Avigdor Liberman

Parliamentary elections are only a few days away, and ongoing pre-election polls are trying to determine what the most important issues are in regards to which political party, or parties, in Israel’s usual governmental coalition formations afterwards will wind up forming the next government.

livniIn the aftermath of the just completed 22 day military operations in Gaza, and the continued firing of rockets and mortars into Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian extremists, it would appear that the security issue is the one that will be on the top list of most voters when they step into voting booths on February 10. The problems dealing with the country’s security, especially for Israelis living in Israel’s southern regions and northern areas near Lebanon, as well as the problem of dealing with Iran and its nuclear program; has resulted in parties like Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitanu gaining so much in the pre-election opinion polls.

barakSecurity is a very important issue, and will always be so in a country still largely surrounded by hostile enemies. But as important as this issue may be, there are many others that need the most urgent attention. And two of these issues are the country’s dire water problem and the economic recession that the country’s population is now “officially” immersed in. Both of issues are none-the-less serious than the security one, and may even be eventually more difficult to deal with.

The water problem, or it’s increasingly lack of, is a very major concern due to one of the driest winters in the country’s history; which follows a number of below-average rainy seasons that has brought the current water in the Kinneret as well as the mountain and coastal aquifers to levels so low that it will soon reach an irreversible state. Apparent lack of proper government attention to this problem has resulted in a state where water may have to be actually imported in large quantities just to satisfy the population’s basic household needs. Much of this problem could have been averted years ago if enough emphasis had been put on building desalinization plants along Israel’s Mediterranean coastline. Although a few of these plants were built, such as the one in Ashdod, at least 20 more should have been constructed. An example of how some countries have solved their water problems by desalinization is how Persian Gulf Emirate countries have been able to build beautiful futuristic cities which have virtually all their fresh water needs supplied by this method. One Emirate state, Dubai, even constructed a ski slope within an ultra-modern shopping and entertainment complex. Had Israeli governmental authorities followed this example Israel might now have at least 30-50% of its water needs supplied this way.

bibiThe other major problem deals with the state of the economy, in which thousands of people, many of them engaged in technology based industries, are now unemployed and having to look for any kind of work just to put food on the table for their families. Although the world economic crises, which began in the U.S.A. several months ago, is not of Israel’s making the result has created a recession which is most likely to worsen before it gets better. The weaker elements of society, especially the old, the disabled, and the poorer sectors of the population, are suffering the most as they had virtually no reserves to fall back on even before the stock markets began to crash. Lowering prime interest rates to all time levels (now at 1%) doesn’t help much if one has no money to spend anyway. And Israel’s dependence on exporting goods and services to certain economically stressed markets, like the U.S.A., has resulted in a sharp reduction of cash flow to most companies, not to mention small businesses.

Taking all of these issues into account, there will be a lot of things on peoples’ minds on Tuesday when they vote to elect their country’s leadership for the next few years.