What Will Happen After Israeli Elections?

. 2/10/09

Gaza is longing for real truce and a successful reconstruction process; Jerusalem is suffering from the persisting Judaization efforts; Arab-Israelis are being promised an expulsion from their lands and homes under the push for a Jewish Israel. Regionally, Israeli politicians place Hamas, Hizbullah, and Iran as major threats to Israel.

In the light of these hot topics facing the upcoming Israeli government, which of the down-listed contesting parties do you think is most capable of reaching a durable and just peace with the Palestinians?

Kadima — Led by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the ruling, centrist party supports the creation of a Palestinian state as outlined in 1990s interim agreements and was responsible for the recent attacks on Gaza.

Likud — Filleted by Sharon and currently led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu wants to shift the focus of peace talks with the Palestinians away from territorial issues that have stymied an agreement and concentrate instead on boosting Israel's economy. He has also pledged to end Hamas's rule over the Gaza Strip. Likud backs a two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians but says their future state must be demilitarized and have limited powers.

Labor — Having ruled for the first half of Israel's 60-year history, the centre-left party is now led by Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who served as prime minister from 1999 to 2001. During that period he pulled Israeli troops out of south Lebanon and held peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria, but failed to clinch deals. His handling of the recent Gaza attacks won praise in Israel but has not boosted his party in the opinion polls.

Yisrael Beiteinu — The party leader is Avigdor Lieberman, whose policies towards Arabs, which some critics have dubbed racist, have won growing support among the general electorate, according to opinion polls. Lieberman says land where many of Israel's 1.5 million Arabs live should be "swapped" for West Bank Jewish settlements in a peace deal with the Palestinians. Lieberman, the former aide to Netanyahu, founded "Our Home is Israel" in 1999.

Shas — The Union of Sephardic Torah Observers, or Shas, has a mostly poor supporters who are drawn from the fast growing community of religious Jews of Middle Eastern origin whose spiritual leader is the 88-year-old, Iraqi-born rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Other Parties — Nearly a third of parliamentary seats are held by minor parties. Meretz (5 seats) is a left-wing party not in the outgoing coalition. Along with a group of parties, Hadash, United Arab List, and Balad, representing Israel's Arab citizens and which together have 10 seats, Meretz supports making concessions for peace. United Torah Judaism (6 seats) represents ultra-Orthodox Jews of Ashkenazi, or European, background. National Union/NRP (9), is an ultra-right religious coalition that demands an end to peace talks. The Pensioners have 7 seats and speak out for Israel's older population.

Source: Islamonline

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