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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.