Israel Seals West Bank Ahead of Close National Election
In less than 24 hours Israel elects a new government, and in the hours beforehand the West Bank will be sealed down. Israel's hard liners surged ahead in public perception in the days leading up to the elections, though the election is still extremely close.
In the last election in 2006, the centrist Kadima party took power with promises of a US-sponsored peace with the Palestinians. After the 22-day campaign in the West Bank however, few Israelis harbor many illusions for a peaceful resolution.
After the Gaza war, Israeli voters are expected to veer towards the right in Tuesday's elections, paving the way for a new hard-line coalition government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister and leader of the Likud party.
Opinion polls and political reports indicate it will be a neck-and-neck race between the Prime Minister candidates, Binyamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing opposition Likud party, and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the centrist Kadima, the largest party in the Ehud Olmert-led cabinet.
While security at any time is extremely tight in Israel, preparations have really ramped up for election day. Over 16,000 police and border guard officers, as well as at least 7,000 volunteers and security guards will be manning the 9,569 polling stations across the country.
Security personnel will also deploy in crowded places, work to conduct traffic near polling stations and secure public figure's visits in various places.
ISRAEL is to seal off the occupied West Bank for 24 hours while it holds parliamentary elections today, an army spokesman said.
"A closure will be imposed on the West Bank from midnight Monday (9am AEDT Tuesday) and remain in force until midnight Tuesday (local time)," the spokesman said.
While security concerns remain the foremost issue for Israelis, the economy and trade, agriculture, technology and the environment are all included in the various party platforms.
Israel's elections pitch three candidates from the centre, centre-right and centre-left against each other. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Kadima, opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak of Labour are all vying for similar groups of voters. Meanwhile, far-right winger Avigdor Liebermam's Yisrael Beiteinu party may beat Labour into third place.
The Green Party
1. Conservation, purification and clever planning of the systems for consuming and producing water;