With the dust settling from last night’s election, I received an e-mail from Tel Aviv about what President Obama’s re-election means for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I’ll post what I imagine will be a much different companion e-mail from Jerusalem just as soon as it arrives, but I found this missive to be–in that salty Israeli way–somewhat revelatory. Here’s what it said about Netanyahu:
His dangerous gamble might cost Israel in the long run as he has certainly worked at undermining the bipartisan consensus on Israel. Obama seemed intent, at least in his first term, to throw a huge amount of clout and resources into shoring up the relationship militarily, and I assume this will last, at least for a while.
Bibi seems in a pretty good position, with Moshe Kahlon announcing this week he is taking a sabbatical, after suspicions that he would start his own party and surveys suggesting he would garner a significant number of seats, mostly at the expense of the Likkud and Shas. That was the only foreseeable hope of defeating Bieberman, as far as I can see. Even if Tzipi [Livni] enters the race it’s just to fight over former Kadima voters. The right-wing bloc remains huge and fairly monolithic.
I don’t think Bibi will change policy on any front or look to any new initiatives- did you see in Ha’aretz that the cabinet is considering expanding settlements as punishment for Abbas if he goes to the UN? That sound like a government that even considers the two state solution a good idea?
The fact that this letter didn’t include a peep about Iran is very interesting to me. Also, there is little immediate fear that Israel is going to lose American support, which means that, for some, both presidential candidates did a good job of conveying their message about the endurance of the “special relationship.” Lastly, it’s uncommon to hear the blame for any would-be fissures between the United States and Israel heaped so squarely on the shoulders of Netanyahu. I’m sure MANY will disagree with that idea, but with the election finally over, I would not be surprised if that argument picks up steam in places beyond the White City.