News / Middle East

Israel Forms New Coalition Government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office, March 10, 2013.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in his Jerusalem office, March 10, 2013.
Robert Berger
Israeli political parties have reached a coalition agreement, clearing the way for a new government and some top-level international diplomacy as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to visit.

It took a weakened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nearly six weeks to form a new Israeli government, barely beating a Saturday deadline. Netanyahu won national elections in January, but his right-wing Likud party lost ground to moderate, secular parties which set down tough demands.

For the first time in years, ultra-Orthodox parties are out of the government. Israeli analyst Gerald Steinberg says that means a coalition with a more domestic agenda, led by ending military draft exemptions and stipends for the ultra-Orthodox.

“It’s going to tackle those domestic issues, that’s the goal at least, in terms of the distribution of the burden both military and financial. So it’s going to be very much inward looking," said Steinberg.

But when Netanyahu announced the coalition deal, he noted that the broader Middle East is in turmoil.

He said the new government must tackle major security and political challenges. He did not elaborate, but in previous statements, he has named them as Iran’s controversial nuclear program, the danger of Syria’s chemical weapons falling into the hands of Islamic terror groups, and reviving peace talks with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu says Iran will top the agenda when U.S. President Barack Obama visits Israel next week. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but Israel and the United States believe the Islamic Republic is developing nuclear weapons that could threaten the existence of the Jewish state.

Steinberg believes the prime minister will tell President Obama that if international diplomacy and sanctions fail, Israel is prepared to take military action against Iran on its own.  

“As we get closer to the summer, and if we see progress towards an Iranian nuclear weapon, Netanyahu’s going to say, ‘If the Americans don’t act, if there’s no international military action, we’re going to have to act unilaterally,’ and he will get broad support from the Israeli public and most of the Israeli political system, including within his own coalition," he said.

Domestic issues and Iran have pushed the Palestinian issue to the back burner. But Netanyahu says reviving peace talks after a four-year stalemate is a priority.

Steinberg doesn’t expect any breakthroughs.

“We’re certainly going to go see some sort of negotiating effort because Obama is going to push for it; it’s something that for PR reasons the Israelis have to show that they’re interested," he said. "So we’ll see some movement in that direction, but probably not much substance.”

The Palestinians have refused to return to the negotiating table until Israel stops all settlement expansion, a demand rejected by the previous Israeli government. But there is speculation that with President Obama coming and a more moderate coalition in power, Israel might be willing to make concessions on the settlements.

Obama will discuss these issues with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas when they meet in the West Bank next week.

You May Like

US Border Patrol Union Accused of Taking Sides on Immigration

Report alleges agents leaking info to immigration opponents, appearing at their private events; Center for Immigration Studies director defends agents' actions More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

Video Rights Monitor: Hate Groups' Use of Internet to Inflame, Recruit Growing

Wiesenthal Center's Abraham Cooper says extremists have become skilled at celebrating violence, ideology on Web 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.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs