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Main focus of Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Netanyahu wins and loses

Netanyahu's alliance will only have half of the seats in the new Knesset. (© AP/dapd)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing block Likud Beiteinu obtained the most votes in Israel's general election on Tuesday. However compared to the last vote it suffered considerable losses. Netanyahu has shot himself in the foot by bringing the election forward, commentators say, noting that the new distribution of power in the Knesset also holds little hope for the Middle East peace process."

La Liberté - Switzerland

Israel lacks leaders of stature

While Netanyahu's right-wing alliance Likud Beiteinu looks set to have lost 11 of its 42 seats in the parliamentary elections, the new liberal party Yesh Atid and the new ultra-right-wing party The Jewish Home made considerable gains with 19 and 17 mandates respectively. The regional paper La Liberté fears that courageous decisions will be few and far between in this fragmented party landscape: "On the day after the parliamentary elections in Israel, the political landscape seems even more chaotic and disunited than ever. Netanyahu is a bad tactician who has trapped himself in his own net, left looking like a leader who was only elected because of the lack of better alternatives. The prime minister is now forced to put together a coalition of small parties, and looks more like their hostage than their mentor. These elections confirm the disappearance of any and every 'vision' at the leadership level since the abrupt end of Ariel Scharon's term in office seven years ago. ... Jerusalem has never recovered from the disappearance of its historic leadership figures, people who would be able to induce the country to push ahead with enduring and consequently painful reforms." (23/01/2013)

Corriere della Sera - Italy

Netanyahu's strategy backfires

Following the election in Israel, a deadlock is emerging in the Knesset: both Netanyahu's incumbent right-wing alliance Likud Beiteinu and the centre-left camp can reckon with 60 mandates. The prime minister miscalculated the situation, writes the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera: "Benjamin Netanyahu brought forward the election to ensure he would win. Now he has won, but it looks more like he lost. His role has suddenly been encumbered, because the real protagonists of this political earthquake are not Netanyahu and his ultra-nationalist alliance partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, but three new leading figures. … The process of 'scrapping', of getting rid of the old cadre of politicians, has not yet begun, but the message from the polling stations leaves little room for doubt. The Likud party has not gained the least advantage from its alliance with Lieberman [and his Israel Beitenu party]. Joining forces doesn't always make you stronger, sometimes it can have a weakening effect." (23/01/2013)

Die Tageszeitung taz - Germany

Israeli centre party not for peace either

The new liberal Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party under former TV presenter Yair Lapid came a surprising second in Israel's parliamentary elections. Despite this strong showing for the centre party, the left-leaning daily taz sees no hope for peace negotiations with the Palestinians: "Lapid, who has no foreign policy programme on the Palestinians, Iran or Syria, positions himself slightly to the right. It's no coincidence that he kicked off his election campaign in the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Concessions to the Palestinians are not a priority for him, since he prefers to concentrate his efforts as a strong coalition partner on countering the ultra-Orthodox conservatives. ... But Lapid's second place has only apparently slowed the shift to the right in Israel. At the end of the day, the right-wing parties that openly or covertly reject the two-state solution achieved a clear points victory. Neither peace nor an end to the settlement policy is in sight. All we can expect is more settlers moving into the West Bank and settling on Palestinian land." (23/01/2013)

Magyar Narancs - Hungary

Left has nothing to counter Netanyahu with

The political Left in Israel is too weak and too fragmented to pose a real threat to the Right and Prime Minister Netanyahu, journalist Attila Ara-Kovács writes in the left-liberal weekly newspaper Magyar Narancs: "The centre-left party Kadima, which until now has been Netanyahu's biggest adversary, has disintegrated into no less than eight separate factions that prefer fighting each other over combating the Right. ... For many observers, the lack of unity on the Left has to do with the fact that the various splitter groups were ultimately more interested in winning a few seats in parliament than in joining forces to defeat Netanyahu. The Left lacks not only charismatic politicians but also a convincing ideology and a clear political goal." (21/01/2013)

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