Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

January 30, 2009--Mitchell Completes Visit, Spanish Government Promises to Change Law

Senator George Mitchell completed his visit to the Middle East today after meeting with Netanyahu. After the meeting he said he would be back after the elections. He stated that that there were substantial hurdles standing in the way of reaching an agreement. He did not have to spend a week in the Middle East to come to that conclusion.

Today the Spanish government promised to take action to end indictment against Israeli officials. They promised to change the law in Spain, in the same way Belgium changes its laws a few years ago. The Spanish decision mirrored public opinion in Spain that may not be particularly pro Israel, but resented the use of the Spanish courts for use by outside parties in political disputes.

The police have indicated that they have enough evidence to seek an indictment against MK Avigdor Lieberman. Reportedly, the charges will be the most severe ever charged against an Israeli politician. According to reports the police will make their recommendation to the attorney general within two months. That's two months after the elections. The pace and direction of the Israeli judicial system continues to amaze me.

There was an interesting piece on the Israeli Arab participation in election on Israeli television recently that I thought would share. In the early years of the state the Arabs participation in elections was similar to the Jewish participation: 80+ percent. This was during the time of a military administration of the Arab areas. In the last election it was 56%. Arabs make up 18% of the population of Israel, but they make up 13% of the electorate. This statistic is due to the young age of the average Arab Israeli.

In past elections the vote in the Arab sector has been divided evenly between three parties. The first and oldest is Chadash, the communist party that has its routes as far back as the mandatory eras. While almost all of its voters today are Arab, it strives for Jewish Arab coexistence and always makes sure it has a Jew on its list. The second party is Balad, which is a Pan Arab party. It is an interesting hold out for an ideology that barely exists in the Arab world at this point. The final party is Ram Tal, which is the Islamic party. The Arab parties together receive about 70% of the Arab vote with the rest going to Jewish or what is called the "Zionist parties".