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Netanyahu’s Israel

The April 9 parliamentary elections in Israel have underscored (highlighted; रेखांकित  करना ) the structural shift in the country’s democracy — the right wing reigns (to hold influence; प्रभावित  किया ) supreme. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had faced serious challenges during the campaign. He faces corruption allegations (charges; आरोप ) that could lead to his indictment (impeachment; महाभियोग ). The Blue and White party, formed a few weeks ahead of the election, had quickly risen to become the principal (main;मुख्य ) opposition force, giving Mr. Netanyahu a scare (tough competition; कठिन प्रतियोगिता). He had lost some allies (partners; सहयोगी) even before the elections. In the event, Mr. Netanyahu has emerged victorious (winner; विजेता). While both Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Blue and White got 35 seats each (after 98% of the votes were counted), he could become Prime Minister for a fifth time with support from rightwing parties. Likud has markedly (significantly; स्पष्ट रूप से) improved its performance from 2015, when it had won 30 seats and still formed the government. The orthodox (traditional; रूढ़िवादी) Jewish parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, which won seven and six seats respectively in 2015, secured eight each this time. The Union of Rightwing Parties and the right-nationalist Yisrael Beytenu have won five seats each, while the centrist  Kulanu has got four. With the support of these potential (possible; संभावित ) allies, Mr. Netanyahu would have the backing(support; समर्थन) of 65 MPs, well past the halfway mark in the 120-member Knesset.

Mr. Netanyahu ran a contentious (controversial; विवादास्पद), ultra-nationalist campaign to drum up (to bring together; साथ लाना) support for Likud and its allies. He had publicly aligned (formed an alliance; गठबंधन ) with Jewish Power, a fringe (not mainstream; मुख्यधारा  से अलग ) party known for its racist, anti-Arab views. If Mr. Netanyahu had said there wouldn’t be any Palestinian state under his watch during the 2015 election campaign, this time, a few days ahead of the poll, he said he would annex (merge; शामिल करना ) parts of the West Bank to bring Jewish settlements under Israeli sovereignty (rule; शासन ). He also exploited (took advantage of; फायदा उठाना )the security concerns of Israeli voters by presenting himself as the only leader capable of keeping them safe from “Palestinian terrorists” as well as Iran. Mr. Netanyahu is credited (given credit for; श्रेय दिया गया ) with stabilising the Israeli economy and, more controversially, clinching (achieving; प्राप्त करना) major diplomatic coups (successfully achieving something difficult; सफलतापूर्वक कुछ कठिन प्राप्त करना) such as the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the occupied Syrian Golan as Israeli territory, thanks to American President Donald Trump. Mr. Netanyahu is now set to become the longest-serving Prime Minister, overtaking(to surpass; पार करना ) David Ben-Gurion, the country’s founder. But the Israel he leads today is totally different from what even Ben-Gurion and the early socialist Zionists had imagined. With Mr. Netanyahu showing no interest in the peace process and the occupation of Palestine being deepened (to become more intense;अत्याधिक गंभीर होना ) both militarily and through Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Israel, which is described by a Basic Law passed last year as “the nation state of the Jewish people”, is a de facto (to exist in reality; वर्तमान/वास्तविक ) apartheid (discrimination on grounds of race; रंगभेद /नस्ल के आधार पर भेदभाव) state. Given his record, there is little reason to hope that Mr. Netanyahu will break the status quo (the existing state of affairs; यथास्थिति/मौजूदा मामलों की स्थिति) during his next term.

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