Friday, November 24, 2017

Israelis are expected to re-elect Benjamin Netanyahu

RECOMMENDED READING


JERUSALEM — Benjamin Netanyahu seems poised for re-election as Israel's prime minister in today's voting, the result of the failure of his opponents to unite behind a viable candidate against him — and the fact that most Israelis no longer seem to believe it's possible to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians.

The widely held assumption of a victory by Netanyahu comes despite his grim record: There is no peace process, there is growing diplomatic isolation and a slowing economy, and his main ally has been forced to step down as foreign minister because of corruption allegations.

Even so, Netanyahu has managed to convince many Israelis that he offers a respectable choice by projecting experience, toughness and great powers of communication in both native Hebrew and flawless American English.

He was also handed a gift by the opposition. Persistent squabbling among an array of parties in the moderate camp has made this the first election in decades without two clear opposing candidates for prime minister. Even Netanyahu's opponents have suggested his victory is inevitable.

"His rivals are fragmented," said Yossi Sarid, a dovish former Cabinet minister who now writes a column for the Haaretz newspaper.

The confusion and hopelessness that now characterize the issue of peace with the Palestinians has cost the moderates their historical campaign focus.

Many Israelis are disillusioned with the bitter experience of Israel's unilateral pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005 that led to years of violence. Others believe Israel's best possible offers have been made and rejected, concluding that they cannot meet the Palestinians' minimal demands.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that in 2008 he offered the Palestinians roughly 95 percent of the West Bank and additional territory from Israel in a "land swap." He also said he offered shared control of Jerusalem, including its holy sites. The Palestinians have disputed some of his account and suggested they could not close a deal with a leader who was by then a lame duck.

"There can't be peace because we've tried everything already, said Eli Tzarfati, a 51-year-old resident of the northern town of Migdal Haemek.

A poll conducted last week in Israel by the New Wave Polling Research Institute found that 52 percent of respondents support the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as part of a peace agreement. Yet 62 percent said they do not believe the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is a partner for peace — and an identical number said it is not possible to reach a peace agreement.

Comments
The Latest: Zimbabwe's new leader seeks international help

The Latest: Zimbabwe's new leader seeks international help

The Latest: Zimbabwe's new leader asks 'those who have punished us in the past to reconsider'
Updated: 6 minutes ago

Three Egyptian security officials say militant attack on mosque in northern Sinai leaves dozens of casualties

Three Egyptian security officials say militant attack on mosque in northern Sinai leaves dozens of casualties
Updated: 9 minutes ago

AP Top News at 6:36 a.m. EST

AP Top News at 6:36 a.m. EST
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Irish government faces crisis at crunch time for Brexit

Irish government faces crisis at crunch time for Brexit

Ireland's government is at risk of collapse, three weeks before a European Union summit is due to make crucial decisions about Brexit
Updated: 15 minutes ago

'All foreign investment will be safe in Zimbabwe,' new president Mnangagwa declares

'All foreign investment will be safe in Zimbabwe,' new president Mnangagwa declares
Updated: 16 minutes ago

Interpol: 40 human traffickers arrested, 236 children saved

International police agency Interpol says 40 suspected human traffickers have been arrested and nearly 500 of their victims freed in a vast police operation in five African countries
Updated: 16 minutes ago

Zimbabwe's new president: 'We ask those who have punished us in the past to reconsider'

Zimbabwe's new president: 'We ask those who have punished us in the past to reconsider'
Updated: 19 minutes ago
The Latest: Zimbabwe's new leader vows to tackle corruption

The Latest: Zimbabwe's new leader vows to tackle corruption

The Latest: Zimbabwe's new leader vows to tackle corruption, revive devastated economy
Updated: 21 minutes ago
After weeks of deals, stores aim to draw Black Friday crowds

After weeks of deals, stores aim to draw Black Friday crowds

Retailers kick off holiday shopping season with an eye toward wooing shoppers away from rivals
Updated: 28 minutes ago

"Grand coalition" again up for discussion in Germany

Germany's president is inviting the Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the center-left Social Democrats for joint talks on the possibility on the forming a new government
Updated: 1 hour ago