News / Middle East

Campaigning in High Gear for Israeli Elections

Campaigning in High Gear for Tuesday's Israeli Electionsi
X
January 17, 2013 6:34 PM
As Israel prepares for national elections Tuesday, public opinion surveys indicate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's center-right Likud Party and its partner, the right-wing Israel Our Home party, are likely to win enough votes to form the next government. Opinion polls also show recent gains by center-left and far-right parties, however, could affect the outcome. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Scott Bobb
As Israel prepares for national elections Tuesday, public opinion surveys indicate that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's center-right Likud Party and its partner, the right-wing Israel Our Home party, are likely to win enough votes to form the next government. Opinion polls also show recent gains by center-left and far-right parties, however, could affect the outcome.

In the final days of the nation's election campaign, candidates criss-crossed the country appealing for votes.

The incumbent, Netanyahu, campaigned on the stability of his previous government, his influence among world leaders and his opposition to Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

He said Israel has invested billions of dollars in getting stronger in order to ensure security for its citizens.

Israel's Major Political Parties:
 
  • Likud: Israel's main conservative party; supports the Israeli settlement movement in the occupied West Bank
  • Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home): Secular, nationalist party that wants to redraw borders so that parts of Israel with large Arab populations would be in a Palestinian state
  • Yesh Atid: Centrist party founded by former journalist Yair Lapid in 2012
  • Labor: Center-left party; supports renewing peace negotiations with the Palestinians and dismantling most Israeli settlements
  • Shas (Union of Sephardic Torah Observers): Represents Israel's ultra-orthodox Jews of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Spanish origin and advocates a nation based on Jewish religious law
  • Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home): Far-right party that advocates annexing more than half the West Bank and opposes the Oslo Peace Accords
Facing myriad challenges

Netanyahu made the pledge in the face of growing Palestinian frustration over the stalled Middle East peace talks and Israeli concerns over the rise of Islamist leaders from the political upheaval in the Arab world.

Five-and-one-half-million voters are registered to cast ballots Tuesday at about 10,000 polling stations across the country.

Thirty-four parties are fielding candidates for the 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. But less than half are expected to receive the minimum two percent of the total vote needed to qualify for a seat in the body.

The prime minister's Likud party is running on a joint list with the secular-nationalist party, called Israel Beiteinu, or Israel Our Home.  

Bayit Yehudi pushes ahead

But the religious-nationalist party, called Jewish Home - or Bayit Yehudi, has been gaining in the polls recently. Jewish Home opposes any Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.  

Both of these nationalist parties joined with Likud and several ultra-religious parties to form the previous government.

Hebrew University Political Science Professor Avraham Diskin said Netanyahu would like to form a new government that depends less on the right-wing.

“I am quite sure that Netanyahu will be interested in having centrist and even left-wing parties in his coalition. That's the way he behaved during the outgoing Knesset,” said Diskin.

Focus on economy, social issues

During the election campaign, center-left parties in the opposition have focused primarily on social issues, the high cost of living, and the gap between rich and poor.

The leader of the Labor party, Shelly Yachimovich, recently visited Jerusalem's main outdoor market. She said she would only join a government that promotes social justice.

The Kadima party, which governed prior to the outgoing Netanyahu government, has splintered. According to polls, it probably will win only a handful of seats. Two new parties, the Movement party and the “There is a Future” party, are said to be interested in joining a Netanyahu coalition if certain conditions are met.

Diskin said a major issue that rarely has been discussed in the campaign is the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

“In other countries it's really the economy and social issues. It [these issues] is important in Israel and it caused huge rallies in 2011. But still, I believe the most important issue is the Arab-Israeli conflict,” said Diskin.

Moderation possible

Israeli columnist Danny Rubinstein said forming a coalition with the center-left might lead Netanyahu to adopt more moderate policies toward the Palestinians.

“He [Netanyahu] has to pay something to the right wing, to the extreme right. But when it will come to his new coalition, he will prefer not to do it, not to provoke the Palestinians, not to provoke the Arab world and, most of all, not to provoke America,” said Rubinstein.

Camil Fuchs, a pollster with the University of Tel Aviv, said if opposition parties make enough gains in the elections, Netanyahu could choose to form a coalition with them.

“However, if that would bring him a relatively shaky coalition, then he may continue to opt for the right wing,” he said.

Fuchs noted that although the Netanyahu alliance is leading in the polls, there is a chance that a late shift in voter preferences could affect the outcome of the election.

The Israeli government's growing budget deficit was a major factor in calling the early elections, but candidates largely ignored the issue during the campaign.

Analysts say reducing the deficit will require major spending cuts and probably higher taxes. As a result, they say the budget is likely to figure prominently in the negotiations to form the next Israeli government.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: reşat from: konya
January 18, 2013 2:38 AM
ısraeli's political and military position are very important in blood geography to self-defense against arab world that in this year forming radical islamists government by uprising. this government's growing budget deficit is likely owing to spending on army activities. American public opinion has not ignored during campaign of election by politician especially much more experienced Netenyahu. ıf new governmet will not keep balance between peace talks with palestinians and taking measure of self- defense, people could more suffered from the endless conflict that palestinian has been victim by non-sense settlements policies. ı hope in the name of peace election's outcomes will provide new policies..long live brotherhood of peoples, long live brotherhood jewish and arabs


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 17, 2013 6:45 PM
I do not often disagree with Pres Obama, because, so far, he is on track with his approach, on most issues, as far as I can see/believe. On the issue of the Israeli election, a gigant strategic error has been made, by providing anti-Netanyahu comments. For peace in the ME between Isr/Pal, both sides must absolutely have strong leaders with a high degree of credibility with their respective people's. The way it was with the Egyptian peace agreement, between Isr/Egi. It is unfortunate that Pres. A. Saddat lost his life soon after, he was a tremendous person. The unfortunate sit, currently, is that the Pal side is not united, and it does not have a leader that is credible to his people. It should have been noticed that the PM of Isr, was seeking a partnership with the centre left, rather than the extreme right; a clear indicator, missed by those advising the Pres, as to which way PM Netanyahu was leaning. The unfortunate, anti Netanyahu comments leaked, may push him to join the extreme right in the next gvmt. At the same time the Isr center left/left appears to be disintegrating due to a very badly managed campaign strategy, and even negative comments on some Isr minorities. Not good news for the way ahead. The worse issue, is that the Pal side needs a credible, dynamic, forward looking leader, not one tainted with more of the same and corruption allegations. Peace can only be achieve with people of stature, and with people whose word does not change with the wind. The Pal side needs to have a visionary leader.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid