Israel in the News Aug/Sep 1996
Right wing, religious parties sweep to power in upset win. Netanyahu vows to continue peace process.
(from the Jerusalem Post)
The Likud-led government voted into power will continue the peace process, honor Israel’s international commitments, and strive to heal rifts in the country, Prime Minister-elect Binyamin Netanyahu said in a statement [after the recent election].
Netanyahu spoke to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Hussein to assure them of his intention to pursue the peace process. He also had a senior aide contact the PLO, to convey the same message.
Netanyahu won the closest race in Israel’s history, receiving 50.49% of the total vote, while Prime Minister Shimon Peres received 49.51%, 30,000 less votes than his challenger.
In general, the bigger parties lost votes to the smaller ones. Labor was pared down from 44 to 34, and the Likud and Tsomet from 40 to 32.
The religious parties amassed an unprecedented 25 mandates. The closest they ever came to this was 18 in 1988.
Netanyahu did not have any trouble forming a coalition with the religious bloc, Natan Sharansky’s Ysrael Ba’aliya and the Third Way. Netanyahu aide Danny Naveh issued a statement in his boss’s name, saying that “Netanyahu feels deeply committed to the peace with security process [begun] with all of Israel’s neighbors, including the Palestinians, and to deepening peace with those Arab states with whom peaceful relations already exist.”
According to the statement, Netanyahu “is concerned about the widening rift and polarization in the nation” and “feels his first duty is to foster a sense of unity.”
Peres…congratulated Netanyahu and wished him the best in his new role.
Netanyahu thanked Peres and expressed “appreciation for all the great things you have done for this country.” He expressed confidence that “our personal friendship will continue,” and added, “we have only one country and the same wish for peace.
US President Bill Clinton … Hussein and Mubarak also called Netanyahu to congratulate him.
UK pushed to curb Hamas
Britain is coming under increasing pressure from Israel to curb the activities of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, following allegations the groups are using London as an operational center. These suspicions were confirmed when Ramadan Shallah was appointed to replace the slain Fathi Shkaki as head of the Islamic Jihad movements. According to the London Sunday Telegraph, Shallah used his studies [at Britain’s Durham University] as a cover for coordinating Islamic Jihad activities in the Middle East, citing a confession by Shallah’s brother, Omar, who is currently serving a life sentence in Israel for terror offenses.
France granting humanitarian aid to Hizbullah
France is extending “humanitarian aid” to Lebanon through Hizbullah, citing the fact that Hisbullah performs humanitarian services, Channel 1 reported. Meanwhile, President Jacques Chirac said France’s renewed commitment to Lebanon was demonstrated by a shipment of equipment [recently] to help repair power stations hit by the IDF during Operation Grapes of Wrath.