Committee's legal counsel said, however, that polling officials could not film voters arriving at the polling stations nor during the voting process.
12 P.M. Voter turnout at 24.8 percent
Reports put voter turnout at 24.8 percent as of 12 P.M., slightly lower than turnout at this time in 2015. Voter turnout in the Arab town of Baqa al Gharbiyye was reported at 9 percent as of 12 P.M.
11:48 A.M. Netanyahu casts vote
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu votes at local polling station in Jerusalem alongside his wife Sara.
11:20 A.M. Yair Lapid casts vote: A vote for any part other than Kahol Lavan is a vote for Netanyahu
Kahol Lavan co-chairman Yair Lapid casts vote, saying “we’re a step away from victory, we need two more seats to win these historic elections in Israel. A vote for any party except Blue and White [Kahol Lavan] is a vote for Netanyahu. What we need now is to go and work hard across the country to bring the votes we need for victory.”
11:10 A.M. Arab party demands cameras illegally installed by right-wing activists be removed immediately
The Hadash-Ta’al slate files an urgent complaint to the Central Elections Committee, demanding that immediate removal of the cameras illegally installed by right-wing activists in polling stations in Arab communities. In the meantime, the police have begun removing the cameras in some polling stations.
Hadash-Ta’al says in statement: "The radical right fully understands the power we have to overthrow those in power, and [they] cross every red line through illegal measures in an attempt to intervene [in the election] and prevent the Arab citizens from voting. But we also understand the power we have, and today we are going out to vote and nothing will stop us."
11 A.M. Police deploy reinforcement to polling stations
The Israel Police spokesperson's office says additional forces were sent to local polling stations. In an official statement, the police say, "since the early hours of this morning, reinforced police forces have been deployed in polling stations throughout the country in order to maintain order and ensure that the democratic process is being implemented in accordance with the law."
11 A.M. Police find hidden cameras in Arab communities installed by right-wing activists
Israel Police find dozens of cameras installed by right-wing activists in polling stations in Arab communities, in cities including Nazareth, Reineh and Tamra. A police source, however, says filming at the entrance to polling stations does not constitute a felony unless cameras are installed behind the privacy divider.
The source added that to their knowledge, the cameras were not hidden behind the divider. It is still unclear which party initiated the installment of the cameras. A right-wing source told Haaretz that "the move was aimed to preserve the purity of the election and to assure that Ra'am-Balad won’t pass the threshold through falsifications.
A video shows the activists saying they were sent by the Likud.
10:45 A.M. Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg votes in Tel Aviv
MK Tamar Zandberg, Meretz chair, casts her vote at a local Tel Aviv polling site. "I admit I'm worried today. Meretz is in danger [not to pass the electoral threshold], and Meretz is the key for a [strong] left-center bloc. If Meretz goes down, the bloc goes down. Without Meretz there is no chance for a change," she says.
10:36 A.M. Hayamin Hehadash MK files complaint against Union of Right-Wing Parties
MK Moti Yogev from the Hayamin Hehadash party headed by Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked, files a complaint against the Union of Right-Wing Parties for distributing false propaganda. According to the complaint, a video of Naftali Bennett from his days as the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi has been broadcasted since this morning. In the video Bennett is seen calling on Israel's citizens to vote for Habayit Hayehudi, alongside an audio recording of Shaked backing him.
10:15 A.M. The Union of Right-Wing Parties leader says party will lead entire state
MK Bezalel Smotrich votes in the Jewish settlement of Kdumim in the West Bank. "The Union of Right-Wing Parties has already chosen to lead a long time ago, and continues, as the pioneer of Jewish settlement in Samaria, to lead the entire Jewish state," Smotrich says.
10:10 A.M. Arab slate Hadash-Ta'al banners defaced: 'Death to the Arabs'
Hadash-Ta’al banners hanging near Nazareth were vandalized with Hebrew graffiti saying “death to the Arabs" on it.
Meanwhile, Hadash-Ta'al leader Ayman Odeh casts his vote in Haifa.
"I'm happy and excited to vote today. I call on all of Israel's citizens to exercise their democratic right, especially the Arab citizens. Netanyahu doesn't want to see you casting your votes. Today we vote for a better future, for an alternative to the racist and extremist regime that has ruled here in the past decade. We must believe change is possible, that achieving equality is possible, that achieving peace is possible. Today we choose- apartheid or democracy," Odeh says.
