ISRAEL “has been held back” by years of electoral paralysis, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said this week, as the country prepares for its fourth election in under two years.
Israelis go to the ballot box on Tuesday, March 23, with recent polling ambiguous as to the result.
After the last three elections produced two political deadlocks and then a coalition unable to work through its differences, Leibler expressed hope this election “will result in a governing coalition with a clear majority”.
“The threat from COVID hasn’t gone away, and the economic rehabilitation from the pandemic is only just beginning,” he said.
“On top of that, with a fluid security and diplomatic environment, Israel needs a competent government to form as quickly as possible.”
However he said despite its travails, the last government “will be remembered for signing the Abraham Accords and the warm peace with the UAE, in particular, that has followed”.
“I am confident the diplomatic momentum will continue into the new government, whatever its makeup,” he noted.
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) executive director Colin Rubenstein said Israel’s “robust democracy” had successfully weathered a very difficult time over the last two years and would continue to do so even if this election proves as inconclusive as the others.
“Yet AIJAC believes that this round looks different from the past three elections, involving new players and leadership contenders,” he said.
“We are therefore optimistic that Israel is perhaps finally on the road to recovery from its political stalemate, just as it is with respect to the COVID crisis that has gripped the country over the past year.
“We join the vast majority of Israelis in hoping that badly needed, stable and effective government returns after March 23.”
Hoping for a “decisive result and respite from the endless campaigns and elections that have the capacity to fatigue the public and erode confidence in Israel’s political system”, Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-CEO Alex Ryvchin said stable government is crucial to meeting the enormous opportunities and challenges Israel faces.
He identified the persistent national security threats arising from Iran’s belligerence, the need to develop strong bonds with a new US administration, continuing challenges posed by the pandemic, looming skirmishes in the International Criminal Court and other international forums, and the full realisation of the potential benefits of normalisation and the termination of wider Arab–Israeli hostilities as key issues.
“The people of Israel will always be able to count on the support of the Australian Jewish community,” he added.
“Our kinship surpasses any policy or political party or personality and is based on our innate commitment to the cause of Zionism and the unity and strength of the Jewish people it embodies.”
Israeli diplomats posted around the world began voting last week, with Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy in Canberra, Ron Gerstenfeld, casting his vote last Thursday.