In February Israelis went to the polls to choose a new government.
The result was a stalemate and as expected no party came even close to receiving a majority in parliament. The Kadima Party led by the Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livni, narrowly won the most votes, but the Likud party led by Binyamin Netanyahu received the backing of several parties which together could form a majority government.
President Shimon Peres invited Binyamin Netanyahu to form the next government and according to the constitution he has six weeks to put together a workable coalition.
Parties traditionally supported by kibbutz members suffered major reverses and will have to undergo some form of reorganization and build new strategies.
It is hoped that the new government will lead Israel along the path of peace and prosperity.
President Obama has already sent his Middle Eastern envoy to the region to sound out the various governments and interested groups. Once this fact finding mission has completed its review, the USA is expected to take an active role in pushing the peace process forward.
On the economic front, the USA and other governments have approved stimulus packages in an effort to kick start the world economy. Economists believe that the results of these efforts will only begin to be felt in the last quarter of 2009.
Some notable news items involving kibbutzim are as follows:
The Kibbutz Movement ( KM)
The KM is an umbrella organization that provides guidance and services to the kibbutzim in the social, educational, cultural and economic fields.
The kibbutzim pay an annual membership fee and in this way finance the running of the umbrella organization.
The KM is also an important factor when dealing with government and semi-government institutions and assists in ensuring a fair hearing for the kibbutzim as a whole.
A major recent achievement is the government acceptance of mortgage finance for building on kibbutzim. All other citizens in Israel have been entitled to mortgages for many years. In the past the kibbutzim could only obtain loans for this purpose. Final government approval for mortgage finance is expected soon.
Notwithstanding the ongoing regional tensions, Israelis and Palestinians maintain a continuous dialog at many levels.
Exports of Palestinian products are often transported by road to Israeli ports for export around the world. Export taxes collected by the Israeli government are refunded and transferred to the Palestinian Authority.
Jews and Arabs conduct dialogs on matters of mutual interest in many countries in the world.
The Kibbutz movement runs the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva in the North of Israel where varied activities take place with the joint participation of Israeli Jews and Arabs.
The Eastern Galilee area was recently chosen for the establishment of a medical research institute. As the area has a large Israeli - Arab population and numerous kibbutzim it will provide jobs and opportunities for both these communities.
The kibbutzim have a lot to offer families with young children and these immigrant families are seen as an essential part of the future development of the kibbutz communities.
Several kibbutzim are interested in attracting new immigrants as well as Israelis who have the professions necessary to drive the communities forward.
Volunteers from all over the world are invited to apply to work on a kibbutz and at the same time experience life in Israel.
The kibbutz experience combined with the exposure to life in Israel will allow the volunteer to take in the social and cultural aspects and witness a country that holds out an olive branch while defending its citizens.
The Kibbutz Economy
The kibbutz economy has been hard hit by the global recession.
Kibbutz companies have had to take measures to ensure survival in a stagnant global economy. Large scale reduction of expenses, postponement of investments and staff layoffs are the order of the day as kibbutz businesses struggle towards the next economic upturn.
Sport is an important activity on kibbutzim and teams supported by kibbutzim have recently excelled at basketball in local competitions.
Tennis, soccer, swimming and rugby are keen sports on many kibbutzim.
Israeli's have excelled at many international sporting events including tennis. The recent measures taken by the international Women's Tennis Association against the United Arab Emirates for its refusal to grant Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer a visa is very refreshing and essential for keeping sports separate from politics.
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