News / Middle East

Israeli Election Results Have Regional Fallout

No Major Change Expected in Israel's Regional Policiesi
X
January 23, 2013 12:46 PM
Israel's Election Committee says preliminary results indicate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing alliance has won Tuesday's parliamentary elections (with 31 seats) but that centrist and leftist parties made significant gains, leading to a virtual tie in the number of seats won by the right- and left-wing blocs. Netanyahu has vowed to build a broad-based coalition government, but analysts foresee little change in Israeli policies on security and major regional issues. VOA's Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.

No Major Change Expected in Israel's Regional Policies

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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid