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ISRAEL/ Herzog (Haaretz): Between the Israeli elections and the possibilities for Syria after Assad

MICHAEL HERZOG discusses the upcoming elections in Israel, who is likely to win, and what they will mean for the rest of the region, focusing especially on the ongoing war in Syria

Netanyahu   (Infophoto) Netanyahu (Infophoto)

Still 15 days until the elections in Israel. The incumbent Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is clearly the favorite in the opinion polls. The proportional electoral system used in the Jewish state does, however, mean that his coalition in the government has yet to be decided. If the the right should win, a possibility supported by the latest data, Israeli policy towards Iran and the Palestinian Authority could undergo a change. Meanwhile, in neighboring Syria, the death toll, according to UN calculations, has reached 60 thousand since the beginning of the conflict. Ilsussidiario.net interviewed Michael Herzog, an Israeli international fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the author of commentaries for the newspaper Haaretz.

What will change for the Middle East after the Israeli elections of January 22?
Like all elections, it will be very important for the future of Israel and the whole region, but the answer to your question depends on what the exact results will be. In Israel, it is now taken for granted that Prime Minister Netanyahu will form the next government and will continue to be at the head of the Council of Ministers. What matters is actually what the exact composition of the majority will be. Will it be made up of only the parties of the right, or will it include some of the center and left of the center, which would balance the composition and policies of the next government? Two weeks before the vote, it is still impossible to predict the result in detail.

What can we expect from Israel in 2013?
2013 will be a year full of challenges for Israel and the entire Middle East. Many important questions could be decided, including those concerning Iran. The new Israeli government will thus have a key role, but at the same time we must not exaggerate the influence of Israel in all that is happening around us. The Arab Spring, for example, has nothing to do with Israel, but was born out of motivations inside individual States and the Jewish state does not have much influence over the course of events.

What do you think of the proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by giving the West Bank over to Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip to Egypt?