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Israel election may define 2013

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Israeli parliamentary election on 22 January is ostensibly a political contest between the left and the right, as it is in many countries throughout the world.

However, the election result in Israel also has serious implications for the Middle East and beyond.

Pundits are predicting that Benjamin Netanyahu will remain as Prime Minister.


A poll late last year showed a surge in support for several of the parties regarded as far right and which are likely to join in coalition with the Likud party led by Mr Netanyahu.

During his campaign speech last month Prime Minister Netanyahu put the issue of Iran as a top priority stating, "First and foremost we must stop Iran's nuclear programme, and the time for that is slipping away. That is my first mission as prime minister."

Mr Netanyahu may be alluding to strengthening the sanctions that have had a major impact on Iranian oil revenues and caused significant economic hardship within Iran, although the sanctions regime has done little to slow its nuclear program.

It is equally likely his statement is referring to potential Israeli military strikes against key facilities within Iran.

Israel has taken such action in the past including the destruction in 1981 of a nuclear reactor under construction by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and strikes against a suspected nuclear facility in Syria in 2007.

More recently a suspected arms factory in Sudan was destroyed during a night bombing raid, with Sudanese authorities pointing the finger at Israel.


For many years the Israeli government has been concerned about Iran's nuclear program exacerbated by the repeated threats from Iran's leaders to destroy Israel.

It was clear late last year that Israel believed Iran was close to crossing or indeed had crossed what it terms the "red lines" that should trigger a military response.

A serious complicating factor is that Israel faces significant logistical hurdles to mounting such strikes from its territory.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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