Monitor: Israeli comment on Ehud Barak's landslide victory in the general elections

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The Independent Culture
ISRAEL'S SHIFT of power from the Likud to Labour's successor, One Israel, happened because of a protest vote against Benjamin Netanyahu, mainly due to his personality and style, rather than because of love of Ehud Barak. Barak's 12 per cent advantage over Netanyahu is impressive and significant, but a mere 6 per cent of voters upset the even balance of 1996 between Netanyahu and Shimon Peres. The 6 per cent consisted of disappointed Likud voters, whose party Netanyahu shredded to bits, new immigrants who hold Netanyahu responsible for the difficult economic situation and new voters avenging the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. There was a great deal of spontaneity and symbolism in the convergence of tens of thousands of people on the square where Rabin was assassinated, when the results were announced, followed by Barak's victory address, facing the statue in commemoration of the late Prime Minister.


A VICTORY for Barak will have proven that the majority of Israelis were not prepared to believe Netanyahu's empty slogans, and that futile cliches on peace and security are no longer so tempting. Peace is a vital element of security and to attain peace, compromise must be reached. There can be no peace without compromise and without peace there will never be real security.

Jerusalem Post (Yossi Beilin)

THE WOUNDS caused by Benjamin Netanyahu's three years in the prime minister's office will not heal easily. Israeli society is thirstier than ever before for a credible, sober and moderate leadership that will work to repair the rifts and bring back the balance between the public's various groups and sectors under a broad umbrella of basic agreements. Clearly, a large portion of the public understands this and voted in this spirit. Even if the assumption that there is a draw between the right and left-wing camps is true, it would appear that the desire to unseat Netanyahu and to diffuse tensions have given hope to the rise of a fit leadership.