News

    Israeli PM Calls for Early Parliamentary Elections

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech to his Likud party members in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 6, 2012.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech to his Likud party members in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, May 6, 2012.
    Scott Bobb

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for early parliamentary elections, indicating that he would like them to be held in four months.  Mr. Netanyahu's right-wing coalition has been one of the most stable in recent times. But there were growing divisions, primarily over domestic issues.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the dissolution of his coalition government more than a year before scheduled elections and told cheering members of his Likud party that he would like elections to be held in September.

    Mr. Netanyahu said he did not want a year and a-half of instability and that a short campaign period of four months would ensure political stability.  He added that political instability always brings "extortion" and "populism," which harm security, the economy and society.

    Recent public opinion surveys indicate that the prime minister remains popular and that his center-right Likud party likely would win enough votes to allow him to form the next government.

    Mr. Netanyahu's political coalition, formed three-and-a-half years ago, has split over a controversial law that exempts ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arab Israelis from military or civilian service.  Nationalist-secular parties in the ruling coalition say all Israelis should serve.  Highly religious parties reject this.

    Jerusalem businessman Eli Tal says the government is stable, but indecisive. “Probably the hard decisions they should make, they don't feel enough in-power to make the really serious decisions," he said.

    For many Israelis, the economy is the main issue.  Demonstrations over the high cost of living and lack of social services rocked the Netanyahu government last year.

    Adi Botshvalb says the rent for a small apartment today costs 3,000 shekels or nearly $1,000.

    “The prices here are crazy.  You need to pay around 3,000 shekels for a good place, and apartment.  We pay 2,600 [shekels] and we live in, like, a little basement," he said.

    In addition, the Israeli military wants more funds to face what it says is rising antagonism in the region, following last year's popular uprisings known as the Arab Spring.  There are also fears of a conflict if Israel carries out its threat to attack Iran's suspected nuclear weapons facilities.  Iran denies it is building nuclear weapons.  As a result, the Netanyahu government was facing a major battle over next year's budget.

    Hebrew University political scientist Abraham Diskin says the divisions in Mr. Netanyahu's ruling coalition are typical of Israeli politics.

    “What really matters in Israeli elections is the balance between the two blocks, the right-wing parties and the left-wing parties.  And the balance is very fragile," he said.

    Analysts say that during the election campaign, the Israeli government will be less likely to launch a military strike against Iran, fearing an electoral backlash if the operation fails.  They also say the campaign period will likely further delay the stalled Middle East peace talks as Palestinian leaders wait, hoping for a more flexible negotiating partner.

    The proposed elections must be approved by the Israeli parliament, which is scheduled to meet on Monday.  Leaders across the political spectrum have said they support an early vote.

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora