Dilemma for Obama in Mideast; Israeli Elections too Close to Call; Far Right Parties Ascendent

Reuters says that Israel’s elections on Tuesday are too close to call. Binyamin Netanyahu of the far right Likud Party had been the front runner, but the race has recently been tightening. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, a far, far-right faction that advocates ethnically cleansing Palestinians, has been drawing votes away from the Likud. If the Knesset, with 120 seats, is divided among three or four smaller parties rather than one or two big ones, the resulting government will be unstable and Lieberman could emerge as its kingmaker, since smaller parties will be needed to get the ruling party to 51% on important votes. Netanyahu of the Likud has vowed to colonize even more Palestinian land in the West Bank, a process that will make completely impossible the establishment even of a small Palestinian state and ensure that Palestinian statelessness and disadvantage continues. Since, however, such an outcome looks an awfully lot like Apartheid, Netanyahu’s success holds severe dangers for an Israel deeply dependent on trade with Europe and Africa.

A victory for the Israeli Right that is forced into unstable coalitions and dependent on small parties like Lieberman’s would not want genuinely to pursue a viable peace with the Palestinians, and would not be able to even if it wanted to, as McClatchy points out. That outcome may make severe problems for President Obama.
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Lieberman, who is accused by many Israelis of being a fascist, is a former bouncer from Moldovia who only came to Israel in 1978. He wants to withdraw citizenship from, and even speaks of expellling Palestinians whose ancestors have been on this land for millennia.

Aljazeera English reports on the divisions in the Israeli electorate over the Likud, Kadima and Labor Parties, but finds that security is uppermost in voters’ minds, with the poor economy a close second.

The new Israeli prime minister will make fateful decisions for the stateless Palestinians under Israeli military occupation. (Being stateless is sort of like being an African-American slave at the time the US constitution was crafted– you are only 3/5s of a person, lacking rights that are essential to basic human dignity.)

Aljazeera English reports on how the Palestinians of the West Bank view the Israeli elections, mainly through a lens of despair and a conviction that nothing will change for the better.

In the meantime, Hamas, the elected government in Gaza, is near to a one-year truce with the ruling Kadima Party in Israel, according to Reuters. Obviously, the final provisions will have to be negotiated with the new government elected Tuesday. Aljazeera English hosts a discussion of the truce prospects:

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