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Saturday, December 3, 2022

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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Tiny but Powerful

By The Editor

During these last four years Israel witnessed great instability in the ruling coalition and consequently had five general elections to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) the latest being on November 1. As soon as results of the polls were announced on Wednesday November 9, the Chairman of the Central Elections Committee formally informed President Isaac Herzog who immediately started discussions with leaders of different political parties for information of government. After two days President Herzog had asked Benjamin Netanyahu who has backing of 64 members in house of 120 to head new government following consultation with newly elected members of the 25th Knesset. The 73-year-old Netanyahu has won record five elections and has been prime minister five times, more than any other in the country’s 74-year history. This time he has been given 28 days to form the government and if required another 14 additional days and in all likelihood it will be the sixth time for him as Israel’s prime minister.

The state of Israel came into existence on May 14, 1948 after anxiously waiting for nearly two thousand years, few months after the United Nations (UN) General Assembly had opted for partition as the only feasible solution to Arab-Jewish rivalries in Palestine. Area of Israel is 20,700 square kilometer little less than that of Meghalaya which is 22, 429 square kilometer with nearly 10 million population majority of whom are Jews with sizable number of Arabs. Approximately 85 per cent are Jewish, 11 per cent Muslim and 25 per cent Christian. Culturally, life is pro-Western especially in cities and urban areas. Education is free and compulsory to children 5-14 years of age. Hebrew and Arabic are official languages and there are both Hebrew and Arab schools at all levels. Defence is considered very important as tiny state is surrounded by hostile Arab countries on all sides and constituting tens of thousands of millions in population. Men in age-group 18-26 have to voluntarily serve in the defence forces for 36 months and those in age group 27-29 for two years. All unmarried women aged 18-26 have to serve for 20 months in armed forces whereas males under 55 and childless women under 34 are on the reserve. All above categories are for Jewish people only. Israel has excellent road network and very good public bus transport besides good and comfortable railway system. Arkia Airline operates domestic fight while El Al international airline is also much appreciated globally.

Netanyahu advocates strong bilateral ties with India and was the second Israeli Prime Minister to visit India in January 2018. His Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid historic visit to Israel in July 2017 and was the first by an Indian Prime Minister. After years of conflict and hostilities with Arab neighbours, some Arab and Muslim countries are trying to reconcile with ground reality by according mutual recognition and maintaining diplomatic relationships.

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