Change of government a possibility in Israel
Israelis go to the polls today, Tuesday, to elect a new parliament. Opinion polls put the centre-left alliance under Isaac Herzog ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party. Some commentators see Netanyahu under pressure because he has failed in foreign policy. Others point out that Netanyahu has little grasp of the people's day-to-day concerns.
Israel deserves new leadership
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed in foreign policy and should be voted out, the conservative daily The Times believes: "Negotiations now appear uncomfortably deadlocked. That is not Mr Netanyahu's fault alone, but his election campaign has focused on foreign policy and his record hardly merits unreserved support. His recent visit to Washington, invited not by the White House but by the Republican Speaker of the House, was emblematic of his flawed approach. There is no sense in making support for the Jewish state a party issue, rather than a bipartisan cause. ... Mr Netanyahu's record in office has been undistinguished. Israel, a beacon of democratic values in a dangerous region, deserves new leadership."
Netanyahu perhaps replaceable after all
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dissolved the coalition in December he had no problems with the idea of new elections because he was sure he was irreplaceable, the liberal business paper Hospodářské noviny recalls:"The Israelis thought that no one was as experienced and able to stand up to Iran, the IS, Hamas and Hezbollah. But then Netanyahu's certainty that he was unbeatable began to annoy the Israelis. ... A large number of people are beset by economic worries, and suffer above all from high rents. Many have the impression that Netanyahu has no understanding for such problems. In addition the left has been able to sow doubt that only Netanyahu could protect Israel from foreign threats. His arrogance has brought relations with Europe - and above all to the US - to a standstill. ... According to the last opinion polls Likud is in for a beating. Of course, it's not over till it's over. But in any case Netanyahu's position seems badly shaken."
Security not at all the top priority
Netanyahu's challengers have good prospects of success because they seem to care more about the concerns and needs of the people, writes the liberal daily Público: "Netanyahu is trying to secure a fourth term by emphasizing the threat posed by Iran and Islamist groups. ... His rivals Tzipi Livni of the liberal Hatnua party and Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union are focussing on social issues. A poll by The Guardian recently showed that more than 50 percent see the cost of living as the top priority over security. ... And also as far as the omnipresent Palestine question is concerned, Livni and Herzog are gaining ground. Both see the resumption of direct dialogue with the Palestinians as a chance - contrary to Netanyahu, who has once again ruled out a two-state solution with an unequivocal 'no'."
Arab Joint List a force to be reckoned with
The fact that the Joint (Arab) List is also taking part in the Israeli elections and may actually be able to influence the formation of government is remarkable, the conservative daily Svenska Dagbladet concludes: "Four very different parties - communists, anti-Zionists, Arab nationalists and the Islamic Movement - have joined forces to overcome the 3.25 percent hurdle for entering parliament. Together these parties have turned into a genuine power factor. In practice it may be difficult to see how such a compromise can work, but at least in theory the MPs of the Joint List could actually become kingmakers once the votes are counted. That's fantastic."