Saturday, November 8

The US Elections, Israel and Palestine

Ehud Barak









Tzippi Livni




The US Elections have come and gone. Many of us are pleased that Barack Obama had won these elections. For us in the Middle East and especially for Israelis and Palestinians who are desirous of a solution to this conflict that has plagued us for so long, there is perhaps a tiny light at the end of the dark tunnel of frustration. There are no guarantees of course, but there is some hope of a new order.

Israel, on the other hand, is also at the threshold of elections which will be held on 10th February 2009. While the American people voiced their opinion at the polls, showed their disgust with the Bush Administration and viewed John McCaine, the Republican candidate, as a vestige of the hated Bush Administration which explains his defeat and Obama’s landslide victory. The American people deserve the credit for voting for change. They put aside their race prejudices and this was no factor in determining the result. The Stock Exchange crash that occurred was also a factor in determining the result. Economic problems always take precedence over political considerations in determining the winner in this case.

I wish that the optimism for serious change and reform would occur after the Israeli Elections but there is no chance of that. Israelis are not that bold. The best they could do is having two failed prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud, Ehud Barak of Labor and lack luster Zippi Livni of Kadima somewhere in between. She has no achievements to her credit apart from honesty and a clean slate. This seems to be more important these days than having any policy especially in Israel. Policy wise and a direction of true reform and peace with the Palestinians are not in the lexicon of any of the candidates – let alone the pathetic political parties that they represent. The result of the pathetic Israeli elections is a forgone conclusion – a crippled coalition of the 3 main parties with the religious parties tagging on in order to gain financial benefit by extortion. No party will get an absolute majority as usual and there will be a myriad of small parties resulting in much wasted votes.

This coalition will have a right wing slant even with the tacit support of Labour who will cling to the pickings of the coalition after much bickering. Labour will be relegated to be an insignificant political factor with no ideology at all. Ehud Barak, the past prime ministerial failure is more concerned in warming his bottom as prime minister. He and his party will blend into the spineless, jelly fish-like coalition that will be unable to make any decisions for the promotion of peace with the Palestinians and to make the economic reforms that are overdue in Israel. Meretz will all but disappear or may gain at best 4-5 seats which render it ineffectual and weak especially now that it lost two of its senior members in the Knesset, Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen.

As the situation is now in Israel, there are no Zionist parties worthy of any support. Left wing Zionist parties have lost their direction. They are in total disarray and are virtually moribund. The only viable Zionism that remains today is the ideology of the Likud, Kadima and right wing. This is settler-oriented Zionism and its racists from the pseudo-Kach movements under Noam Federman, the Zionist racist, who are even prepared to fight the Israeli Army to maintain their settlements and abuse the Palestinians even further. These loutish, kippa-cladded hooligans are handled with kid gloves and are detained for a few days at most or released after a few hours by the Israeli Security forces while Palestinians who are involved in similar violence get heavy prison sentences. All this occurs under the auspices of Ehud Barak, the Minister of Defense. This loutish behaviour will drive the two-state solution even further from attainment.

If the Labour Party wishes to improve its chances, it must rid itself of Ehud Barak who is a liability and not an asset. Under Barak’s leadership, Labour will not undergo any revival. The way the settler movement has been handled and the increased theft of Palestinian lands for Jewish settlement under his auspices proves that Barak has no scruples or ideology. He takes the road of pandering even to the right wing. His actions will ensure that the Labour Party gets a thorough drubbing after the elections. Today there is hardly any difference between Labour, Kadima and Likud. Labour has been reduced to a party of wimpish has-beens and pathetic party political hacks. Thanks to pompous Barak of wealthy Kierov Towers in Tel Aviv, he will be credited for destroying the Labour Party’s so-called social democratic fa├žade.

President Bush did very little to facilitate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He was embroiled in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan which had weakened the US as an honest broker. Now with Obama being the future president, he does not carry this baggage and has the potential to be more successful.

The time is overdue for Israel to get a charismatic leader with foresight that will unite the nation and move it towards peace with the Palestinians as well as make the necessary reforms that are so overdue. The power of extortion of the ultra-Orthodox religious Parties need to be curtailed in order to get there. This will not occur and we shall have the nauseating coalition negotiations to produce a lame, no direction coalition after the elections. There are no signs that the Israeli Electorate will assure that a more dynamic and imaginative leadership will arise after the elections. Israel will not follow the example of the US in moving towards any positive drastic changes after the elections. The idea of a Barak, Livni, and Netanyahu triumvirate is also a pathetic possibility if one throws one’s vote away on one of these three main parties.

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