Israeli election draws input from MSU students, faculty
As democratic parliamentary elections were held in Israel on Tuesday and took the international spotlight, many are wondering what effects this will have not only on Israel, but on an international scale as well.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party inched out opponents in the election, which many expected and polls projected. According to exit polls as of 6 p.m. last night, the Likud party and Netanyahu captured 31 seats to win, the Huffington Post reported.
But it is not the outcome of the election that is news, said Kenneth Waltzer, the director of the Jewish Studies Program at MSU. Waltzer said people should be more focused on what Netanyahu will do after the election.
MSU community members are weighing in on what implications the election might have on peace talks and foreign affairs.
Israel has a party parliamentary system, like that of the United Kingdom, and the party who will run the government has to win the majority of seats in parliament.
Waltzer said this year will be a monumental year for Israel in terms of its international relations and conflicts following the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this fall.
“2013 is the year that Israel and the west have to deal with Iran — either diplomatically or otherwise — and I think there has be some resurrection of the peace process,” Waltzer said. “Otherwise, the probability of a two state solution is very dim.”
This will in part be determined when Netanyahu decides the make up of his coalition in the subsequent days after the election — whether he sways left-center or to the right because of pressure from the Likud, or Jewish Home party, Waltzer said. Israel holds an election about every four years.
Left-center represents a two-state system, with the right leaning away from that. The right is known for tenser U.S. and international relations, Waltzer said.
But others, such as international relations senior Chris Burnett, the president of Students for Freedom and Equality, a Palestinian activist group at MSU, are not as certain what impact the election will have.
Burnett said he believes because the Israeli political system is so different from that of the U.S., that the term “left-center” would be the equivalent of “George W. Bush” in America.
“Even if Netanyahu did become prime minister and went further to the left, I mean, it’s going to go no where, the two state system is pretty much dead by now there is no hope for it,” Burnett said. “I’m not hopeful.”
Felix Shoihat, an Israel Fellow at MSU Hillel, visited Israel over winter break. The Israeli native said while many Israeli elections the past were focused on security issues this one was more focused on economic and social issues.
Waltzer said despite the rise of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last fall and tightening Iranian relations, neither paid much a role in this election.
Leaving Israelis less than confident in the reformation of a two state system and fed up with the Palestinian Hamas forces, Waltzer said.
“If they don’t negotiate with the Palestinians then the prospect of a two state solution dies and it’s really on its death nil now,” Waltzer said.
To move forward, Shoihat said he believes Netanyahu will have to address the rise of the right parties and work with international entities, such as the U.S.
“If you take that and mix it with the (pressure) of President Obama, I really want to believe that all of this mess will force (Netanyahu) into making some sort of … negotiation or even decipher a kind of a peace talk,” Shoihat said.