Israeli’s Go To Polls In “Quiet” Election


While Americans are preparing to celebrate the swearing-in of President Obama, Israeli’s are preparing to head to the polls. This election is receiving little attention, despite the important implications.  It is widely expected that Benjamin Netanyahu will be re-elected as Prime Minister, and then the real work begins.  Due to lack of progress in peace talks with the Palestinians, and with the recent missile attacks, Israeli’s have been edging towards the right.  Without peace prospects and now that Hamas has demonstrated its ability to hit inside Israel’s largest cities, people are afraid.  The widely held notion, is that a right leaning government, led by Netanyahu, will do a better job of protecting citizens than a left leaning government.  President Obama must bare some of the responsibility for the current situation in the middle east as he has done the least of any siting president to promote peace, since, perhaps, the state of Israel was established.  If anything, he has hurt the peace process with his obvious dislike for Netanyahu and his lack of attention to the region.  The President might not want to appear to favor Israel but he certainly shouldn’t give the Palestinians the idea he is against her.  Obama must do more in his second term than simply throw up his hands.  He has demonstrated by his actions, he is simply out of his league in this area.  In addition to the situation with Hamas, the average Israeli citizen is fearful of what will happen in Egypt and the deteriorating situation in Syria.  There are other pressing issues such as a $4 billion dollar deficit and the inability to adopt a 2013 budget, which is the reason the election was called.  But the current instability in the region is clearly at the forefront.  There are thirty-four different parties seeking seats in the 120 member Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.  Netanyahu will win the greatest number of seats but will require negotiations with other parties in order to build a coalition that can claim a clear majority.  He can expect clear opposition from the left leaning labor party which should claim the second largest number of seats.  Then it’s a matter of trying to find common ground between the right leaning parties and more centrist parties which is much more easily said than done.  For Israel, its greatest hope lies in the peace process.  Hopefully the President will do a better job in his second term in bringing both parties back to the negotiating table.  If Israel is to maintain its Jewish Identity, it has no choice.  Yes there are those who will never accept Israel’s right to exist, but 1) Israel can more than take care of herself and 2) if there was a peace agreement and Israel was attacked, the world would be on her side, allaying the fear of her demise. While it may appear the peace process is all but dead, often, those who are the most hawkish, as with President Ronald Reagan, make the best peace.  Negotiating from perceived weakness, particularly in that part of the world, can never be successful.  But it’s time to take the risk.  It’s time for the Israeli’s and the Palestinian’s to finally “give peace a chance”.

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