A BYU visiting professor says Israel has a history of dependency, and current history is no exception.

"Israel is filled with people waiting to make up their minds," said Ira Sharkansky, visiting professor of political science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Sharkansky said Israel's current political situation lends itself to indecision and dependency on other factions.

The most recent elections in Israel gave the Likud party 40 of 120 seats in parliament, while its chief opposition, former Prime Minister Shimon Peres' Labor party, gained 39.

Of the remaining 41 seats, the parliament is split fairly equally between the left and right. "It's not clear who won the election. The Li-kud has the edge, but it's a very small one."

This political situation contributes to a "waffling" environment, in which the country takes no clear position. The country's weak resolve leaves Israel in the same weak position as it has been historically.

"For a brief time, during the kingdoms of David and Solomon, Israel was able to assert itself. Throughout the rest of its history it has been weak and dependent," he said.

The country's economy is on the brink of four-digit inflation, putting Israel close to economic chaos, Sharkansky said.

Yet despite the economic woes, the number one item on the political agenda is dealing with the recent Palestinian uprisings. The Labor party still controls defense, but it's not the Peres wing of the party. In fact, Peres is almost completely out of the network of Israeli foreign policy.

Although the Labor party wants to solve the PLO problem, Peres is not willing to speak to the PLO directly. Instead, lower-profile members of the party are meeting with the organization. Publicly, however, politicians refuse to invite any sort of dialogue. "They are not willing to talk to the PLO, and they do not include a `yet' in their stipulation."

Recent indications by the PLO that Israel has the right to exist do not increase Israeli trust in the Palestinians. Terrorism is still a fresh image in Israeli minds. They also don't know to what extent Yassar Arafat can speak to Palestinians.

For now, neither side offers any hints of constructive dialogue.

The indecision puts Israel in a status quo position, offering no real constructive change. "The status quo is by no means the most popular answer, but neither is anything else. The status quo is nobody's first choice, but it's a lot of people's second choice, so it becomes the standard practice."