Israel – Prospects of the Early Elections

by Bence Attila NÉMETH, Researcher, Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade 

Although the year 2018 for Israel seemed to be promising regarding fortunate events in geopolitics, at the end of 2017, there were probably few people in the country who knew what major changes were coming in the perspective of both domestic and security policies. US President Donald Trump’s statement – according to which the US embassy will move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the city of disputed status will be permanently recognized by Washington as the capital of the Jewish state  - seemed the most prestigious political victory for Israel in recent years. This was especially true in view of the fact that Washington has been followed by several other countries since then. The recognition of Jerusalem as the capital was not only an international success, but its domestic political consequences were realized in a short run. In July 2018, a law was passed by the Knesset, which stated that "Israel is a Jewish nation state, and Jerusalem is its unified and indivisible capital."Despite the accusations of corruption and the increasing tensions in the governing coalition – and party politics – of Netanyahu’s government, the governing-coalition seemed to have enough munition for the 2019 elections. Although Israel apparently achieved upper hand in the Jewish-Palestinian conflict in 2018 and the Hamas got fragmented and lost its military potential in several aspects by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the past 10 years, the re-emergence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has led to unexpected political waves, which shattered the government coalition led by Likud at the end of the year. Benjamin Netanyahu's unsuccessful decision that he did not declare war after the failed undercover operation in Gaza – which led to the death of several Israeli and Palestinian people – proved to be critical in the perspective of internal affairs. At first, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned, then his party, named Israel Is Our Country, left the governing majority. Just a few weeks later, the coalition with a narrow majority was finally broken after Benjamin Netanyahu's government failed to obtain support for the adoption of a law regarding the recruitment of ultra-orthodox Jews who have been dispensed from military service so far. Point in time, the Knesset has decided about its own cessation. There was a serious loss of prestige in the field of security policy which places the domestic political crisis in a wide spectrum. In this regard, Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw its military forces from Syria after defeating Daesh (Islam State). After the rather turbulent year of 2018, we have to pay more attention than usual to Israel in 2019.

Approaching the situation from outside, the most important thing is the further development of the Syrian conflict and the issues surrounding the reconciliation In addition to delaying Iran's regional advancement, Hezbollah's further strengthening is the focal point of the security policy in the Jewish state. Military operations against Hezbollah are expected to continue in 2019 to efficiently weaken the reinforced positions of Hezbollah that are gradually returning from Syria to Lebanon, while increasing the IDF’s own deterrence capacity, thus avoiding attacks in the northern region. The United States’s withdrawal from Syria will most likely trigger increased military activity from Israel. At the same time, the Jewish state does not have to worry at all that the Trump administration is backing out of the region, threatening by this the current level of American-Israeli relations. Simultaneously, Jerusalem will need to make further efforts to keep Russia as an indirect tool to be able to shape the Syrian reconciliation, even if the influence is minimal. The role of the underground cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Israel is also expected to be appreciated by both sides in the shadow of Iran.

Jerusalem will have to keep his finger on the artery of Gaza. Critical months are coming for the Israeli political leadership, and especially for Netanyahu. During this period, the increase in Hamas activity and the escalation of the situation could cast doubt on the meaning of a de facto ceasefire that triggered a government crisis. In addition, it can further strengthen the domestic political positions of individuals urging a military solution. Beyond the foreign and security policy dimension, the year 2019 will be primarily about internal political struggles.

According to surveys, Benjamin Netanyahu's party, Likud, is still having good positions due to the government crisis in April. At the same time, the party is almost inconceivable to be able to form a government alone. In case Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit decides to prosecute Netanyahu for corruption and bribery until early spring elections, winning can become not only a political issue but easily a personal existential matter for Netanyahu. However, it must also be seen that Netanyahu's positions have not worsened significantly since the scandals of recent years. In fact, Likud can easily reproduce the results of the 2015 elections by acquiring a quarter of the parliamentary mandates. During the elections, the real issue will be the presence of parties and party coalitions behind Likud. Therefore, further polarization of the currently highly fragmented political sphere can be expected. In the light of the events of the past few days, it is very difficult to predict what formation could be a real alternative to Likud. However, it is almost certain that by the break-up of the Zionist Community, there will be practically no chance of creating an Israeli left-wing unit until April. The personal conflict between Avi Gabaj, Representative of the Labor Party, and Tzipi Livni, Leader of Tnua Party, is expected to result in the loss of a series of valuable mandates. The further weakening of the left-wing and the fragmentation of right-wing votes also foreshadow Likud's victory. For the time being, Benjamin Netanyahu's only opponent seems to be the very popular, but politically inexperienced Benny Gantzm who is the former Chief of Staff. The Netanyahu administration, which will remain in office until the April elections, is therefore likely to continue its current policy. Meanwhile, they will try to shift the focus of Jerusalem and the public from the domestic political struggles and the accusations of corruption towards the Israeli foreign, internal and security policies.

Greening the Desert and Moroccan-Hungarian Model of Progressive Climate Protection

The author of the article and the leader of the project is Prof. Dr. József Steier, Country Director of the HTCC Business Network in Morocco.

While the heat is still unbearable in Hungary, the forests are on fire in Sweden as well. We feel that the climate change is no longer just waiting in our "lobby", but it is in our apartment. Meanwhile, there is a lack of a world wide collaboration based on actions. According to a comprehensive example, what we have done so far in the world is like annoying an elephant with a straw. Although alarming studies were published recently, deforestation continues, our lakes are drying out, desertification is still a problem (even in Hungary), the African migratory pressure is increasing in the European Union and people die of heat waves and the related strokes.

This increasingly worsening situation is getting more and more serious. A childhood dreams of mine inspired me to work out a complex and progressive answer which is not only an effective solution for the aforementioned problem, but also partly or completely solves it and also gives new impulse to the development of the world economy. This plan is no less than greening the Sahara. My fellow scholar colleagues call it the Green Sahara Project or simply the GSP.

The essence of the GSP is that, we are building a triangular shape with 25.000-acre-large green squares (called quadrats). The project would start at the coast of the Atlantic Ocean heading towards the middle of the desert, in the direction of the Lake Chad. 50.000 workers are needed per square. This number grows to 250.000 with the inclusion of the families. Thanks to a new Hungarian innovation, seven million trees to be planted per square will capture about 25 million tons of carbon dioxide! This figure is half of Hungary’s annual total CO2 emission. Artificial rains generated with nuclear heat, dual-function wind turbines or the vortex towers may sound like a utopian endeavour in which we transform the 27 different economic and ecological options provided by our trees into prosperity.

The seemingly Verne-like vision is in fact based on reality. The target area of the squares is only one third of the Western Sahara, starting from the Atlantic coast to Lake Chad. Of course it is a vast territory with the size of three million square kilometres.

In order to understand the GSP, let us start by saying that the Sahara used to be green with dense vegetation and large herbivores. The concentration of carbon dioxide used to be much higher in the atmosphere, compared to today’s level. At the same time, the destroyed tropical jungles and Earth’s vanished giant lakes prevented extreme weather conditions from appearing, in addition to many other benefits. Today, the Sahara is a sand and stone desert and the Aral and Chad lakes are disappearing. Our jungles are dying or being transformed into a monocultural plantations. We even cut off the free fertilizer, the CO2, from the vegetation. Creating the “puzzles” required for the success of the GSP did not go easy. The project had to be put together with the help of the forces of nature and not against them.

