Page last updated at 13:45 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Israeli elections: Voters' views

Israel's right-wing parties are expected to do well in the country's general elections on 10 February. Israelis from across the political spectrum explain who they will be voting for.

Joshua Genuth

Joshua Genuth

Debbie Rosen

Debbie Rosen

Jazzmin Cohen

Jazzmin Cohen

Donna Metreger

Donna Metreger

Eliahu Stolin

Eliahu Stolin

Mohamad Marazka

Mohamad Marazka

Yael Ornan

Yael Ornan

Kobi Cohen

JOSHUA GENUTH, in Herzelia

Joshua Genuth

I've been in Israel nine years, but only became a citizen two and a half years ago. I was American. When I served in the Israeli army as a volunteer, I wasn't allowed to vote which was stupid. so, I'm pretty excited about voting.

Security and the Palestinians: I believe in the settlements ideologically, that the land of Israel should be for the Jewish nation. If Israel pulled out of the settlements in the West Bank I think within a week Hamas would take over, like it did in Gaza. So Fatah's continued dominance of the West Bank is ironically down to the settlements being there.

Iran: Maybe with a new president in the US some diplomatic headway can be made, it's worth a try. But don't assume we're dealing with rational open-minded people. Iran is an underestimated threat.

Economy: I know Bibi [Likud leader Netanyahu] has a strong background in economics. I'm not entirely sure what their plans are for the economy to be honest. I would like to not spend another dime on uniforms and bullets, but now is not the time to cut military spending.

Voting: Likud


Debbie Rosen

I lived in Gush Katif in Gaza, for 24 years. We didn't leave our home, we were expelled. We are still in this temporary place built for evacuees, Nitzan, between Ashkelon and Ashdod. So we get rockets. I have six children.

Security and the Palestinians: I don't believe withdrawing or giving up territory leads to peace. I think the government should declare that Israel is a state for the Jews; that it's our home. It's not a question of territory, it's a question of changing your mind.

Iran: I know Tehran is training fighters and giving Gaza rockets. It's a serious problem for Israel but also for the rest of the world. Israel has the right to protect itself.

Economy: I lost my job when we were forced out of Gaza and I'm still looking for work. We don't have the same standard of living as we did in Gush Katif. Most of my friends who moved with us are also unemployed, especially those who worked in agriculture.

I wish we could spend the same amount on education that we spend on military things. I don't want to sound critical or unhappy with my lot, but politicians forget about you until it's the elections.

Voting: Last time I registered a protest vote. I'm not sure I'll vote at all this time, no-one convinces me. I want a party that cares about people, about social issues.

Jazzmin Cohen

I'm a textile designer and am also studying part-time for an MA in women and gender studies. I grew up in Jerusalem in a normal, middle class family. I think for me and most of my left-wing friends the biggest decision is whether to vote for a social party, or to vote for something that will keep Bibi out.

Security and the Palestinians: I think because of the war, the media is demonising the Arabs at the moment. They show only the terrorists and Hamas, not the regular people like us who are the ones we need to make peace with.

I think Israel should withdraw from the lands occupied in 1967 - apart from some land exchange or the ones being expanded. I read an article about Ofra, Alonmore and Beitel settlements recently. It said they were still expanding and they're on private Palestinian land. I think they should all be evacuated. I feel this strongly. Some say if they're evacuated there would be a big civil war. But I don't buy that; there's enough room for the Jewish people inside the 1967 boundaries.

Iran: It's the whole world's problem. We're talking about an atomic bomb, aren't we? I try not to think about it.

Economy: I do feel insecure, both on a personal level and for society as a whole. I am sure governments can make a difference. For that reason I'd like to vote Meretz because they are very socially dedicated - Kadima not so much. Meretz focuses on all groups in society, legislating for fair employment, fair salaries, fair treatment of women.

I am sure military spending could be cut without harming the strength of the army.

