In the final stages before the March 17 parliamentary election in Israel the opposition is mobilizing against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The center-left alliance Zionist Union says its time to lead Israel out of its international isolation. Thousands of Israelis have been demonstrating for political change and reconciliation with the Palestinians, expressing hope for a two state solution.
Labor Party head Isaac Herzog is the man who aims to replace Netanyahu in the country's top job. Former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the Hatnua Party says Israel needs a leader who can do more than just spread fear. Together their electoral alliance hopes to bring about a change in government.
Meir Dagan, a former head of Israel's foreign intelligence service Mossad, has also entered the fray, saying that Israel is currently experiencing the most serious leadership crisis in its history.
Israel's relationship with its most important partner the US, is seriously strained, and not only by Netanyahu's speech to the US congress at the invitation of the Republicans. Netanyahu rejects the notion of any deal with Iran on its nuclear program.
Likud Party boss Netanyahu also caused a stir in Europe when he called on Jewish Europeans to move to Israel in the wake of terror attacks targeting Jews. Netanyahu aims to score points with conservative hardliners and settlers by warning of a threat from radical Islam and terrorist organisations supported by Iran. Will his policy of maintaining the status quo be successful once more?
Does Israel need a serious initiative to transform the region? Netanyahu is also under pressure on domestic issues: a housing crisis, the growing gap between rich and poor, and renewed debate on how to create a better future for Israel.
Head-to-Head: Will Israel Vote Change?
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Malte Lehming– is theeditor of the opinion page of "Der Tagesspiegel", he was the paper's Washington Bureau Chief from January 2001 to July 2005. Lehming joined "Der Tagesspiegel” in 1991 as a foreign editor, covering security issues, transatlantic relations and the Middle East. From 1989 to 1991, he served as personal assistant and speechwriter for the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Lehming completed an MA in philosophy, German Literature and European History.
Rafael Seligmann – is a German-Israeli writer, publicist, political scientist and historian. In 1957, Seligmann and his parents emigrated from Israel to Germany. He studied political science and history in Munich and Tel Aviv and wrote a doctoral thesis in 1982 on the subject of Israel’s security policy. Since 1978, Seligmann has been writing essays, commentary and columns for many German publications. In early 2012, Seligmann set up "Jewish Voice from Germany.
Judy Dempsey– after training as a journalist in Ireland, Ms Dempsey embarked on an international career: From the 1980s to early 1990s she reported from Eastern Europe. In 1996 she took over the Financial Times' bureau in Jerusalemwhere she remained until 2001. Judy Dempsey has won numerous awards for her work, including the Anglo-German Prize and the Foreign Press Association Award. She was a Columnist for the International Herald Tribune and works now as a Senior Associate at Carnegie Europe and editor-in-chief of Strategic Europe.