News / Middle East

Analysts: Israeli Election Could Impact Obama-Netanyahu Relationship

Meredith Buel
Middle East analysts say the results of this week’s Israeli elections could set the stage for an improved relationship with Washington and impact the future of peace talks with the Palestinians and efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear program.  
Yair Lapid is the new star of Israeli politics. The 49-year-old former television host burst onto the political scene with his centrist party capturing second place in parliamentary elections and positioning himself as a power broker in the formation of the next government.
Analysts say the vote was a rebuke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His conservative ticket lost seats in the new parliament despite placing first.
The Israeli vote came as U.S. President Barack Obama was inaugurated for a second term.
Analysts say his leadership style is bolder since reelection.
Robert Satloff is Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "It is absolutely true that Netanyahu’s success was not as great as Obama’s success, but it is a different political environment," he said. 
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have had a rocky relationship.  
But that could improve if Mr. Netanyahu forms a government open to talks with the Palestinians.
Jerusalem-based analyst David Ricci said, “It won’t be a moderate government but it will be compelled, I think, by international pressure to re-open negotiations.  I think the president of the United States is very interested in that.”
After Obama's inauguration, White House spokesman Jay Carney repeated the president’s policy. “What needs to take place are direct negotiations between the two parties that address the final-status issues and that result in a two-state solution," he said. 
But some Palestinians in the West Bank are skeptical that a new Israeli government will be a positive development.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said, “While the Palestinian leadership has reaffirmed its immediate readiness to engage in negotiations on the basis of clear parameters, Israel, however, has instead persisted in its path of occupation, conflict and fear mongering.”
If there is a centrist government, Mr. Netanyahu may be under less pressure for a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. 
The Obama administration is hoping a combination of sanctions and diplomacy will avert an armed confrontation.
“The Israelis are willing to let the United States play this out, play Obama’s strategy out, to the very end and see whether the Obama strategy succeeds in convincing Iran to negotiate an end to its military nuclear program," said Robert Satloff
It's likely to take weeks to form a new coalition government, and Yair Lapid is expected to be right in the middle of the negotiations. 

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Comment Sorting
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 25, 2013 7:56 PM
Jews, Greeks, Basque, Kurds, Persians (Iranian), Hindu, Chinese, Japanese, aboriginal peoples, etc are all ancestral people; they can trace their cultures to specific areas for well over 3000+ years, some go back 6000+ years; such people must have the right to live on/over/under their ancestral lands. Such people need to be protected and allowed to live in peace on their ancestral lands. Some of these peolple have been diplaced by empires, but that does not lessen their will/right to return to their native lands. Israel is the only country in the world that is the craddle of the Jewish culture; it finds itself under continuos threat. About 1/3 of the Jewish population of Israel are direct refugees or decendant of refugees from Muslim countries from which they were expelled/persecuted. About 1/3 are descendants or refugees from the European Holocaust, the remainder are descendants from regional Jews. The expulsion of the Jews, from their ancestral lands started, with the Roman empire. During the Christian Crusades, Jews were amongst those persecuted by the crusaders in Jerusalem and nearby areas. The Ottoman empire also shows large numbers of Jews still living in the present day Israel. Israel is a multiethnic/religeous state. Many uneducated people, quite often due to bias, are not aware that 1/3+ of Israel's population is Muslim, ~1.5 milion Muslims live in Israel with full rights accorded to as Israeli citizens; in addition ~200,000+ other religeous minorities live as Israeli citizens, such as Catholics, Copts, Orthodox Christians, Armenian Christians, Bahai, etc. A testament of Isreal's committment to multi-ethnicity not equalled or reciprocated anywere in the ME. Israel is the only recognized democracy in all the ME.
Islamists, nazis, fascist and even some communists will always try to some how blame the victim for the crimes committed by them against the victim. Unfortunately, these people are biased, uneducated or outright racists; some are even more unfortunate; their senseless hatred is self demonstrable by their biased rethoric.

by: JohnWV from: USA
January 25, 2013 7:10 AM
Since Imperial Rome, it has happened again and again. Jews enraged their neighbors and repeatedly suffered disastrous pogroms. Excesses of Weimar Germany's monied Jewish minority led to the most recent which Israel promotes, actually advertises, as justification for its apartheid malevolence. “Never again” is lost on Netanyahu's Israel. Blind to history, its paranoid pursuit of invulnerability, territorial conquest and supremacist empire in, and beyond, the Mideast ensures “again” on a far grander scale. Abandoning and aggressively isolating the Jewish state could force it abandon its grandiose aspirations and thereby avert its destruction. There is no greater or kinder support that America could render to both the Mideast and its “inseparable Mideast ally.”

by: Lightharry from: Frankfurt
January 25, 2013 5:25 AM
It does not appear that the United States has much control over the decisions in the ME. It appears that all decisions are made in Israel. American politicians fall in line when Netanyahu calls. Is there anyone out there working for the interest of the United States.

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