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Don't expect a second-term Obama to take on Israel

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opednews.com Headlined to None 11/14/12

And, of course, both want to box in Iran on its nuclear ambitions. So far Netanyahu has reluctantly toed the US line on "giving sanctions a chance," toning down his rhetoric about launching an attack. The last thing the White House needs is a sulking Israeli premier priming his cohorts in Washington to undermine US policy.

A sliver of hope for Netanyahu's opponents is that a disgruntled US president might still take limited revenge, turning the tables by interfering in the Israeli elections due in January. He could back more moderate challengers such as Olmert or Tzipi Livni, if they choose to run and start to look credible.

But even that would be a big gamble.

The evidence shows that, whatever the makeup of the next Israeli governing coalition, it will espouse policies little different from the current one. That simply reflects the lurch rightwards among Israeli voters, as indicated in a poll this month showing that 80 percent now believe it is impossible to make peace with the Palestinians.

In fact, given the mood in Israel, an obvious attempt by Obama to side with one of Netanyahu's opponents might actually harm their prospects for success. Netanyahu has already demonstrated to Israelis that he can defeat the US president in a staring contest. Many Israelis are likely to conclude that no one is better placed to keep an unsympathetic Obama in check in his second term.

Faced with a popular consensus in Israel and political backing in the US Congress for a hard line with the Palestinians, Obama is an unlikely champion of the peace process -- and even of the Palestinians' current lowly ambition to win observer status at the United Nations.

A vote on this matter is currently threatened for November 29, with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas apparently hoping that the anniversary of the 1947 UN partition plan for Palestine will provide emotional resonance.

Meanwhile, all Israel's main parties are battling for the large pool of rightwing votes. Shelley Yacimovich, leader of the opposition Labor party, last week denied her party was "left-wing," in a sign of how dirty that word has become in Israel. She has studiously avoided mentioning the Palestinians or diplomatic issues.

And the great new hope of Israeli politics, former TV star Yair Lapid, has rapidly come to sound like a Netanyahu-lite. Last week he publicly opposed giving up even the Palestinian parts of East Jerusalem, arguing that the Palestinians could be browbeaten into surrendering their putative capital.

The reality is that the White House is stuck with an Israeli government, with or without Netanyahu, that rejects an agreement with the Palestinians. As tensions flare again on the Israel-Gaza border -- threatening an Israeli attack, just as occurred in the run-up to the last Israeli election -- it looks disturbingly like four more years of the same.

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www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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Israel government." I would rephrase: "The re... by Daniel Geery on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 7:03:01 PM