Voting: I have always voted for Meretz, it reflects my beliefs in almost every part of life. But I may well vote for Kadima - so that Likud won't get in. I cannot imagine living with Netanyahu as leader again and he goes hand in hand with Avigdor Lieberman whom I totally detest. I also like Tzipi Livni's honest, clean style of leadership, less aggressive than Bibi or Barak. And she's a woman.

DONNA METREGER, in Beersheva
Donna Metreger

I moved to Israel from the US three years ago - and I'm a full time student of English Literature at the age of 72! I used to be a real peacenik, and I'm very much an ecology person. At one time I would have voted for Meretz, but with the problems in Gaza, things have changed.

Security and the Palestinians: I think we should have two very different policies for Gaza and the West Bank. We should reward the West Bank which has been really behaving. I think we could remove some of those checkpoints. If there is no terrorism, why are they there?

Gaza is a different story, they just don't stop trying to kill Israelis, even after that God-awful war. I'm not sure why Israel has to give them fuel and water when Egypt keeps its border closed.

It's stupid that the settlements are expanding. Part of the peace process was us saying we wouldn't expand, so what did we do? But if we don't have settlers there we wouldn't need an army. And if the army pulls out, I'm afraid the West Bank might turn into Hamas.

Iran: Oh my God. I don't know why they hate us so much.

Economy: I'm not sure we can cut military spending. I live in Beersheva and a boy was nearly killed by rockets.

I think ecology could be economically feasible for Israel. We've got that huge desert, that would be good for solar panels. And Israel is creating an electric motorcycle. Investing in green technology would set an example to the world, give us jobs, and something to export.

Voting: I hate to admit it, but I think I'll vote for Likud. I'd like to vote for a green party, but it won't get in.

ELIAHU STOLIN, in Hatzor Haglelit, a small town in Galilee

Eliahu Stolin

I came to Israel on a repatriation scheme from Russia when I was 15. Out of 25 of us, only two went back to Russia. I stayed because I love Israel: the mentality and the people. Maybe it's the climate and the spicy food too. I keep Shabbat but I'm not orthodox, I don't wear the big black hat.

Security and the Palestinians: Settlements? I believe it's our territory, but we can live there with the Arab people. When I was in the West Bank with the army I saw Arabs working together with Jews in Jewish towns. It's good for Arabs that Jews live there to give them jobs and money, and it's also good for us.

I supported the war in Gaza - I was a reservist - but I thought it ended too soon.

Iran: Every day the media blows up some anti-Semitic comment [Iranian president] Ahmadinejad makes, but his words don't threaten me. He only becomes a threat when he shows force.

Economy: I'm thinking about security, not the economy in these elections. When Bibi was in charge of the economy he said he'd help everyone, but in reality he hurt the little people and the middle classes too.

Voting: I think I'll vote for Habayit Hayehudi [Jewish Home], they are from our community and they only started last year. They talk on a practical level. I see Israelis becoming more and more right wing, all the new parties are on the right.

Bibi talks like a right-wing leader, but when he's in the job, he makes more compromises than I'd like. I don't trust him to do what he says about Israel's territory. He said yes to the Gaza withdrawal!

MOHAMAD MARAZKA, in Qufur Qara, 80km north of Tel Aviv

Mohamad Marazka

What is called Israeli democracy is not useful to us. I'm not sure if I will take part in it, although I probably will. In my opinion Avigdor Lieberman's party is fascist. His campaign aims to de-legitimise Arabs and their parties and he may win 15 seats!

Even the bigger parties don't have the courage to label his ideas as extreme as they really are.

Security and the Palestinians: As long as the occupation continues I don't think Israel will feel secure. There will always be resistance to occupation. Right now, Israeli propaganda tries to make out that political Islam is the enemy threatening Israel. I disagree; the issues are political and should be dealt with in political ways.

