Key issues in Israeli election

AP News
Posted: Jan 21, 2013 11:26 AM

Key campaign issues in Tuesday's Israeli parliamentary election:

—Israel-U.S. relations: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had a frosty relationship with President Barack Obama. If Netanyahu is re-elected, relations could sour further over issues where the two disagree, primarily the Palestinians and Iran.

—Iran: Netanyahu and his government have pressed hard for stricter sanctions against Iran over its suspect nuclear program, implying until recently that Israel might be forced to attack Iranian nuclear sites to stop weapons development. His opponents charge that a unilateral Israeli attack would bring painful retaliation and would not significantly damage Iran's program, which Tehran denies has military purposes.

—Palestinians: Netanyahu has grudgingly accepted the concept of a Palestinian state but has rejected Palestinian and international demands to halt Israeli settlement construction. He has staked out positions on the West Bank and east Jerusalem that are far less generous than those offered unsuccessfully by predecessors, leading the Palestinians and his dovish opponents to question his commitment to peacemaking.

—Arab world: Netanyahu insists that peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan must be preserved, but his opponents think he has overreacted with his dire warnings about Islamist parties that have won elections after "Arab Spring" revolts. Israel is also warily watching the civil war in neighboring Syria, concerned about al-Qaida-linked groups there and the possibility of chemical weapons falling into the hands of hostile elements.

—Economy: Netanyahu says he has preserved stability despite global economic turmoil. His opponents complain that gaps between rich and poor are wider than ever.