“Russia is ready to accept any election results in Israel, but if the current configuration of the government and parliament is preserved, there is a chance to maintain continuity in bilateral relations,” said Anatoly Viktorov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Israel, during an expert discussion, held at Valdai Club on March 3.
The current parliamentary elections in Israel are the third in one year. Opening the discussion, Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club, noted that the elections should not be considered outside the Middle East context.
According to Yacov Livne, Chargé d'Affaires of Israel in the Russian Federation, the turnout was unexpectedly high, which indicates citizens’ faith in democracy and their desire to influence the political processes and the future of the country. On the other hand, the unpredictability of small parties, the ongoing corruption scandals and the polymorphism of the party system speaks of a certain crisis of parliamentary democracy in the country, said Tatyana Karasova, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Israel, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The experts also discussed the so-called “deal of the century”, the project of the United States and President Donald Trump on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement. According to Viktorov, the value of the project lies in actualization of the problem, but its vision looks somewhat one-sided. He also said that Russia is not against the involvement of regional powers and is ready to resume work within the framework of the Middle East Quartet.
In general, experts concluded that although the current elections are unlikely to bring changes to Russian-Israeli relations, the future government will have to respond to many foreign policy challenges in connection with Syria, Iran and Lebanon.
The speakers also included Zvi Magen, Senior Research Fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and Israeli ambassador to Russia in 1998-1999, and Yuri Kanner, President of the Russian Jewish Congress.