News / Middle East

Israeli Election Results Have Regional Fallout

Scott Bobb
Preliminary election results show Israel's right-wing and center-left blocs winning an even split of seats in parliament -- a surprise result that leaves Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu working to form a new ruling coalition.

With more than 99 percent of the vote counted Wednesday, each side had 60 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

Netanyahu's hard-line Likud party alliance with the Yisrael Beitenu party led with 31 seats - 11 fewer than its 42 spots in the previous parliament.

The prime minister is expected to be asked to form a government, a task made more difficult by the unexpected success of centrist parties.

But the fallout is expected to be felt regionally as Israel will likely retain its hardline stance on Iran's controversial nuclear program and debate will continue over  dormant talks with the Palestinians over the Mideast peace process.

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
The biggest surprise came from the secular Yesh Atid party, which won 19 seats, beating out the Labor Party's 17 seats and the 12 seats won by the far-right religious nationalist Jewish Home party.

Netanyahu claimed victory and vowed to form as broad a coalition as possible.

He told cheering supporters "the first challenge was and remains preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."  He also said he hopes to "effect the kind of change the Israeli people are waiting for" with "the broadest government possible."

Nearly 67 percent of Israel's 5.5 million voters cast ballots Tuesday, a larger turnout than in previous elections.  Some analysts say the turnout may have helped centrists gain traction and win legislative seats.

Regional fallout

Official tallies are expected next week but already the results are having a regional fallout.

Netanyahu is expected to retain the leading role in governing and analysts foresee little change in Israeli policies on security and major regional issues including his hardline stance on Iran.

“First, strong security in the face of the great challenges before us, and the first challenge was, and remains, preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” he said.

That was echoed by Liliane Brunswich, who voted in Jerusalem's well-to-do German Colony. “I want our government to protect Israel,” she said.

Stalled peace process

Hebrew University political science professor Avraham Diskin said the lack of progress on ending the Israeli-Arab conflict polarized the electorate.

Israel Election Results

Talks have been stalled for months over several issues including the building of Israeli enclaves in largely-Palestinian environs.

"Something close to 70 percent of the voters believe in the two-state solution," Diskin said. "They support negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. But also 70 percent - not the same 70 percent - don't believe there is a chance to achieve a peaceful agreement."

Political commentator Danny Rubinstein said Israelis are worried too about the rise of Islamist leaders in neighboring countries amid the upheaval in the Arab world.

“What happened in the Arab world, especially in Egypt and in Syria, proved to the Israelis that you can't trust the Arabs," he said. "We can make an agreement with a regime in Egypt or a regime in Syria and all of a sudden this regime has fallen apart and there is another regime.”

Palestinian officials see little hope that a new government will change the Israeli stance.

“I don't see a peace coalition or a peace camp emerging now and revitalizing itself," Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official with the Palestine Liberation Organization said Wednesday.
 
  • Supporters of Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party celebrate at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 23, 2013.
  • Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party, gestures in front of supporters at his party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 23, 2013.
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waves to supporters as he stands at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, January 23, 2013.
  • Head of the Jewish Home party Naftali Bennett arrives at his party's headquarters in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, after exit polls were announced, January 22, 2013.
  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touches the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City after casting his ballot in Israel's parliamentary election January 22, 2013.
  • An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man stands near a booth at a polling station in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Kochav Ya'acov, north of Jerusalem, January 22, 2013.
  • A Druze woman casts her ballot for the parliamentary election at a polling station in the northern Druze-Arab village of Maghar, Israel, January 22, 2013.

 
 

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More