Netanyahu announces early elections, Knesset to set date in coming days


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday announced that the country would hold Knesset elections in the coming months, following prolonged friction between partners in the leader’s coalition. Elections are likely to be held in March, following a 90-day campaign period in accordance with Israeli law. The Knesset is expected to vote on a bill in the coming days dissolving itself and setting a date for elections. Initial polling conducted by Israel’s Channel 2 indicated that if an election were to be held today, Netanyahu’s Likud party would win a plurality of the vote – 22 of the 120 seats in the country’s Knesset – with the Jewish Home party at 17 seats, the Labor party at 13, Yisrael Beiteinu at 10, a new party formed by former Likud member Moshe Kahlon at 10, and Yesh Atid at 9 seats. Netanyahu had earlier Tuesday fired Hatnuah’s Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, respectively the country’s justice minister and finance minister. Immediately after Netanyahu’s announcement, Yesh Atid ministers met, with the remaining ministers submitting their resignation following the meeting. The Channel 2 poll also indicated that a majority of Israelis (55 percent) opposed holding early elections – the current Knesset was elected in January 2013 – and that the public is split on who is to blame for the government breakup: 39 percent faulted the prime minister, 30 percent placed the blame on Lapid, and 23 percent blamed both parties.


In a country already boasting the honor of having the most museums per capita in the world, the opening of the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art and Heritage (AMOCAH) in the Galilee is nonetheless eliciting great excitement. The new museum – set to open its doors on December 13 – will showcase “original works of contemporary art alongside items of Palestinian heritage” and host artistic cooperation and collaboration between Jews and Arabs. “Every museum has its uniqueness. Museums today are not just about safeguarding art; there has to be an agenda to the museum. This museum is an opportunity for Jews and Arabs to meet, for their cultures to meet,” Israeli artist Avital Bar-Shay, one of the founders of AMOCAH, tells ISRAEL21c. Bar-Shay and Belu-Simion Fainaru, a Romanian artist who lives in Haifa part of the year, came up with the idea for AMOCAH. The Sakhnin municipality and its mayor, Mazin G’Nayem, jumped aboard the project and helped allot the museum’s new home in Sakhnin’s Old City. The museum has more than 2,000 objects related to Palestinian Arab heritage and some 200 contemporary artworks. Fainaru and Bar-Shay envisioned the museum after curating and running the Mediterranean Biennale in Sakhnin in 2013. They plan to run future biennales under the auspices of AMOCAH. The museum is also launching a residency program with artist Johannes Vogel as its first participant. He will come live in Sakhnin, give workshops and create artworks based on his experiences there. Though this past summer’s Gaza war, Operation Protective Edge, stirred up trouble between the Arab and Jewish populations in Israel and tensions continue to simmer, Fainaru and Bar-Shay decided not to delay the opening of the museum. They wanted to offer something positive to counter the tense atmosphere. “Through art, [we] will bridge the conflicts with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary arts, self-respect, and a vision of a better future,” reads a press statement announcing the museum’s opening. Fainaru also talks about the importance of helping the city’s residents engage with the art. “In Sakhnin, the museum will be located inside the neighborhood. People live near it. The intention is that the community will have access to it, that art will exist together with the residents and not just for its own sake,” Fainaru told the Israeli daily Haaretz. “So it is also important to choose works that will not offend the residents’ sensibilities, since this is a very sensitive and volatile place. We don’t want to create opposition; we want to create success and attraction.” (via Israel21c)

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