Who will Golan Heights voters favor?
Many of northern region's residents inclined to lend their vote to right-wing parties in effort to protect Heights' future, say such government likely to prevent any territorial concessions. Others say Barak will know how to preserve security interests, strike peace with Syria
Less the 24 hours before ballots across Israel open, the Golan Heights communities seem rather indifferent to the general elections.
Campaign ads are scarcely seen on the streets and unlike in other communities, no one is handing out political flyers at every crossroads; but nevertheless, local residents are aware of the fact that the future of the northern region may hang in the balance.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has spent his last few months in office trying to advance peace efforts in the Syrian avenue, with the help of Turkish mediators.
Many of the Heights' resident now hope who ever wins the premiership race will not push for an agreement calling for Israel cede to the Golan, while others hope that the negotiations with Syria, which have been taking place in some from or another since slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was in office, will finally come to a complete halt.
Many of the area's residents, it seems, have made up their electoral mind: "We've seen how Olmert was trying to sell the Golan in Turkey. Bibi (Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu) won't make that mistake," Aharon Abutbul, a resident of the northern town of Katzrin, told Ynet.
"Bibi has matured in the past 10 year. He knows that there are interests Israel can't compromise on. I think a lot of people have realized he is not the same Bibi and that's why they will vote for him," he added.
'We must preserve security interests'
Ziv Ribak, of the Golan Heights' community of Kidmat Zvi, will also vote for the Right: "We see how (Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor) Lieberman is gaining strength and we know that the next Knesset will favor the Right and it will not allow the ceding of the Golan, which is a strategic asset to Israel's security," he said.
But not all of the Heights' residents will lend their vote to the right-wing parties. Yaakov Raveh, a longtime Golan resident, intends to vote for the Labor party: "I believe (party Chairman Ehud) Barak will preserve our security interests and that he will be able to strike peace with Syria. Unfortunately, we will have to compromise, because you strike peace with your enemies."
Sources in the Golan Communities Council told Ynet that regardless of who is elected next prime minister of Israel, next spring is likely to see the negotiations reignite.
The council, said the source, has already began holding media workshops for local residents, so that if the time comes, they will be able to explain to both the local and world media why Israel must never agree to cede the Golan Heights, even for peace with Syria.