Settlers should be re-sited in Israel. But it's a very difficult process for all of them to move. Withdrawal from Gaza was done with consensus and created such a crisis, I cannot see how they can do this in the West Bank. In Gaza there were just 7,000 settlers. In the West Bank it's more than 450,000.

If no Israeli leader is prepared to withdraw settlers from the West Bank within the next 10 years, the only answer will be a one-state solution. I mean Jews and Palestinians having the right to live wherever they like in one state. That's because the settlements are expanding so much.

Iran: We must distinguish between the extreme political statements of President Ahmadinejad and the pragmatic way the rest of the political system in Iran operates.

Economy: I can't talk about the economy. I choose my vote on political matters.

Voting: If I do vote, I'll vote for the Arab Democracy Assembly again. They have three seats. It represents what I believe in: full citizens' rights in Israel. But I wonder if we'd be better working outside parliament, in civil rights. It might be a more effective way of raising Arab consciousness.

YAEL ORNAN, in a moshav near Haifa

Yael Ornan

The environment is the biggest issue for me. I live with my husband and four children in one of the loveliest places in Israel, in a little village in the mountains near Haifa. The war took the focus off social and environmental issues. Talking about climate change right now sounds ridiculous - but it isn't.

Security and the Palestinians: It's very easy for the politicians to concentrate on security issues.

I would like to believe our leaders do absolutely everything they can diplomatically, before shooting the first bullet. But I can't say I do believe that. I feel really bad about Gaza - also bad for the people in Sderot. Other Israelis felt the war was about time, but that's not how I felt. It's confusing.

I would support any agreement that would end the settlements. In the end it will be two countries here, Israel and Palestine and the sooner we get there the better. The other side should reach the point of accepting Israel is here to stay. When Hamas understands that, then we can talk.

Iran: I think it is a threat and diplomatic pressure would help, especially now Obama is US president. I don't think it's time for action against Iran, unless it's going to attack us tomorrow.

Economy: I would take money from the settlements and put it into other areas, such as education. The schooling our four children are getting is not great. Teachers recently got a pay rise, but it's not enough. If you attract good people with a good salary, everything else falls into place. But we haven't been smart enough to do this.

Voting: I'm going to vote for the Green Movement, it's the newest of the two Green parties. It's a social movement, and very liberal. It has both religious and secular people in it.

KOBI COHEN, in Tel Aviv

I used to have hope, but then I lived in Sderot. I think the war in Gaza should have happened years ago. I now work as an office manager in Tel Aviv and I am 27 years old.

Security and the Palestinians: Security is the million-dollar question. Right now the Palestinians have the wrong leadership to achieve peace for them and us. I'm not sure we should try to take sides in the split in the Palestinian leadership. If we help Fatah by releasing prisoners, or giving them money and weapons, that can weaken them because Hamas can accuse Fatah of collaborating with us.

I don't think the settlements should be there. I think every Israeli in his heart would agree to give up land for true peace. But agreeing to give things up in advance is the wrong way to negotiate.

We know the end of the story: two states next to each other, but we just don't know when it must happen.

Iran: I think we should take President Ahmadinejad's words seriously. I don't think there's room to talk, as Obama suggests. The only solution is military, like Osirak. [The Iraqi nuclear plant Israel bombed in the 1980s].

Economy: I feel safe in my work. I'll vote for Lieberman because he's the only person who says clear things. He says what people think. I know he's a little bit extreme, but I think once in power, people realise they have to compromise.

His talk about expelling Arab Israelis from Israel: he's expressing people's real feelings about the loyalty of some of Israel's citizens. I think it's wrong for Israel to support the family of a suicide bomber. He's not talking about expelling all Arabs.

By the way, my neighbour in Tel Aviv is Palestinian. I know a lot about Islam and Arabic culture, I even speak Arabic.

We have no choice but to spend money on the military.

Voting: Last time I voted for Amir Peretz, the union guy in charge of Labour. This time I'll vote for Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party.

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