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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs