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Israeli Elections 2006
In 2003, after running on a platform explicitly opposing withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister in the biggest landslide in Israeli history. Less than one year later, Sharon took an abrupt 180 degree turn and embraced what became known as 'the Disengagement'-Israel's withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip and a large swath of land in Northern Samaria. Three short months after the Disengagement was complete, Sharon's government fell, dashing his hopes of completing his full four year term. After the fall of his government, Sharon opted to create a new, centrist party--Kadima--with the stated goals of finalizing Israel's borders and reforming the system of government.
Shortly after forming Kadima, Sharon suffered a mild stroke. He was soon released from the hospital and back to work. However, two weeks later, he suffered a massive stroke and has been incapacitated ever since. It is clear that he will not return to the political arena. In his stead, Ehud Olmert has assumed the position of Acting Prime Minister and leader of the Kadima party. Olmert has thus far been praised, for his steady hand, but his leadership has yet to be challenged by any significant event. The unofficial grace period on campaigning in the wake of Sharon's stroke is gradually eroding and the campaign is sure to heat-up.
To Kadima's left, stands a newly emboldened Labor Party led by former union leader Amir Peretz whose populist message is aimed at rallying workers hit hardest by Israel's recent recession and economic reforms. To the right, opponents of Sharon's territorial compromise are scrambling to find a leader and a message that will resonate with the broader Israeli electorate. Newly elected Likud leader, and former Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu hopes to step into this leadership void to lead the Right and assume the premiership.
Time To Choose...Again
With these issues--peace, security, the economy and more--facing Israelis, the country is scheduled to go to the polls on March 28, 2006. This site provides you an opportunity to learn about the issues facing the Israeli electorate as well as the political parties running for election. Although only Israeli citizens can officially vote in these elections, your participation is an affirmation of the democratic values upon which the State of Israel was founded.
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