Friday, November 7, 2008

What CHANGE means for Israel.

With Senator Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential race, the stakes have been raised for Israel's February 10 general elections.

Whatever the incoming Obama administration's position on Israel may be, it will not be more supportive of the country than the Bush administration has been.

If Israel's next prime minister intends to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to implement its stated aim of destroying Israel, he or she must be prepared to stand up to America. Indeed, the greatest diplomatic challenge he or she will likely face will be standing up to a popular new President Obama, supported by large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and the overwhelming majority of American Jewish voters.

Over the past few days, the two contenders for premiership — Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu — have demonstrated their starkly contrasting views of how to deal with a potentially hostile administration in Washington. Reacting to Obama's electoral victory on Wednesday, Livni made clear that from her perspective, the best way to deal with an unfriendly White House is to preemptively surrender Israel's national interests.

In her words, Israel's election results "must reflect the country's interest in advancing the peace process, otherwise the international community, headed by the US, will try and push us in this direction."

For their part, Netanyahu and Likud have shown that if defending Israel's national interests requires a confrontation with Washington, they will not shy away from it. Last week, Netanyahu's surrogate MK Yuval Steinitz informed both US presidential campaigns that in the event that outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledges to surrender the Golan Heights to Syria, a Likud-led government will not respect his pledge.


handley01 said...

You note in your blog that the vast majority of Americas Jewish population voted for Obama. I do not think that American policy to Israel will change substantially however when it comes to a confrontation with Iran over Israel. The reaction of the Obama presidency is problematic. This will be no time for appeasment otherwise we may find ourselves in a nuclear war in the middle east. Remember Chamberlain's pronoucement of "peace in our time" prior to WW II. Likud has shown in the past a hawkish attitude to its dealing with Isreals enemies and is probably going to assume the reigns of government on Olmerts exit.

Joaquin said...

The upcoming election in Israel will clearly tell us the outlook of the Israeli people about a future where the US isn't solidly behind Israel.
My fear is that we have elected a President that will be slow in decision making especially in foreign relations. What I call paralysis through analysis.