Elections in Israel: Netanyahu focuses on security whilst the country also looks at the economy

On 9 April Israelis go to the polls in a general election. The incumbent’s leadership has been weakened by corruption charges. The ruling Likud is closely following the improving polls of its main rival. The Palestinian question and growing social problems remain important.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Israel’s general election on 9 April will not be centred only on the usual issues: war, peace, relations with the Palestinians, the economy. The legitimacy of Benjamin Netanyahu is also on the table.

The incumbent prime minister is facing a pre-indictment hearing on corruption charges that could lead to his eventual imprisonment

Netanyahu, who claims to be a victim of a legal and political "witch hunt" designed to eliminate him politically despite popular support, has vowed to prove his innocence. 

Whilst many of his supporters sympathise with the veteran leader, his Likud party is trailing in opinion polls the centrist Blue and White alliance led by former military chief of staff Benny Gantz and ex-finance minister Yair Lapid.

In recent years Israeli politics has moved firmly to the right and much of the campaign has seen Netanyahu try to brand his Blue and White opponents as "weak" leftists. The latter has in turn brandished its security credentials, noting that it includes three former military chiefs of staff.

Netanyahu has claimed Blue and White would make significant concessions to the Palestinians. Gantz says instead that his alliance wants to separate from the Palestinians without sacrificing any of Israel's security needs or retreating from the major settlement blocs in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Security is always a major issue in a country that has fought repeated wars, and debate over who is truly of the political right goes hand-in-hand with that.

However, a recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute think tank found that a quarter of Israelis say their primary consideration in voting is the party's socio-economic positions.

In the past few years, Netanyahu has overseen a growing economy, but the cost of living remains high and is an important concern for many Israelis.

At the same time, flaws in Israel's public health system have recently come to light with shortages in hospital beds this winter, which the Labour party vows to remedy.