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Monday, October 25, 2010

Israelis and 'Palestinians' finally agree on something

Israelis and 'Palestinians' both agree that a Republican victory in Tuesday's elections is likely to weaken President Obama and make him unable to put pressure on Israel.
"We think that if President Obama emerges strong from this election, then this will enable him to work more on foreign policy," Palestinian Authority negotiator Nabil Sha'ath told The Associated Press. "If he and his party lose in the elections, then this will limit his ability to pressure and actively engage in foreign policy. This is the problem."

Although Israeli officials avoid discussing the topic publicly for fear of alienating its most important ally, there is a foreboding sense in Israel that punishment is on the way — especially if Obama emerges unscathed.

Nahum Barnea, a respected and widely-read columnist, put it this way in Friday's Yediot Ahronot: "The problem is the disgust and rage that the Israeli refusal sparked in the administration — a rage that is being suppressed at the moment, but which will erupt in full force on November 3, after the elections to Congress. The Americans are seeking the logic behind the refusal ... and are finding nothing."

But if recent polls are proved accurate and Republicans take one or both houses of Congress, a chastened president might be too busy or weakened to pressure Jerusalem much, the thinking goes.

If Congress tilts Republican it could have a "positive impact" on Israeli concerns, one adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told The AP — an allusion to avoiding pressure for concessions. With the Democrats weakened, Israel's friends in Congress — both Democrat and Republican — "would be able to have a stronger voice if the administration should embark on a policy that is less favorable to Israel," he added.
Only analyst David Makovsky shares my concern that too big a victory by the Republicans could effectively make Obama a lame duck immediately and leave him free to pressure Israel as much as he wants.
David Makovsky, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said a hypothetical Republican majority could be a "profound constraint" on Obama's ability to push Israel to make concessions for a peace deal. But he also said such thinking could backfire: "It's possible that the net effect of his losing the ability to pass domestic legislation might make him a 100 percent foreign policy president," said Makovsky, whose think tank has good relations with Israel.
But at the moment, that scenario seems unlikely. Polls now indicate that it's highly likely the Republicans will recapture the House, while it is unlikely they will capture control of the Senate (although they will narrow the Democratic majority there).

A little more than a week to go....


At 6:55 AM, Blogger Moriah said...

. "We think that if President Obama emerges strong from this election, then this will enable him to work more on foreign policy,"

Let the cheating begin ...


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