Voter turnout in the Arab community for the election will be one of the factors affecting the representation of the Arab parties and the map of the blocs. United Arab List-Balad and the Hadash-Ta’al slate have been encouraging voters all night and morning to go out and vote.
In Sakhnin, one of the main Arab cities in the north, 30 polling stations are spread out over eight locations. Former mayor Mazen Ghanaim is running on the United Arab List-Balad slate for the Knesset and is in the sixth spot. Outgoing MK Masud Ganaim of the United Arab List also lives in Sakhnin.
A disturbance breaks out at a polling station in the Algadir School in the eastern neighborhood of the city after right-wing activists were caught with hidden cameras outside the polling stations. Only a few people have voted there thus far but party activists said the pace will pick up toward mid-day and in the afternoon.
10 A.M. Voter turnout at 12.9 percent
Polling sites are reporting a 12.9 voter turnout as of 10 A.M.. In 2015 turnout was at 13.7 percent and 2013 turnout was 11.4 percent at the same time. The overall turnout in 2015 was 71.8 percent.
9:55 A.M. Meretz files petition against Shas
Meretz filed a petition against the religious party Shas claiming its activists were distributing gifts outside polling sites in contravention of the law.
9:50 A.M. Right-wing extremists disturb Arab community polling sites
After polling sites opened in Arab communities, several towns complain of right-wing activists arriving at their voting sites with recording devices and hidden cameras. In Sakhnin, Arab party activists demanded that the right-wing extremists be removed from the site and filed a complaint with the police and the election committee.
9:40 A.M. Netanyahu invites voters to chat with him through Facebook
Netanyahu posts a video calling on voters to chat with him personally on Facebook messenger by clicking on a link. “This morning I want to talk to you personally through messenger. All you have to do is click the link. I am waiting.” Voters have also reported receiving SMS messages inviting them to personally chat through messages with the prime minister.
This is not the first time Netanyahu is using this tactic. In January Haaretz reported that tens of thousands of people have been getting personal Facebook messages from Netanyahu’s page, worded like a private message to the user: “Hello, this is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I wanted to personally ask you for your support in the upcoming election. What do you think?” The conversation is sent and managed by an automatic bot that responds to the user’s answers.
9:39 A.M. Bennett casts vote in Ra'anana
Hayamin Hehadash leader Naftali Bennett casts vote in Ra'anana, north of Tel Aviv.
9:30 A.M. Netanyahu says Zehut will join largest coalition
Netanyahu tells Likud ministers that Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin said his first call will be to the largest party.
9:30 A.M. President Reuven Rivlin casts vote in Jerusalem
President Reuven Rivlin goes to local polls in Jerusalem to cast vote. "The citizens of Israel, not party heads, will be the only ones to decide who will be the next prime minister and what the next government will look like. In order to make a difference you must go out and vote," Rivlin says.
9:25 A.M. Polling stations in prisons and hospitals open
Polling stations in prisons and hospitals throughout Israel open.
9:20 A.M. Litzman and Knesset speaker Edelstein vote
Deputy Health Minister and United Torah Judaism chair Yaakov Litzman votes in Jerusalem and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein votes in Herzliya.
9:05 A.M. Ashkenazi and Feiglin vote
Former military chief Gabi Ashkenazi votes in Kfar Saba and Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin votes in Karnei Shomron.
9 A.M. Avi Gabbay votes in Jerusalem
Labor party leader Avi Gabbay casts vote in Jerusalem with his mother. "Today my mother voted Labor for the first time in my life. Just as my mother, we see many people who read our plan and see our team who are going to vote Labor for the first time today. You'll be surprised."
8:56 A.M. Benny Gantz votes in Rosh Ha’ayin
Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz casts vote in central city of Rosh Ha'ayin, saying "We’re going to change the state of Israel." After casting his vote Gantz’s party issued a statement saying he will now go to Kfar Achim to visit his parents' gravesite.
Former military chief-of staff and Kahol Lavan candidate Moshe Ya'alon voted in Kibbutz Grofit.
