Israeli election race is all about politics and cost of living, leaving public health, pollution and natural resources far behind

Prof. Adi Wolfson
Published: 12.23.12

The Israeli election campaign is in full throttle but important issues like air quality, public health and the allocation of natural resources in Israel have yet to be mentioned.

How can it be that these essential issues are cast aside when it comes to ballots? Paradoxically, it is because the majority of the political parties agree on environmental issues, meaning none of them have a unique platform to offer voters.

Moreover, environmental issues take a back seat to the other headlines dominating the news cycles, such as security threats and the economic crisis. And it is hard to gain immediate political capital from environmental investments for the benefit of future generations.

The answer, however, is simpler: Parties and public officials don’t care about things the voters don’t care about. So don’t complain when you vote for someone and then nothing happens.

Our day-to-day reality – including the prices of food, water, gas and electricity – is affected by environmental issues. That is why we have to look at our environmental reality when we come to cast our ballot and that is why we have to demand that our elected officials do the same – regardless of who wins the elections.

The public debate ahead of the nearing elections has to focus on preparing a long-term blueprint for energy infrastructure. So mach has been said about the potential of renewable energy in Israel, like solar and wind energy. This is not just a question of reducing air pollution, it also has to do with conserving resources and energy efficiency, the effects on soil and reducing environmental impact.

Such a blueprint will allow the State to manage the energy sector sans any pressure from entrepreneurs; ensuring the public a steady supply of reliable, cheap and greener energy.

Apart from the soaring housing, gas, water and electricity prices, which are sure to be leading issues in the election campaign, the security threats Israel faces are likely to lead any debate.

The latter will naturally affect the future defense budget, but an issue that you won’t hear about is the IDF’s environmental footprint – which can be vastly reduced by ventures like linking military bases to solar energy grids and water reclamation facilities. Why can’t those considerations be made a part of the plan to build the new military training bases “city” in the Negev?

Creating a national environmental policy and implementing it are a necessity – not a privilege; and the complexity of the issue requires the close cooperation of all government bureaus, as well as local authorities and the public, because these interests transcend politics.

We have to form an environmental cabinet or a national authority to that effect, that will lead the implementation of green policies; but unless you care about that on Election Day – they parties won’t either.

Prof. Adi Wolfson is Head of the Chemical Engineering Department at SCE College of Engineering,7340,L-4323032,00.html