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February 2, 2009
Voters split as Israeli elections approach

Parliamentary elections in Israel are now only eight days away, and the latest polls show the electorate split. Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-leaning Likud party is projected to get 28 seats in the 120-seat parliament, followed by the ruling Kadima party and then the nationalist Israel Beiteinu party.

Alon Ben-Meir,¬†an expert on Middle East politics at New York University’s School of Global Affairs, joins Martin Savidge to discuss how the Gaza conflict will impact the likely outcome of the election, the implications of the nationalist party’s recent gains and the future of U.S.-Israel relations.

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Dear World Focus,

I thank you for the interview with Prof. Alon Ben Meir last night, Mon. 2 Feb. I also thank you for (for once) acknowledging that Hamas attacked Israel first in recent days, and then Israel responded.

Mr. Meir made some good points. But he talked of an Israeli party that “was even more extreme” than Likud. Mr. Savidge talked of strained relations with the US if Bibi Netanyahu becomes Israeli PM.

I am always fascinated by the labels that are applied to Israelis and Palestinians.

Mahmoud Abbas is always called a “moderate” – yet he has consistently stuck to every hardline position of Arafat on refugees, Jerusalem, borders. He has not made a single compromise in his years in office. Moreover, he has consistently made statements that are hostile to every US action in the region and has celebrated US failures, even as he continues to personally profit form the massive aid money delivered by the US. His Palestinian Authority has voted against the US on virtually every issue in international forums, including those that have nothing to do with Israel. His schools and media are often as virulent in their incitement as those of Hamas. In the Arab media, he clearly states that Israel will be demolished step by step, and his maps show all of Israel as part of PA territory.

We are told about “moderate” and “hardline” factions within Hamas, ignoring that all stick to Hamas’ charter, which rivals Mein Kampf.

By contrast, the only Israeli “moderate” in the media’s eyes is one who is prepared to continue to ignore all ongoing the Arab attacks, and make suicidal concessions. Netanyahu is labeled as “hardline” or even “extremist” because he wants to keep Jerusalem unified, and is cautious about making very risky concessions. Ironically, it was Netanyahu who made far reaching concessions at Wye while the Palestinian Authority conceded nothing.

It seems a Palestinian “moderate” is one who only backs suicide bombing in the West Bank now, and destroy Israel bit by bit. An Israeli “hardliner” is one who wants to make sure that Israel will survive.


Your coverage on the Israeli elections was fair and balanced. Keep up the good reporting.


Ben Meir: Is a very poor analyst, lacks the depth of a good expert. Did not explain the situation as he should. failed to talk more about the Israeli right and the danger they represent to the peace process

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