Jan 18 2013

 

 

 

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With all that is going on in the world, the Israeli elections have seem to taken a back seat in most Americans minds. Daily Beast columnist and television commentator Robert Shrum writes that the results of that election is likely to bring bad news for President Obama and the peace process. Shrum writes directly about the consequences of a continued right ward shift in Israeli politics. Read the entire article by clicking here but following are some excerpts.

Shrum writes:

"Israel holds an election on Jan. 22, and here is the almost certain outcome: after more than half a decade that has been very good politically for Benjamin Netanyahu—and very bad for the country’s long-term security—things will get worse as the results push or empower the Israeli prime minister and his coalition to take a harder, even more intransigent line. That, in turn, could leave the Jewish state "a lone tree in a desert," as President Shimon Peres has warned.

We have strayed far from the path toward peace forged in the 1990s by Peres and Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated by one of his own countrymen in the square in Tel Aviv that now bears his name. It was in that same square, three years later, that 300,000 Israelis spontaneously gathered to celebrate the end of Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister and the landslide triumph of Ehud Barak, who was determined to resume and finish Rabin’s work.

With Bill Clinton playing a central role, Barak ultimately offered Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat an agreement that shortly before would have been unthinkable in Israeli politics: the return of most of the West Bank, with compensating land swaps, and a portion of Jerusalem’s Old City. Arafat finally rejected the settlement, hard-bargained at Camp David and then Taba on the Red Sea, just as Clinton was leaving office. Arafat did call the president to tell him he was a great man. No, Clinton recalled replying in his memoirs: “I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you made me one.”

Shrum talks about the emerging right wing in that nation's politics:

"To maximize his prospects against an opposition in disarray, he [Netanyahu]merged his party with the ultra-nationalist Beiteinu. That party is headed by Netanyahu’s foreign minister, a refugee from the former Soviet Union who disdainfully rejects anything other than token territorial concessions and has derided Arabs in near-racist terms.

The lurch to the right was then reinforced by the Likud primaries, which decided the rank order of candidates. They run as a national slate and the number of seats a party claims reflects its share of the popular vote. You go to the Knesset if you are high enough on the list.

What happened in those primaries is similar to the Tea Party dominance in so many Republican primaries. Danny Danon, who moved up to sixth on the list from 24th in the last election, rejects a two-state solution and would annex huge swathes of Palestinian territory, leaving the Palestinians semi-landless. Moshe Feiglin, who is 15th on the list and sure to get a seat, proposes rebuilding the ancient Temple, a move that would spark a conflagration with the Muslim world as Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock came crashing down.

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Also harrowing: A recent poll shows that a new extremist party called Jewish Home could chalk up 16 seats. The party's leader, Naftali Bennett (Photograph above), is an American-born centi-millionaire who resembles a younger, fitter Sheldon Adelson. Bennett says the conflict with the Palestinians is “insoluble” and sounds almost happy about it. He insists: "There is not going to be a Palestinian state in the tiny land of Israel.”

The final surveys show the “hard-line bloc” winning a comfortable majority of 67 to 72 seats. The trend, as American pollster Mark Mellman writes, doesn't point to the rejection of a Clinton/Barak-like agreement; 68 percent of Israelis would support it, about the same numbers we saw in 2000. Rather, that Israelis are “divided within” themselves, believing that peace is not possible.""