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Yearbook 2015

2015 IsraelIsrael. Ahead of the extra-ordinary parliamentary elections on March 17, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that a two-state solution would not be a reality as long as he remained in power. It was last year that Netanyahu disbanded Parliament and announced that a new election would be held. According to COUNTRYAAH, the electoral movement was largely about security policy but also about economic and social issues.

In March, Netanyahu traveled to the United States to invite Republicans to talk about "the threat from Iran". US President Barack Obama responded to the visit, which had not been announced to the White House, by refusing to meet Netanyahu, who was accused at home of damaging Israel-US relations. During the election campaign, Netanyahu also received criticism from government teams for using state funds for private purposes.

2015 Israel

Despite the criticism, Netanyahu won an unexpectedly strong victory in the parliamentary elections and, after seven weeks of negotiations, was able to form government with the support of the newly formed center-right party Kulanu and the resident-friendly right-wing party Beit Yehudi (Jewish home), which profiled itself as strong opponents of a two-state solution. The government also included the two ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and the United Torah Party. Together, the five government parties got 61 of Knesset's 120 seats, 30 of which went to the Prime Minister's right Likud. Ahead of the election, the two largest opposition parties (the Labor Party and Hatnua) had joined forces in the left-liberal alliance of the Zionist Union, which ended up in second place with 24 seats.

At the beginning of the year, military confrontations occurred at the border with Lebanon between the Israeli military and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, accused of planning attacks against Israel. In January, several high-ranking leaders in the movement were killed, who responded by attacking Israeli military vehicles.

In January, a Palestinian from Hebron was sentenced to life imprisonment for last summer's assassination of three Israeli youths, an event that became the starting point for the war in Gaza that lasted for just over two months and where about 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis died. Shortly after Palestine became an official member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in January, the court opened its first investigation into possible war crimes committed by Israel during last summer's Gaza war.

Despite harsh criticism and condemnations from the outside world, during the year, clear signs were given for the construction of several new settlements on Palestinian land, including in East Jerusalem. In February, a legal process was completed against a settlement on the West Bank where Israeli settlers were accused of having built illegal housing on private Palestinian land.

In May, several demonstrations were held in Tel Aviv against racism and discrimination, which gathered thousands of Israelis of mainly Ethiopian origin. The demonstration was held in connection with the publication of a video showing how an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin is being abused by two police officers. When police stormed the demonstration, at least 50 people were injured.

At the end of July, several people were stabbed by an ultra-Orthodox Jew who attacked a Pride Parade in Jerusalem. The event gave rise to demonstrations in major cities such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. Demonstrations were also held to draw attention to an Israeli terrorist attack in the Palestinian village of Duma on the West Bank, where a small child was killed in a massacre set on fire by militant settlers. The incident was described as a revenge attack because the suspected settlers had written "long live the Messiah" and "revenge" in Hebrew on the house walls.

During the autumn, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians around the Temple Mount in Jerusalem intensified. Violent clashes also occurred in the West Bank's largest city Hebron. During the fall, fatalities and knife attacks occurred almost every day in central Hebron, where a few hundred Israeli settlers lived surrounded by 250,000 Palestinians.

In November, the EU adopted guidelines to originate goods from Israeli settlements. The decision was condemned by the Israeli government, which canceled several meetings with the EU. The Israeli Peace Now movement welcomed the decision and said it was an important support for the democratic forces in Israel.

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