Ten years ago, I started experimenting with a special plant in Hungary. It was a Paulownia hybrid. Thanks to the highly efficient (C4) photosynthesis, the plant can capture ten times more carbon dioxide (CO2), compared to the temperate zone. In Morocco, however, our trees work even better, because the favorable conditions make it work more efficient. While forests in the temperate zone can capture 13.5 tons of CO2 per acre annually, our hybrid starts with 100 tons even in a limited vegetation period. In Morocco, we nearly achieved 500 tons. It was possible in 360-day-long vegetation period with an average temperature around 20 degrees Celsius. Thanks to a Hungarian solution, water consumption has dropped by half.

As the Country Director of HTCC, I have been doing my research in Morocco since 2015. Here, I also deal with business development for Hungary and Morocco. Then, a big idea came to my mind. During the World Climate Expo in Marrakech, I have introduced the results of my experiments, in addition to the carbon dioxide irrigation in the open air, which has received an innovation award in 2016. Therefore, we have our miraculous hybrid for the international success, the accelerating and life-giving CO2 technology and the Hungarian solution that ensures lower water consumption. Furthermore, the artificial rain model by nuclear and laser physicists is under development.

After two forums in Budapest, all this will be introduced in Morocco at the 3rd Summit of the Sahara Scholars (3S). The event will take place in Dakhla, at the gates of the desert, on September 27-28, 2018. We hope that the event will be under royal patronage. A team of Hungarian, Polish, Vietnamese, Indian, Canadian, Spanish, Portuguese, Moroccan, and Beninese scientists and specialists are ready to face the challenge, which is the realization of the first element of the GSP that will cost 620 million US dollars.

'Relics of Africa' Exhibition Opened in Sárospatak

A celebratory memorial was held for Dr Géza Füssi-Nagy on September 25 in Sárospatak. Dr Füssi-Nagy was the founder of the African Hungarian Union.

The opening ceremony of the exhibition bearing the title Relics of Africa in Sárospatak took place on the 25th of September at the Rákóczi Museum in Sárospatak. A current member of the African Hungarian Union, Sándor Balogh, told visitors, who were already greeted by the museum’s director, Edit Tamás, that without Géza Füssi-Nagy, scientific and civil interest towards Africa might not be the same in Hungary as it is today, thanks to him.

ABOUT DR GÉZA FÜSSI-NAGY

Dr Füssi-Nagy was a professor at the Eötvös Loránd University of Sciences at the Applied Linguistics Department for almost four decades and was also the head of the university’s research programme since 1992.

Apart from his contribution to the scientific scene in Hungary, he placed great emphasis on expanding the knowledge of Hungarians about Africa. Therefore, he organised several scientific and informative talks, participated in professional presentations, exhibitions, conferences and other events centred on Africa.

In 1992, Géza Füssi-Nagy laid down the foundations of the African Hungarian Union, with the aims of collecting and spreading information about traditions as well as current and modern issues.

In 1999 he became a member of the Friends of Tanzania Foundation. His biggest contribution at this organisation was the renovation of the Roman Catholic church at Buru, along with the building of an all-girls middle school belonging to the local episcope.

DR GÉZA FÜSSI-NAGY’S HERITAGE: THE AFRICAN HUNGARIAN UNION

In 2007, Füssi-Nagy’s research programme focusing on Africa was suspended, but not much later the accreditation of this Master’s programme has started at ELTE and finally in 2016, eight years after his death, Füssi-Nagy’s dream came true: the Hungarian Africa Subcommittee came into being in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Since it was established, the African Hungarian Union launched 19 medical missions to Africa, and the 20th is already in preparation.

Apart from these missions, several humanitarian programmes were carried out on the African continent.

The head of AHU said the following in remembrance of the professor: ‘They say that man without knowledge is like a zebra without stripes. Dr Füssi-Nagy left a tremendous amount of knowledge for us so that we will never become stripeless zebras’.

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The GLOBS is the only magazine in Hungary that focuses on global affairs and trade. The topics cover the different aspects of social life, business and culture (especially business culture), research and development, investment opportunities, charity initiatives, and the everyday life of the diplomatic delegations.
 
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