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13th Aug 2022

EU urges Israel to stick to peace process

The Czech EU presidency has urged any future Israeli government to stick to the two-state solution on Palestine, amid concern in Europe that a new right-wing coalition could complicate the Middle East peace process.

"The presidency encourages the incoming Israeli government to pursue all efforts leading towards the creation of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security," the Czech statement said.

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  • A UN building in Gaza on fire - the elections were held in the shadow of recent violence (Photo: Oxfam)

Israeli elections on Tuesday (10 February) saw the centrist Kadima party led by current foreign minister Tzipi Livni take the most seats overall.

But it was the right wing of the Knesset that was the big winner from the poll, with the Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas parties making strong gains, and with a rightist coalition capable of taking power led by traditional right-wing party Likud if the extreme-right but secular Yisrael Beiteinu and ultra-orthodox Shas groups see eye to eye.

Shas supports expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land, while Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman advocates that Israeli Arabs be made to take loyalty oaths or be stripped of their citizenship and "transferred" to the Palestine Authority.

Labour, the centre-left party of Israel's establishment and the key party that oversaw the founding of the Israeli state, had its worst showing ever, coming in fourth place with just 19 seats.

A centre-left coalition led by Kadima and Labour would be possible, but only with the backing of Meretz, a small, left-of-Labour party and the three Arab parties, United Arab List–Ta'al, Hadash and Balad. Kadima and Labour however refuse to work with Israeli Arab political parties, and they, for their part, have said they will not back Ms Livni after the war on Gaza.

"The whole [of] Israeli society has taken a step to the right and a more military direction," University of Oslo historian Hilde Henriksen Waage told AP on the implications of the Israeli vote.

"It's not good for the peace process," University of London foreign policy expert Mike Williams said.

The election was held in the shadow of the recent Gaza conflict. Gaza militants on Wednesday fired four mortar shells at the western Negev region. A Qassam rocket also hit a field near the Israeli town of Sderot on Tuesday.

Palestinian officials said Israeli forces killed over 1,300 people in the recent Gaza fighting, including 900 civilians of whom 410 were children. Fourteen Israelis lost their lives.

The violence saw the EU put talks over upgrading relations with Israel on hold, as well as mass street protests against Israeli actions in several European cities.

Twenty three percent overall of people in Germany, France, the UK, Spain, Poland, Austria and Hungary said that Israeli state actions have influenced their opinion of Jewish people in a poll by the US-based Anti Defamation League out this week.

Of those, 58 percent said their opinion of Jewish people became worse.

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