By Daniel Marx (Boger and Madrich)
In January 2013, Israel saw one of its more interesting Knesset elections. Whilst the overall outcome resulted in Netanyahu’s re-election as Prime Minister, something far less precedented had happened simultaneously; a brand-new party, Yesh Atid (‘There is a Future’), led by former broadcast news host, Yair Lapid, became the second largest party represented in the Knesset.
Yesh Atid, formed only a year previously, claimed to stand for the secular middle-class. They campaigned for, among other things, draft equality – removing exemptions for the ultra-orthodox – a two-state solution, and greater religious pluralism. This platform proved to be popular among voters on an unprecedented level, winning them 19 seats in the election on January 22nd.
This popularity was negatively affected through the party’s coalition with Netanyahu’s Likud party, with many voters feeling let down by Yesh Atid’s inability to enact many of the social and economic policies on which they ran.
By March, Israel had other problems to address, and one in particular was of an oddly biblical nature. On the 5th of March, swarms of locusts entered the country from Egypt. Whilst the Ministry of Agriculture was equipped to deal with this issue, the swarms did cause minor disruption to Israeli farmers, as well as additional swarms of broadcast news jokes about the ten plagues.
All in all, 2013 was for Israel, a year of minor disruptions. Neither Yesh Atid or the locusts rocked the very foundations of Israeli society, but the former, at the very least, got people talking about change; something that should never be undervalued.