Friday, November 23, 2012

Country Focus: Israel

Israeli bombing of neighborhoods in the Gaza Strip on November 21, 2012.
Israel 2013 Election, Resulting Impacts in the Middle East

After eight days of bombardment by Israel on the Gaza strip, the two sides have agreed to a ceasefire. Airstrikes began after Hamas launched rockets which killed six Israelis, a stark contrast to the 160 Palestinian lives lost to the Israeli attacks on the Gaza strip. Nonetheless, the two sides have met in Cairo to discuss the opening of the previously blockaded Gaza strip and to negotiate an end to Hamas led rocket attacks which have occurred in Southern Israel for years. Clearly, the hardline Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has his hands full, leaving him little room to plan for the winter elections scheduled for January 22, 2013.

According to Robert M. Danin in an interview conducted by CNN, President Netanyahu is a national favorite. Little will change in terms of electoral approval of President Netanyahu if Israel was to go forward with a ground operation in Gaza. The Middle Eastern specialist, Danin, contends the only concern for President Netanyahu which would hinder his re-election is if a soldier was kidnapped or held captive. The Palestine issue is at the forefront of this election, and the seven year unshakable incumbent President Netanyahu is not likely to forget that.

President Netanyahu called for an early election date of January 22, suspected to do so after charges of corruption were cleared for Ehud Olmert. Olmert, a former premier and a strong opposition to the ruling government, can now run in a national election. To avoid electoral competition, President Netanyahu chose to speed up the election date, as a means to guarantee his re-election. With the exclusion of Olmert, President Netanyahu’s Likud’s party will likely gain twice the seats than last term. Meaning, the third term of Netanyahu will be smooth sailing, given the absence of a strong opposition party to question his decisions. This raises a number of concerns, for one, the Israeli government given its new found parliamentary freedom can conduct itself how it pleases in the Middle East. What we can expect is that Israel will become more aggressive in the region, especially to contain Iranian power and possibly the Palestinian settlement.

On the home front, critics are frustrated with the free market economic planning of the country, which would place a large strain on local governments. As well, not too recently, the Transparency International Report on Corruption found the Israeli Military Industries blacklisted by India because of misdemeanour on the part of the director general on a state run Ordnance Factory Board. And in December 2011, Israel fell to the lowest ranking yet, on the Corruption Index: a ranking based on bribery, public sector kickbacks and the misuse of public funding. (In 2010 Israel ranked 6.1 out of 10, and 2011, Israel ranked 5.8 out of 10).This, however, has not hindered the likelihood of President Netanyahu’s Likud Party’s majority rule.

Mansharn Toor, FDA Researcher and Blogger

Question to Readers:

What effect if any, will the January Elections in Israel have on the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine in Cairo?

CNN Interview of Danin

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