With 2014 in the past, Israel has a lot to look forward to, and be cautious about, in 2015. Last year featured memorable events such as continued exploration of the Leviathian gas field, the election of Reuven Rivlin as president, and Lady Gaga and the Rolling Stones stealing the show in Tel Aviv. 2014 had its ups and downs, as the year was marred by conflict with the Palestinians in the West Bank as well as Hamas in Gaza. In 2015, conflicts from inside and out are likely to continue in Israel. It is how Israel deals with its respective conflicts, in the face of a vital election, which will determine how 2015 fares for the Jewish State.
The March 2015 election will certainly be one to watch, as Benjamin Netanyahu looks to hang onto his role as Prime Minister of Israel. Netanyahu has done an excellent job defending Israel and maintaining an iron fist in the face of hatred, terrorism and adversity. The way he handled Operation Protective Edge and the surge in violence in Jerusalem has been incredible, and leaders such as Barack Obama and David Cameron should learn from Bibi to have a more iron fisted approach to enemies who threaten our respective countries and cultures. However, this election is different. National security and defense has taken a back seat to cost of living issues and Israel’s slowing economy. Benjamin Netanyahu, as great of a leader as he is, has not properly addressed Israel’s slowing economy and high cost of living issues. Not only has Israel’s economy slowed to 2.2% in 2014 from an impressive 3.2% growth rate in 2013, but high prices of food and housing has prompted many Israelis to feel the brunt of the recent economic downturn.
Enter Moshe Kahlon and Yair Lapid. While the Kulanu and Yesh Atid leaders respectively have not joined an electoral alliance together, if they were to join, then Israel’s younger, secular and more centrist voters will definitely push to propel a more liberal faction into power, ousting Netanyahu. Kulanu and Yesh Atid are both centrist parties focusing on economic issues. According to an Israeli government survey conducted last June, 47% of Israelis were not satisfied with their personal economic situation. This means that 47% of disgruntlement could be turned into votes which could cause a political earthquake in Israel. Moshe Kahlon, Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog must capitalize on economic issues by providing pragmatic alternatives, such as raising wages, to Netanyahu’s erroneous inaction to address Israel’s skyrocketing costs of living.
A more dangerous threat looming for Israel in 2015 is Palestinian terrorism and Palestinian ascension as a major player on the world stage. The barbaric attacks on Jews by Palestinians in Jerusalem in October and November have to a degree died down, however are not going away as long as Palestinian extremism exists everywhere. The Har Nof synagogue massacre and the sickening firebombing of a Jewish father and daughter in the West Bank are recent assaults that hit very close to home for Jewish Israelis and almost all Israelis in general. Israel needs to continue to be alert and ready to squash any potential terrorist threat from Palestinian terrorists in 2015, and must also be prepared to face another possible series of riots similar to what we saw in the Arab town of Kafr Kanna if a similar situation arises. However, it is what the Palestinians are now doing on the world stage, not just in the West Bank, which should be Israel’s primary diplomatic concern in 2015.
2015 started with the United States and Australia vetoing the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations, which was a major diplomatic victory for Israel. However, 2015 could end with the Palestinians being accepted to the International Criminal Court, filing charges against Israel, and the ICC officially charging Israel with war crimes for the act of defending themselves from Hamas this past summer. In 2015, expect the Palestinians to become more brazen on the world stage by potentially joining the ICC, with anti Zionist imbeciles such as George G alloway, Sayeeda Warsi and Omar Omeirat ramping up pro Palestinian fervor in Europe in 2015 if the Palestinians have the chance to file war crimes against Israel.
In conclusion, Israel should be cautiously optimistic for 2015. Hamas has been weakened and the Palestinians recently had their statehood bid rejected at the UN. Israel’s population is growing steadily and the success of its high tech sector will only continue. The March election will usher in a potential for new possibilities and an Israeli economic comeback seems likely. Tourism is expected to rise and standard of living will rise again in 2015. Israel now has a promising and fruitful relationship with India, and lots of progress will be made between both countries in the future. However, the threat of Palestinian terrorism and Palestinian ascension onto the world stage must be addressed properly and justifiably in order for Israel to not have increased conflict with Palestinians, EU countries and the UN. This year, if Israel pulls out all the right moves, it will prove once again why it is the light in a region of darkness and life will again be “metzuyan” in the Holy Land.