Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rival leaders court the 'kingmaker of the right'.

As predicted, both Livni and Netanyahu now find themselves dancing at the court of the quasi fascist, Lieberman, in the hope of forming a government.

Mr Lieberman has emerged as one of the main beneficiaries of Tuesday's vote, with a probable 15 seats and considerable power to make or break each leader's chances of forming a government. He met each of them in Jerusalem yesterday, without committing to either.

His apparent indispensability casts serious doubt on whether any government capable of negotiating a peace deal with the Palestinians can emerge from the current political imbroglio.

Lieberman walked out of the Olmert's cabinet because he objected to any negotiations with the Palestinians, so one can only fear for what peace prospects will be left for any government which relies on Lieberman's support in order to function.

The election of Obama offers, I think, the greatest chance to achieve peace in the Middle East for decades. Here, at last, we have an American leader who is willing to support Israel but also to recognise the suffering of the Palestinians.

The results of this election could not have been worse in my eyes. It places an intractable fascist in the role of king maker.

The people of Israel simply are out of step with the mood of the times, and especially out of step with the message coming from the Obama camp.

On the pronounced shift to the right demonstrated by the election results, the prominent Haaretz commentator Aluf Benn said yesterday: "The Obama message of new hope and new energy in the peace process failed to reach Israeli voters."

Israel has surged to the right and, in doing so, has made the achievement of peace ten times harder.

Mr Netanyahu has little interest in negotiations on a "final status" deal with the Palestinians. Ms Livni is likely to find herself heavily constrained if she depends for survival on Mr Lieberman – and possibly, despite its stated preference for Mr Netanyahu, on the right-wing ultra orthodox party Shas, which now has 11 seats.

It no longer matters whether Livni or Netanyahu or becomes Israel's Prime Minister as, whoever does so, will now be constrained by their need to please Lieberman in order to stay in power. Netanyahu would find this easier to do as he does not believe in peace. Livni would find her government horribly restrained were she ever to gain power on Lieberman's back.

For Obama, and for anyone hoping for a peace deal in the Middle East, the results of this election simply couldn't have been worse.

Perhaps some will argue that Israel will now negotiate from a position of strength, but my fear is that Israel will now refuse to negotiate at all.

Click title for full article.

No comments: