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A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to throw back a tear-gas canister at Israeli forces following a demonstration near the fence along the border with Israel east of Gaza City Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The upcoming elections in Israel is unlikely to generate any surprises.

However, an interesting debate is emerging in the run-up to the April polls over the direction the state is heading as the independence of state institutions has been increasingly compromised.

While it is a known fact that Israel has been shifting towards the right for many years, the centre has also shifted, leaving the far left — which supports reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians — under scrutiny.

“Now, the fight in the upcoming election is not ideological, nor related to the Palestinian cause, as much as it is on regaining the respect and honour to the concept of the Statism,” said Hunaida Ganem, General Director of the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies (MADAR), an independent research centre based in Ramallah.

In an interview with Gulf News, she explained that the original concept of Statism, which was part of the policy of Israel’s founder, David Ben-Gurion, calls to keep the institutions away from the political and ideological conflicts.

However, since the second government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2009, the meaning of Statism shifted as institutions increasingly have become part of the conflict.

At the top of these institutions comes the once-revered Supreme Court which has now becoming more right wing, Ganem, explained.

“The debate (in this election) is on the form of the state, and not on ideology or the conflict between the right and left. The debate is about the relationship between the institutions, on corruption, and the relations between the judiciary and the executive branches. There is no debate on what will happen to the Palestinians,” she said.

Efforts to solve the decades-old Palestinian question hit a deadlock many years ago.

Today, the issue doesn’t seem to be on any Israeli’s agenda, except of those from the far left camp and a handful Israeli political parties, political scientists said.

And even those parties’ ideas are “old and have nothing new”, said Tarek Fahmi, head of the Israeli unit at the National Centre of Middle East Studies in Cairo, and political science professor at Cairo University.

Fahmi stressed, in an interview with Gulf News, that the Palestinian question is not on anyone’s agenda in the current election campaign.

“We should pay attention to a very important point: all political parties’ programmes are becoming one”, Fahmi said.

“The voter doesn’t know about the programmes. Voting will be for individuals and not programmes.”

Many former senior army generals are running in this year’s poll.

They include former chief of staff General Benny Gantz.

However, the time for the top brass to dominate the political scene is up, according to Rami Nasrallah, director general of occupied Jerusalem East Jerusalem’s International Peace and Cooperation Centre think tank.

“This could be important for the public opinion (in Israel), but a new opposing concept was created in the past couple of decades. The security issue is important, but the right wing claims that it has succeeded in preserving security and the superiority of Israeli military power,” Nasrallah told Gulf News.

Also, the right wing claims that Israel’s relations with many countries have improved, while its economy was not affected by the international crises, analysts said.

“I don’t expect a radical change (in the elections) … The centre (today) is the extreme right of the labour party, and not the extreme right of Meretz. No one knows today the difference between the right and centre. But for sure, the centre isn’t concerned with the issue of reaching a territorial solution with the Palestinians.”

Meanwhile, the traditional far left in Israel, which is advocating a peaceful solution with the Palestinians, is being subjected to tight censorship from the authorities, including their funding, he said.

Though some analysts believe the right wing would come out as the biggest winner in April’s elections, others say the coming few weeks could bring unexpected developments, including the indictment of Netanyahu in the corruption probe he is facing.