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Wed Jan 23, 2013, 03:42 PM

Obama’s Silver Lining in Israel: Elections Weaken Netanyahu

Jan 23, 2013 7:03 AM EST

Israel’s doves may have lost and Netanyahu will remain prime minister, but it isn’t all bad news for Obama—Bibi’s weaker. The power has shifted toward America, writes Peter Beinart.

When most Americans hear the results of yesterday’s Israeli elections, they’ll be confused. When Barack Obama hears them, however, he should feel at least a little hope.

It’s not because doves won. They didn’t. Yes, Israel’s furthest left Jewish party, Meretz, looks set to double its seats from 3 to 6. But Naftali Bennett’s pro-settler Jewish Home jumped from 3 to 11. Tzipi Livni, the major candidate most passionate about creating a Palestinian state—and the woman whose party in 2009 bested Likud by one seat—is now a virtual afterthought. The Labor Party almost doubled its seats by focusing on economic equality and ignoring the peace process. Yair Lapid, Israel’s new political star—whose party unexpectedly came in second—also focused on domestic issues. And when Lapid did talk about the Palestinians, what he said was better than Netanyahu, but hardly inspiring. Oh yes, and Netanyahu is almost certain to remain prime minister.

Yesterday’s election, in other words, crystallized a trend that’s been building for several years. Partly because of Israeli despair over the Palestinians’ willingness to make peace, and partly because of the Palestinian security cooperation that has helped curb terrorism from the West Bank, many Israelis have turned inward and begun acting politically as if the Palestinians don’t exist. In fact, they acted in this campaign as if Iran barely exists either.

But for Obama, what offers reason for hope is this: Netanyahu is weaker. As he tries to assemble a government in the coming weeks, the Israeli leader faces two unappetizing options. The first is a small coalition dominated by right-wing and religious parties. If he goes this route, his government will be dominated by people who want to murder the two-state solution and hold a party to stomp on its grave. Netanyahu will have to spend much of his time trying to prevent Naftali Bennett and his far-right Jewish Home Party from making good on their promise to annex most of the West Bank, a position that many of the Likud candidates elected alongside Netanyahu share. Such a government would be so unpopular across the world, and even in much of the American Jewish community, that Obama would find it easier to publicly express his displeasure. And such a small coalition, facing so much global disdain, would find it hard to survive for long.



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Reply Obama’s Silver Lining in Israel: Elections Weaken Netanyahu (Original post)
DonViejo Jan 2013 OP
BlueDemKev Jan 2013 #1

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 06:16 PM

1. Yeah, it looks like the best Bibi can do at this point...

...if he wants a secure gov't is to forge a national unity gov't with the Labor Party and other centrist parties (much like they had in Israel in the late 1980s).

Still, I'm very disappointed that the Israeli people re-elected Netanyahu. It will only further delay the creation of a Palestinian State, which is long overdue.

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