Israeli Election And Obama

Date of Publication : Monday 16 February 2009 05:00
Israeli Election  And Obama

  By Pir-Mohammad Mollazehi
Israeli parliamentary elections can be scrutinized from different angles. The failure of the main political parties to garner the majority of votes, and the imbalances in their political and social appeal hint at realities which could affect regional developments.
The Kadima Party won only one seat more than Likud and so Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and head of Kadima has started consultations with other smaller parties to put together a coalition government. However, no serious change has occurred compared to the recent past when she tried but failed to form a coalition to oust the corruption-plagued prime minister Ehud Olmert.
It is likely that this time too she cannot form a government and Likud will take up the job in cooperation with a variety of rightists. The small but ant-Arab party of ÔIsrael Our HomeÕ led by Avigdor Lieberman, with its visible fanatical and fascist leanings, surprisingly beat Labor in the vote count and has emerged as a player that cannot be ignored.
This is indeed a serious and dangerous development in Israel. Although the Knesset elections in its entirety demonstrated some sort of confusion within the Israeli public opinion, it did expose a major shifttoward the radical right.
This implies a defeat for whatever is left of the so-called Middle East peace plan or the plan to establish a Palestinian state--a darling agenda of ObamaÕs project for the volatile region.
Today the question is to what extent the war in Gaza underpinned the war-mongers in Israel, and to what extent it undermined the camp that seems to be willing to give peace a chance and work toward a two state solution.
Irrespective of what message the Israeli parliamentary elections convey, the impact of the three-week onslaught on helpless Gaza simply cannot be overlooked. It seems that war-mongers and opponents of peace have a relative advantage in Israel, but this is not so at the international level, especially in the US.
It would be fair to claim that at present the US and IsraelÕs ultra-rightists pursue two different interpretations of the vote. The importance of this issue is that the two said sides are undergoing a major test. Only political pressure from Washington can lead to a Kadima-led coalition taking power and keep the fast diminishing hope for peace from vanishing completely.
If for any reason the US is unable or unwilling to help Livni and Kadima forge a coalition however shaky, and Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud take power in partnership with the hawkish Lieberman, the scale and scope of AmericaÕs influence and the two-state solution will face serious obstacles.
The theories that there is hardly any difference between Kadima and Likud, or the centrist right and radical right may at best be superficial, and do not explain regional realities.
If Netanyahu and Lieberman rule in the occupied lands, Gaza will be visited by many more tragedies. At the same time the fortification of Hamas and growth of radicalism among Palestinians cannot be ignored.
The Middle East is oscillating between war and peace. Indecision and inability in treading on the right path on both sides will produce more radicalism and hostility. The Middle East crises indeed will be a major test of President ObamaÕs intention to bring change to the way America does business with the outside world.
Story Code: 37410