Analysis: Israel must change its electoral system

By David Newman, February 19, 2009

There is only one certainty that has emerged from last week’s elections in Israel. We badly need serious electoral reform to allow a system which will enable the establishment of a government within days of the polls. It has to be a government which can rule the country for four years, until the next scheduled elections, and which can focus on the urgent issues of security, peace, education and welfare without spending most of its time in machinations aimed at keeping a slender majority together.


Analysis: A glimmer of hope amid the political paralysis

By Lawrence Freedman, February 12, 2009

Israeli elections often seem to achieve little more than to set the terms for the next one, and the election of February 2009 is no exception.

The most likely prospect is of paralysis followed by instability. Whether the eventual coalition is narrowly rightist, a grand affair of the leading parties, or an arrangement of disparate parties across the spectrum, it will be a matter of time before some hard choice has to be faced and the act of choosing will cause the coalition to split.


Analysis: Lieberman could still lose

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 12, 2009

President Shimon Peres, during his visit to Britain three months ago, spent a good deal of his time reassuring senior British politicians and opinion-makers that a Likud government with Binyamin Netanyahu at its helm would not automatically mean the end of Israel’s involvement in the peace process.

That was before the surge of Yisrael Beitenu in the polls and Avigdor Lieberman’s emergence as the new kingmaker of Israelis politics. Now the urbane Netanyahu with his American-accented English seems almost cuddly by comparison.


Analysis: Obama knows Likud’s power

By Shmuel Rosner, February 12, 2009

The Obama administration wanted a decisive Kadima victory, putting Tzipi Livni at the helm of Israel’s next coalition. But just as Israelis want the next government to be a unity one, so the nascent US administration, patiently waiting for its Israeli partner, feels that such an outcome would be tolerable.


Analysis: Arab view bleaker than ever

By Ben Lynfield, February 12, 2009

Whatever coalition emerges from this week’s election, the new government’s tenure promises to be a bleak period with scant progress towards a negotiated solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to analysts on both sides of the divide.

The election is part of a process under way since the breakdown of the Camp David talks in 2000 in which hard-liners on both sides are fuelling each other. The intifada brought Ariel Sharon to power, while Sharon’s policies contributed to the victory of Hamas in the January 2006 Palestinian elections.


Analysis: Time to overhaul the voting system

By Jeff Barak, February 12, 2009

Although he is likely to become Israel’s next prime minister, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu in essence lost this week’s elections. A month ago, Likud enjoyed a double-digit lead over Kadima and it seemed as if the only problem Netanyahu would face would be who to not include in his coalition. Now, if Netanyahu is to return to the Prime Minister’s Office, he has no choice but to form, at least initially, the most right-wing government in Israel’s history — regardless of his own preference for a more centrist coalition based on a national unity government.


Analysis: The world is willfully blind to these crimes

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, February 12, 2009

For a brief time last week, UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, had a “man bites dog” moment. UNRWA’s protest against Hamas’ looting of its warehouses — to supply Hamas’ own supporters or profiteer on the black market — was unprecedented, especially coming on the heels of another admission: that the terrible incident at the Al-Fakhura school near Jabaliya, on 6 January, had been misrepresented.


Analysis: Should Israel swap one man for many?

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 12, 2009

The impending deal over the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners — many serving life sentences for terror — to secure the return of Gilad Shilat, touches upon one of the most sensitive points in the collective Israeli psyche.

It also an issue with immense political, security and social ramifications, whether in terms of the price being paid for his release, or the implications of allowing him to continue languishing in captivity.

Rami Igra, the former head of Mossad’s Prisoners and MIAs department, opposes such deals.


Analysis: EU wants to talk to Hamas

By Daniella Peled, February 5, 2009

So there is “no ambiguity” in US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s position toward Hamas. The same, however, cannot be said for other international players, whose attitude to the militant group is getting ever more creative. And European equivocation, according to Israeli officials, is reaching an extremely concerning point.

An indication can be found in the monthly statements of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, where EU Foreign Ministers discuss topical issues and produce a declaration on Israel-Palestine.


Seeds sown for a Green surprise

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 5, 2009

Every Israeli election throws up a host of unlikely political mutations — the result of attempts to cross the electoral threshold and gain a seat in the Knesset. Next week’s polls will be no exception.