As we noted yesterday, the Israeli election has left Benjamin Netanyahu pretty well-positioned to form a new government in which he will be the Prime Minister. His main rival, Tzipi Livni, was unable to form a government last fall, at a time when the “right-wing” parties had substantially fewer seats than they will have now.
However, Israel Beiteinu, the strong third-place finishers, has not ruled out throwing in with Livni’s Kadima party. Its leader, Avigdor Lieberman, may well play hard to get. As Daniel Pipes notes, Lieberman takes the position that Israeli Arabs should lose their citizenship and their right to live in Israel unless they declare their loyalty to the Jewish state. Israeli-Arabs are increasingly displaying a profound disloyalty to that state.
Livni’s Kadima party seems, at least, to have edged Netanyahu’s Likud head-to-head (as it were), but it’s close and the returns aren’t final. In particular, I understand that there are something like 200,000 votes cast by members of the IDF that are yet to be counted. The military vote always tilts to the right, and Kadima’s margin reportedly is only around 30,000.
Assuming that Netanyahu does become Prime Minister, his relationship with President Obama should be an interesting one. I expect that Obama will become frustrated by the abuse he takes from Putin, Chavez, Ahmadinejad and others of that ilk with whom he attempts to have a “dialogue.” It wouldn’t surprise me if Obama tries to take out his frustration on Netanyahu, whose view of the world differs significantly from Obama’s. Although Netanyahu is a prickly guy, there are probably limits on how prickly he will want to become with the U.S president.
In any case, Israel is almost surely better served by Netanyahu than by a prime minister who shares Obama’s inclination to make concessions to its enemies.
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