Saturday, October 27

The Upcoming Israeli Elections and the Peace Process

English: Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli politician
English: Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli politician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician
English: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon election fever will be upon the Israeli voter and the various party lists will be competing for votes. The party lists are being formed and one of the big surprises has been the amalgamation of Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud with Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu to form Likud Beiteinu. There is a dearth of commentators on this unification and the Israeli Press is saturated with analysis and predictions so it is unnecessary to go into the positive and negative aspects of this move for which only time will tell.

The range of parties is quite large but there is nothing new in any of them. The thinking voter will have a very difficult time to choose the party of his choice.

The right wing will grow stronger after these elections and it is almost a foregone conclusion that Netanyahu will continue to be prime minister. When one asks the average Israeli voter who will be the next PM of Israel, the answer is almost unanimous - "Bibi Netanyahu, as there is nobody else". This is a good enough reason to predict the outcome of the elections.

One can feel the beginning of election fever. The only way to decide is by elimination. Most of us know for whom we will not vote. Even the Zionist parties of the right and the left have put the Peace Process and the relationship with the Arab World on the back burner. This does not seem to be an issue at all. It is business as usual. The Qassam rockets from Hamas-controlled Gaza, fall on the south of of Israel and results in injury and death to innocent people. The Israeli Army retaliates and hit the terrorists responsible and in many cases innocent people also lose their lives.

Many Israelis have come to the conclusion that there is no partner for peace or at least this is what seems to be the case in Hamas-controlled Gaza. The non-recognition of Israel's right to exist among the extremist Islamist groups must be blamed for this state of affairs.

Despite this pessimistic view, there are Palestinians who have had enough of the stalemate and the lack of progress towards peace. They are the silent majority whose voice is suppressed by their corrupt leadership. Israel should be more forthcoming in finding a solution to this conflict which is a drain on Israel's resources. The lack of progress on a solution to the conflict also strengthens Iran and the Likud's desire to strike at Iran's nuclear capabilities which will also become part of Netanyahu's election campaign. This will also gain him much support. Much of Ahmadinajad's rhetoric against Israel may just be demagogic bluster and this is working in the right wing's favour. An Israel at peace with its Arab neighbours, including the Palestinians, could be a strong bulwark against Iran as nobody will gain from war. The Palestinian People will be the most exposed to fallout from Iran's nuclear capability if there is a nuclear war with Iran.

The other small parties on the right may be ready to join the right wing Lieberman - Netanyahu coalition as the situation of the right wing will be more clearcut and all embracing of the extremist right wing which is very settler oriented in the occupied West Bank. The Kadima Party has weakened because of defections to the Likud and to other directions. Kadima is on the verge of collapse.

The Labor Party with Shelly Yechimovitch as leader seems to be an alternative at first sight. However, they hope to capture the voter's support on their socio-economic programme which on the surface seems to be more soft serve capitalism oriented than the Likud tycoon orientation which somehow is eroding the middle class. On certain issues such as peace and security and the importance of these issues is not a priority.

Meretz is weak and is not much of a factor in these elections. Zahava Gal On is a good parliamentarian and a forceful speaker but her colleagues in the party are conspicuous by not being active on issues where they should such as the peace process and human rights issues. The religious Zionist and non-Zionist parties are right wing as well and are
problematic when it comes to separation of religion and state. A religious party can never be a democratic party as they all have partisan issues which rely on their own religious supporters.

The Hadash or Communist Party is the only non-partisan party in theory which is a Jewish-Arab party but it is doctrinaire and is weak on human rights as they tend to support the Butcher of Damascus - Bashar Assad of Syria. It also believes in the two-state solution and coexistence between Jews and Arabs. Apart from Dov Cheinin and occasionally Mohammed Barakeh, the party leader, most of their Knesset members have been little more than dormant. The Arab Parties, Ra'am - Ta'al are no less partisan than the extreme right wing parties. Their policy on the Jewish sector in Israel is not on their platform and is unknown.

It is unclear at this stage which party one can support in these upcoming elections especially as the peace process seems to be on the back burner of all the Zionist 
parties from right to left. Perhaps the reason is, especially among the Zionist left, they may not get them much support. 

Our hopes are that the parties will get their act together not only on social and economic issues but also on the peace process with our Palestinian neighbours and accept the changes occurring in the Arab World and how we in Israel can come to terms with these dramatic changes so that all will benefit. After all Israel is an integral part of the Middle East. 

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