8:55 A.M. Meretz asks local election committees to examine ballots
After multiple reports about left-wing party Meretz’s election ballots being corrupted, Meretz saysit had asked all local election committees to enter the ballots periodically and examine the state of the ballots
8:45 A.M. Election committee prohibits interviews
Chair of Israel's Central Elections Committee chairman Judge Hanan Melcer prohibits the media from interviewing politicians as electioneering is illegal on election day. Media outlets cancel planned interviews.
8.30 A.M. Ultra-Orthodox to protest election in Jerusalem
After plastering walls with anti-election posters in the religious Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She'arim warning "We are against the Zionist state, don't vote in their elections," ultra-Orthodox residents plan a protest at 1 P.M.
Israel's ultra-Orthodox community does not support the election or Zionism as they believe the Messiah must come before the State of Israel is established.
8:04 A.M. Moshe Kahlon and Arye Dery cast votes
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) casts his vote in Haifa and Shas party chairman Arye Dery votes in Jerusalem.
"If Kulanu gets another seat it will change the lives of millions of citizens, of the elderly, of the disabled, of the middle class, of young couples waiting for housing," Kahlon says.
8 A.M. Ayelet Shaked votes in Tel Aviv
Far-right Hayamin Hehadash party co-chair and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked heads to local polling station in Tel Aviv.
8 A.M. Lieberman casts vote
Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, votes in settlement of Nokdim. "Churchill said bad governments are the result of good people not voting. I hope the public knows these sleazy tricks [Netanyahu is pulling] and will vote for real right-wing parties," Lieberman says.
7 A.M. Polls open
More than 10,000 polling stations open throughout the country. Some 6.3 million eligible voters will cast their vote as hundreds of thousands of Israelis are expected to enjoy the day off.
6 A.M. Election Committee rejects Likud petition to transport Bedouins to polling stations
The Central Elections Committee denies a petition by Netanyahu's Likud against a left-wing group that’s trying to help Bedouins get out to vote.
C Functioning of Government
|Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?||3.00 3 4.00 4|
The government and parliament are free to set and implement policies and laws without undue interference from unelected entities. Military service plays an important role in both political and civilian life, with many top officers entering politics at the end of their careers, but elected civilian institutions remain in firm control of the military.
In 2019, the failure of two successive elections to yield a governing majority meant that the country lacked a fully empowered government for the entire year, with the incumbents remaining in place in a caretaker capacity. The instability continued in 2020, as the government formed in the wake of the March elections collapsed after about seven months in office, necessitating the fourth round of balloting in just two years.
High-level corruption investigations are relatively frequent, with senior officials implicated in several scandals and criminal cases in recent years. In November 2019, Netanyahu was indicted on separate charges of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust police had recommended the charges in 2018 after conducting three investigations into his alleged acceptance of expensive gifts, his apparent attempt to collude with the owner of the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth to secure positive coverage, and the granting of regulatory favors to telecommunications operator and media conglomerate Bezeq in return for positive coverage. Netanyahu denied the charges against him, accused law enforcement bodies of perpetrating “an attempted coup,” and called for a commission to “investigate the investigators.” He refused to step down as prime minister after the indictment and continued to hold office through 2020. He also pursued legislative approval of an immunity bill that would shield him and other lawmakers from prosecution while in office, though the measure had not passed at year’s end. Pretrial hearings proceeded during the year, with the prosecution scheduled to formally open its case in early 2021.
Also during 2020, prosecutors continued to investigate Netanyahu’s former personal attorney, a former navy commander, and a number of other former officials for alleged bribery related to a contract to purchase naval vessels. Police had recommended charges in 2018.
A law passed in 2017 limits the circumstances under which the police can file indictment recommendations when investigating elected officials and senior civil servants, and increases the penalties for leaking a police recommendation or other investigative materials. While the law did not apply to existing investigations, the parliamentary opposition at the time accused the majority of trying to weaken law enforcement agencies to protect its political leadership.
Israel’s laws, political practices, civil society groups, and independent media generally ensure a substantial level of governmental transparency, though recent corruption cases have illustrated persistent shortcomings. The Freedom of Information Law grants every citizen and resident of Israel the right to receive information from a public authority. However, the law includes blanket exemptions that allow officials to withhold information on the armed forces, intelligence services, the Atomic Energy Agency, and the prison system, potentially enabling the concealment of abuses.