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Israelis, Palestinians Assess US Election Impact

President Barack Obama makes a statement to reporters about the suspicious packages found on U.S. bound planes, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington (file photo - 29 Oct 2010)

Israelis and Palestinians are assessing the impact of the U.S. midterm elections on bilateral relations and the Middle East peace process.

Relations between Israel and the Obama administration have been tense because of disagreements over Jewish settlement expansion. So the conventional wisdom is that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives would help restrain a U.S. administration that many Israelis see as hostile.

But Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon sees things differently.

"Israel has always been a consensus; we are a bipartisan issue. We have support from both Democrats and Republicans, so for Israel it does not matter whatsoever what party occupies the White House, what party has the majority in Congress," Ayalon said.

Many Palestinians agree. They say the United States always supports Israel no matter which party is in power.

A Palestinian businessman in East Jerusalem, Farouk Youssef, says the new U.S. Congress should take a more even-handed approach.

"I think the United States of America should think about the Palestinians," Youssef said. "If the Israelis will insist in denying the rights of the Palestinians, I think the role of the United States should be more constructive."

Israeli political analyst David Ricci says the election weakened President Barack Obama, and that will translate into less U.S. involvement in the Middle East conflict.

"Obama has these other big projects that he has to take care of first," noted Ricci. "He has to take care of Iraq, he has to take care of Afghanistan, he has to take care of the economy, he has to take care of the health plan, he has to take care of the Democratic Party; and we are not very high on the list."

And since the United States is widely seen as the only one who can mediate an agreement, Ricci believes the U.S. elections do not bode well for the peace process.