Israel Elections 2013
Community post-election forum
Who won, and what does it mean?
While many people across the world have taken interest and sides in Israel’s peace process with the Palestinians, Israel’s voters for the first time in 65 years chose their government based on other, mostly domestic and economic issues, according to Jerusalem Post Chief Political Correspondent Gil Hoffman and AIJAC Policy Analyst Or Avi-Guy during a post-Israeli election community forum, 30 January in Melbourne.
Hoffman, who spoke via phone from Israel only hours before he addressed the European Union Parliament, described how Israel’s election was proof that Israel was maturing as a country. “This election was about us trying to find our place, that we’re not going to have other countries tell us what we’re going to be,” Hoffman said. “We’re not waiting to see where our final border will be. This has never happened before. In past elections, there have been only two issues: war and peace.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was charged with forming a majority coalition, a group of parties that both Hoffman and Avi-Guy said would be as broad as possible.
“Coalitions aren’t formed on how well people get along, only on political interests,” Avi-Guy said, referring to the rumoured personal disputes among Netanyahu, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennet and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, who are all expected to be in the ruling coalition.
Concerning negotiations with the Palestinians, an issue that the international community has been highly critical of Israel’s perceived inaction, Israel’s political parties addressed the Palestinians only briefly during the campaign. Hoffman and Avi-Guy both stated that peace won’t be decided by Israel. Hoffman said that United States President Barack Obama “stepped into every possible puddle” during his first term, including not visiting Israel and focusing attention on the settlements in the West Bank.
Zionist Federation of Australia President Philip Chester and Zionist Council of Victoria President Sam Tatarka moderated the forum.
“This election shows the inner sensibility of the Israeli electorate,” Chester said in his concluding remarks. “Israelis don’t fall into the classic stereotypes or ‘left’ and ‘right’. They want checks and balances, and it’s a self-correcting process. They want something in the middle, which has something from both sides represented.”