Jerusalem voters uninspired by campaigns

Faced with a likely continuation of the status quo in Israeli elections, many voters are unenthusiastic about the poll.


    Jerusalem -
    With voting less than a week away, average Israelis in this city have yet to catch political fever. With Binyamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister, nearly certain to retain his post, many voters are feeling uninspired about their political class.

    With no movement on peace talks with the Palestinians, the perennial issue for Israel, and the continued construction of illegal settlements undermining any hopes for a Palestinian state, most voters feel like the status quo of occupation will continue regardless of the next government's political composition. Economically, rising prices and high rents are irking the middle classes, but "security" is still the main issue preoccupying Israeli voters.

    Al Jazeera's Chris Arsenault spoke with Israelis in Jerusalem, a city known to be more conservative than the business hub of Tel Aviv, to get their views on the January 22 vote.

    Chaim Israel, retired school principal, drinking coffee in Jerusalem mall

    "I know exactly what the result will be and the people will continue moving to the right.

    "If the left-wing is gaining power, that is dangerous for the state. We are surrounded by enemies; there won't be peace.

    "We [Jews] will continue to be here because that is what was written in the scriptures. The economy is part of security. They go together; you cannot have them separately."



    Lee and Reut, army conscripts, shopping on Ben Yehuda street

    "I think the economy is the most important issue; lately prices have been going up. Security and education are also important.

    "None of the parties can address these issues. Every party has good points and wrong points.

    "There is no one party that can do everything and they all just talk and talk.

    "I feel that the young people are more left-wing rather than right-wing.

    "There won't be peace with the Palestinians."

    David Kazanovich, emergency services worker, shopping for children's toys

    "The biggest issue is always security and territory.

    "Many people don't understand the fact that peace with the Palestinians is impossible. The number one cultural idea for Muslims is honour and for them the land is honour and they will not lose that.

    "There is no way to end the conflict, you can only manage the conflict.

    "Since 2003, they [Palestinians] have lived their own lives and have civilian control to elect their leaders and we have retained military control.

    "They [Palestinians] won't give up on the right of return [for refugees to historic Palestine]. No matter what we give them, it will never be enough."

    Marav and Danielle, kindergarden teachers

    "The biggest issue is that there is no-one to vote for - there is no-one good, only [politicians] who are less bad.

    "The biggest issue is to elect someone who will take care of both the economy and security. There is no party that is really in the centre.

    "I feel like we don't have any politicians who have a spine. If I could take pieces from [the platforms] of each party, that would be amazing."


    Nariman Bajes, tourism promoter, shopping on Ben Yehuda street

    "I am from East Jerusalem; I cannot vote.

    "The Palestinians don't care about this election. It won't change anything.

    "Ten years ago, I worked for the Jerusalem mayor's office as a translator in Arabic. No-one called.

    "After we became a minority in our own country everything seems to help the same Israeli goals."

    Bajes asked that we protect her identity in her photo. 

    Nachum Shaulo, student and house-painter, walking home from work

    "I was in the army for four years; it's difficult to live here with our situation.

    "I will choose a government that will put security first and after that the economy - like the rest of the world.

    "I don't know which leader is better for security - maybe Netanyahu?

    "I really want to have peace, but it's difficult." 



    Follow Chris Arsenault on Twitter as he reports on the build-up to Israel's election: @AJEchris

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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