WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING- February 12, 2009

A summary of comments on the Israeli election from the Arab media


Israel vote ends in stalemate

The Palestinian Authority expressed dismay at the right’s strong showing. “It’s obvious the Israelis have voted to paralyse the peace process,” senior negotiator Saeb Erakat said. A spokesman for Hamas – the target of Israel’s three-week war on Gaza that killed over 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis – said voters had picked “the most bellicose candidates, those who are the most extremist in their rhetoric” – Gulf Times, Qatar, February, 12, 2009.

Israeli results dismay Palestinians

Palestinians say they are concerned about the future of the Arab-Israeli peace process following the strong showing by right-wing parties in Israel’s parliamentary elections. With hardline leaders gaining a greater say in Israeli politics, officials in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are of the view that a new Israeli government – be it under Tzipi Livni or Benyamin Netanyahu – would make little difference to the Palestinians. “I would tell you, looking very closely at these results, the requirements of peace … cannot be met by any form of coalition as a result of this election,” Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said. The Hamas movement, which has de facto control of the Gaza Strip but is considered to be a “terrorist” group by Israel, said that Israeli voters had elected “extremists”. “This shows that the Zionist voters clearly start choosing the one who is most extreme in his speech, the one who wants war with the Palestinians,” Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas official, said. “This troika, this trio of terrorism of Lieberman, Livni and Netanyahu chose the dramatic development in Israeli society towards terror.” Speaking from Beirut, Osama Hamdan, another senior Hamas official, said “both sides are working against Hamas, against the Palestinians”, but Netanyahu and the right-wing was doing it in a way “that cannot be defended”. – Al Jazeera, Qatar, February 12, 2009.

The end to the two-state solution

Israel is veering dangerously to the right. This is what opinion polls have suggested a few days before yesterday’s national elections. A combination of factors has pushed Israeli voters toward right-wing and ultranationalist parties. An inconclusive war on Gaza, a change of leadership in Washington and a growing Iranian influence in the region have given conservatives and zealots the necessary ammunition to fire up and radicalize the electorate. The elections are a referendum on the two-state solution, which has been on the negotiation table for years. Under the ruling Kadima coalition, the deal, which involves withdrawal from the West Bank and the creation of an independent Palestinian state among other things, floundered. The Bush administration failed to fulfill the president’s vision and pledge to have the state created alongside Israel before the end of last year. – Arab News, Saudi Arabia, February 11, 2009.

Israel election results prove extremist trend

GAZA:  Islamic Jihad prominent leader, Sheikh Nafez Azzam has said that Israeli election results proves that Israeli society is moving towards a more extremist path. “Militancy will undoubtedly prevail in Israeli policy towards Palestinians,” he said. He called for Palestinians to review their positions towards Israel and adopt a coherent policy in the face of the changing Israeli politics. Azzam said Palestinians, now more than ever, need to seek a united stance in the face of threats and challenges, especially in light of the devastating war on Gaza. The Islamic Jihad leader said that the Israel poll results will not change much in regards to Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands regardless of the winner. “Competition is always at the expense of Palestinian blood,” he said. The spokesman of the Islamic Jihad, Dawod Shihab, said that the Palestinians must stop all forms of negotiations with Israel because Israel does not want peace.- Gulfnews, UAE, February 11, 2009.

Arab’s fear rise of hard-right in Israel

CAIRO: Arabs on Wednesday saw little hope for peace from whatever government emerges from Israel’s inconclusive elections, and they expressed fears over the rising power of Israel’s far right. With the prospect of a hard-line Israeli government, some in the region said any progress in Arab-Israeli negotiations will now rely even more on pressure from President Barack Obama, who has said his administration will take an active role in pursuing a Mideast peace. “Everybody knows that peace is in the hands of the Americans, and that the US is capable of practicing pressure on any given government,” said Saudi analyst Anwar Eshki, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah. “Obama promised to achieve peace and he is the one who chose the Palestinian file to be at the top of his foreign policy agenda,” he said.- Daily News, Egypt, February 11, 2009.

Israel’s central role in the resurgence of  ‘antisemitism’

With both leading candidates in Israel’s election claiming victory, the contest for the premiership could continue for days or weeks to come. Given the multiple challenges that currently face the Zionist state, it is a wonder that either Benjamin Netanyahu or Tzipi Livni would keep fighting for the job. Perhaps the most daunting challenge that awaits whoever becomes the next prime minister is the need to contend with the fact that the Jewish state, and indeed all members of the Jewish faith, are facing unprecedented animosity around the globe.- The Daily Star, Lebanon, February 12, 2009.

Palestinians dismayed by Israel’s turn to the right

RAMALLAH: Palestinians expressed dismay on Tuesday following Israel’s election that looked to shift the country further to the right and further dampen hopes for a peace deal. Although the centrist Kadima party of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni — who has been leading peace talks with the Palestinians for over a year — won the most seats, right-wing parties made major gains, according to exit polls. And due to the byzantine nature of Israeli politics, Likud party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu could still become prime minister at the head of a right-wing coalition reluctant to pursue a two-state solution to the conflict. “It’s obvious the Israelis have voted to paralyse the peace process,” senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP. “The outcome of the Israeli elections indicates there won’t be in Israel a government capable of doing what is needed to achieve peace,” he said.- Times of Oman, February 11, 2009.

Few Peacemakers in Israel’s Knesset

Israelis have had their say at the polls, and now it is up to the world, and particularly the Obama administration, to respond. Thirty-three parties ran for the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), ranging from the well-known Kadima, Likud and Labour to a variety of lesser known parties that ran on an array of platforms from the rights of the disabled to legalizing cannabis. However, only twelve parties managed to garner enough votes to secure seats in the Knesset. The incoming Knesset will have a solid right-wing bloc, made up of Likud with twenty-seven seats, Yisrael Beiteinu with fifteen seats, two ultra-Orthodox parties with sixteen seats and two smaller nationalist parties with seven seats. This bloc has four more than the sixty-one-seat threshold needed to form a coalition. The center bloc was able to muster forty-one seats. This bloc consists of Kadima with twenty-eight seats and Labour with thirteen seats. The remaining fourteen seats were won by liberal, leftist and Arab national parties. The results clearly testify to the fact that a large majority of the elected politicians are against an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement based on the two-state solution. Moreover, some parties have blatant neo-fascist tendencies. Yisrael Beiteinu, for example, ran under the banner of “no citizenship without loyalty,” and would like to strip any person who is critical of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians of their citizenship.- The Palestine Chronicle, February 11, 2009.


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